What are some alternatives I can do instead of cutting myself?
I have been fighting the urges to watch pornography and other horribly lustful sins, and I have been slowly succeeding to resisting the temptation and sinfulness of my thoughts. By using the power of prayer, I’ve been getting better at managing my sinfulness.
Yet I have this recurring thought that I really entertain and I have no idea if it’s sinful or not: It’s the thought of self-loathing. God teaches us not to hate. God wants us to love all people. Love is our main priority, that is what Scripture tells us. Yet I suffer from a thought, a loathing and a hatred so great. Personally, I have no hatred nor carry any hatred toward anyone, except myself.
I really do not like myself. More than that actually, I despise myself. I remember the sins I have done in the past, I confessed them to the Lord, and I’m doing my best to repent, yet I still feel guilty about them. Scripture tells us that if we confess our sins, we receive forgiveness as long as we repent and I have been doing that, but I still hate myself for committing the sin in the first place. I also hate myself for other reasons such as my physical appearance, whenever I make a mistake (such as examinations, seatwork, or getting the wrong answer in a question) and whenever I think of my sinful past. So much so, I am considering, well I considered, self-harm. I cut myself before, about one or two years ago. I haven’t since then but I am getting the urge to cut again. Stronger in fact.
What can I do to prevent this? Should I prevent this?
I am looking forward to your reply.
People who hurt themselves typically do so because they feel they need to punish themselves. More often than not, the feeling that they need to be punished is irrational; that is, they are looking at the situation wrong. Often bad things are happening to them, for which they are not the cause, but someone is pressuring them to think that they are responsible. It becomes a trap where they think they are bad, but since it isn’t really their fault, they can’t correct it. Hence, the feeling that they need to punish themselves. It is a way to cope with what feels like overwhelming problems.
In your case, it seems that you are striving for perfection and the problem is that no one is perfect. Therefore, you feel that every failure, whether it is academic or moral, has to be punished. Solomon warned about this type of thinking when he said, “Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16). We all strive to be better, but we also learn to accept that we make mistakes. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. … If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (I John 1:8,10).
Cutting is wrong because you are harming yourself. You are acting as judge, jury, and executioner in your own case, but you are biased because you are involved. Your own emotions get in the way of seeing things accurately. The result is that you are going against what is in your nature, and I believe you know it. “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church” (Ephesians 5:29).
People who get involved in cutting come to believe that they must be punished in order to be forgiven of their sins, but that is never taught in the Bible. At times people are punished because they remain in their sins and God uses punishment as a wake-up call to get them to change. But it is not the punishment that gains a person’s forgiveness but the changes that he makes in his life. “‘Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,’ declares the Lord GOD. ‘Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you. Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,’ declares the Lord GOD. ‘Therefore, repent and live’” (Ezekiel 18:30-32).
Cutting doesn’t solve anything. It gives the illusion that you are doing something, but nothing really changes; instead, you have yet another thing that you feel bad about, so in the long run, you feel worse. There is no real change in your life. God forgives us when we turn away from sin. “Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die” (Ezekiel 33:14-15). Thus, to get forgiveness for harming yourself, the first thing you need to do is stop harming yourself.
You are looking for cutting to help you deal with the problem of pornography, but stop and think about it for a moment. It does absolutely nothing about the sin. As Paul points out, “These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence” (Colossians 2:23).
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13). I’m willing to listen if you would like to talk about what is going on in your life.