I keep getting strong urges to cut myself. I know it is wrong, but am I lusting for what is wrong?


I had read "I'm obsessing over my sinful thoughts. What can I do?" before, and it helped, but not completely. So I read it again last night, and still, it helped, but not completely. You see, I'm not just tempted to cut. When I get the urge to cut, I really want to. I mean, I know in my head and in my heart that no matter how much I want to, I'm not going to, but it still feels like it's wrong to want to cut so much when I find myself wanting to. And this is where I got confused by reading that article because you made the point that it's wrong to really want something that's wrong. But then you said that it's wrong if you start thinking about getting away with whatever it is that you want to do that's wrong, and I'm not trying to get away with it. I know I'm not going to cut. I just really want to, and yet it still seems like that's wrong. I don't think that my promise is broken, which is definitely a good thing, but it still seems like I'm in the wrong somehow. Am I in the wrong?


It seems I'm having a difficult time helping people distinguish between a temptation and a lust. Most people want to say it has to do with the strength of the desire, but it is more than that. I could face a really strong temptation to sin, but overcome it, such as what you are doing. It seems wrong because what Satan is trying to drive you to do is wrong. You understand that and have rejected the idea because you know it is wrong.

A person caught up in lust is also being tempted, but his thoughts about right and wrong are completely different. He doesn't reject what he is lusting over because he knows it is wrong. Instead, he thinks in terms of excuses, such as "It wouldn't hurt just one time" or "If I could get away with it, I'd do it." When Jesus said, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28), he is talking about guys who have not rejected the idea that sex outside of marriage is wrong. They contemplate it, they think about excuses, they wonder how they could get away with it, basically, the one thing they lack is the courage or opportunity to do what they want so badly to do.

You face a strong temptation because you've used cutting as a coping mechanism. Habits kick in when similar stresses return to your life. Now that you've grown more spiritually, you know that what you did in the past is wrong. You reject the idea, but the urge to do it again remains and will remain for a while until you develop new habits to deal with the stresses in your life, and hopefully, the new habits will be productive instead of destructive methods.

You're going down the right path. You've gotten to the point that despite the strength of the temptation, you are set that you won't do what you know is wrong. Thus, it isn't lusting but a struggle. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you" (I Peter 5:8-10).

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