While dealing with a toxic family member is never easy, what does the Bible say about cutting ties with family?
God designed the family as one of the vital institutions on earth. A family is expected to be a source of love, respect, safety, and affection. However, the family has been plagued by sin since Adam and Eve. Such a nature of sin brings about internal strife and difficulties. Staying close to toxic family members and being steadfast in one’s Christian faith can be challenging. Maybe you’re confused and struggling to navigate such complicated family relationships. Read ahead to learn about the biblical view of cutting ties with family.
A Biblical View of Cutting Ties with Family
Cutting ties with parents
Part of physical, emotional, and spiritual maturity is transforming from dependence to independence. Some individuals leave home to pursue careers or explore different places. Scripture commands married persons to leave their parents and be independent of them to build their own families (Genesis 2:24).
Of course, the Bible does not mean stepping away from home, alienating parents, and forgetting about them. When you separate from them, you operate from love, respect, gratitude, and obedience to God’s word.
This transition can be difficult for some families, especially those with single parents. You can make the adjustment less stressful by showing love through communication, acts of service and thoughtfulness, and seeking guidance and wisdom. However, your priority and primary allegiance goes to your spouse and children.
Cutting ties with children
As a parent, you have the responsibility to care for (Colossians 3:21), guide (Deuteronomy 6:7, Proverbs 22:6), and discipline your children (Ephesians 6:4, Proverbs 19:18). As your children are in the household, you are given the obligation to provide for and instill values in them. Doing otherwise is disobedience to God’s command.
But when the children depart from the household, they become adults who navigate their own lives. Although it can be challenging, sad, and anxiety-laden, you must not harbor ill feelings toward your children for leaving the nest. This change does not mean that your opinion no longer matters. It means that you have raised them in the way of the Lord, and now they are ripe to be independent of you.
Cutting ties with toxic family members
When we have been wronged, our first responsibility is to address the person who did it. Since our goal as Christians is to proclaim God’s mercy and encourage rapprochement, we must speak the truth in love. We must always bear in mind that our purpose is reconciliation.
Jesus tells us to keep trying until we find a way to fix the connection or make amends. But there are instances when we may have to cut ties. These circumstances include relationships that bring us to sin, involving abuse, and ones that do not bring glory to the Lord.
We are always encouraged to practice living in peace with others (Romans 12:18). But sometimes, our desire for peace compromises our soul. It is then acceptable to let go and accept to sever our ties with our family members.
Is it a Sin to Cut Ties with Family?
Many are confused if cutting ties with family members, especially those who are toxic, is a sin. On the one hand, we are commanded to love and forgive just as the Lord loves and forgives us (Colossians 3:13-14). But in the same vein, we are to ensure that we walk in faith, keeping Christ as the Lord over our lives.
Creating and maintaining boundaries becomes vital if our family members become our idols and our stumbling blocks from following Jesus. We are to cut ties with individuals who provoke and cause us to sin, even if those people are our family members.
Bible Verses about Cutting Ties with Family
Do not love the world or the things of this world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desire of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these, put on love, which binds everything in perfect harmony.
To another, he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
How to Deal with Toxic Family Members Biblically?
Assess the situation with honesty and openness.
In thinking about cutting ties with family members, we must view them rationally. Is your family member toxic or merely annoying? Is the problem extreme to provoke cutting ties, or can you overlook it while keeping your peace? Can you take other actions to mitigate the situation before cutting ties with them? You can decide whether to keep or cut ties by honestly reflecting on the situation. Ensure that your decision is one that you will be at peace with and accountable for.
Additionally, we must be humble enough to admit how we contribute to the concern. It may not be entirely your doing, but you may overlook particular gestures or actions on your part. It will be good to reflect on how your actions impact your relationships.
Seek the wisdom of godly counsel.
Resolving conflicts can be challenging. Seeking advice and help from other people may be necessary at times. Talking to a wiser and more mature confidant or mentor is essential. This person can help you find out if the things you have personally noticed are cause for concern and, if so, how to address the situation in a way that honors God. The purpose is to help handle whatever is holding the family back and causing friction. We may not possess the requisite understanding for a peaceful reconciliation. In this case, we must be open to accepting advice and help.
Create and maintain healthy boundaries.
Dealing with toxic, deceitful, irrational, or abusive individuals or circumstances may make us doubt our mental health and ability to make godly decisions. Boundaries provide a healthy purpose of outlining a biblical framework to assist us in identifying our actual responsibilities, unreasonable requests, where we should draw the line, and how we may do so without feeling guilty. It also helps to seek advice from trusted loved ones to ensure reasonable boundaries, communicate them to the other party, and maintain them firmly.
There are instances when we choose not to forgive someone in the hopes that they would be moved to repent and make amends for their actions. But we must remember those around us feel more loved and accepted when we show compassion for them.
Forgiveness goes further by indicating that we no longer harbor resentment. When we are able to forgive, we can replace bitterness with love and move forward. When our families have injured us deeply, overcoming our resentment and anger can feel impossible. Forgiving others not only brings us emotional relief, but it also shows our obedience to the Lord.
Seek the Lord’s wisdom through reading Scripture and praying.
The Bible is not only a book of stories that shows adventure and gives commandments. Scripture is the living word of the Lord, applicable in all our life’s situations – even in the question of cutting ties with family members. When you feel overwhelmed by the situation and are at a loss for what to do, read Scripture and pray for wisdom. And when God speaks to you, make sure to heed and obey with complete trust and surrender to the Lord who cares for you and your family.
A loving family and household display God’s character through love, compassion, care, and trust. But it doesn’t mean families are perfect. Through all the imperfections and trials a family goes through, remember that God wants what is best for us.
As we yield to Him, He will illuminate our connections with others and eradicate the causes of our toxic interactions with each other. Keep in mind that God sees inside our souls. He does not want us to endanger ourselves or our loved ones and disobey Him in an effort to appease a family member who is actively working to do us harm.
Kindness, forgiveness, and prayer are all vital in maintaining healthy familial relationships. While dealing with a toxic family member is never easy, God always gives us the wisdom and courage to do what is right to make us grow into Christlikeness.
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