When Boundaries are Bitter Barriers

The word "boundaries" has taken on a whole new meaning in relationships, and Christians are setting ungodly boundaries at the encouragement of poor counselors. #BibleLoveNotes #Bible #Devotions

Boundaries may be necessary with friends or acquaintances or with people who are physically abusive.(1)

But it's becoming increasingly popular for professing Christians to set ungodly "boundaries" in family relationships.(2) 

We choose our friends, but God chooses our family, and we’re naïve to think everything between parents, adult children, and siblings will be smooth sailing. 

After all, we're all broken people.

Only through our knowledge of our own sins and our love for God can we repent, forgive, and persevere in difficult family relationships (Ephesians 4:32; 1 Peter 4:8). 

In rare cases where boundaries are necessary, they should be part of a well-thought-out plan to improve and restore the relationship, not end it.(3)  

When physical abuse is not involved, boundaries that limit contact are usually an excuse to maintain bitterness, avoid open discussion, and manipulate or punish those with whom we disagree.

These boundaries violate biblical principles, limiting the work of Christ in our lives.

It may seem like the easy way out, but in the long run we'll be the greatest losers. 

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Note: The word boundaries has a variety of uses, and some are not ungodly. It is quite appropriate to refuse requests from family members that enable their laziness, greed, or addictions. And we should never put our family in situations where they could be physically or sexually abused. But many people use the word boundaries to create "barriers" in relationships, refusing to discuss problems, refusing to put up with any behavior they find annoying, and/or using grandchildren to manipulate or punish grandparents. I have special concerns with certain aspect of Henry Cloud's Boundaries Teachings and how they are being applied.

A few of the Scriptures that should govern our relationships:
The word "boundaries" has taken on a whole new meaning in relationships, and Christians are setting ungodly boundaries at the encouragement of poor counselors. #BibleLoveNotes #Bible #Devotions
↪ Luke 17:3-6: “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them...” 

Verses 5-6 (linked) indicate that this command requires genuine faith.

↪ Proverbs 19:11: "A person's wisdom yields patience; it is to one's glory to overlook an offense."
See the Evolution of Patience.

↪ Ephesians 4:32: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
See 8 Steps to Overcome Bitterness.

↪ Colossians 3:13: "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
See Do You Want Reconciliation? 

↪ Philippians 2:3-4: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." 
See 6 Choices that Kill Family Relationships

↪ Matthew 5:23-24: "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift."
See You Can't Serve God if You Refuse.

(1) We cannot choose our family members, but we can choose our friends, avoiding those who are bad influences. See 4 Types of People to Avoid.

(2) I recently read this explanation for boundaries: “to stay away from people who make us feel like they are trying to get us to change our behavior, tell us how negatively our actions have impacted them, or how sad they feel because of decisions we’ve made.” These rules are not biblical. They make open discussion and reconciliation virtually impossible. They keep the boundary-makers from admitting fault or listening to the concerns of others. 

(3) While God tells us to avoid certain types of ungodly people, He also tells us to honor our parents, and He doesn't base this command on the worthiness of our parents. Unfortunately, the concept of "boundaries" is most often used against parents. Our tendency as fallen human beings is to give up on relationships that are messy or difficult, but doing so stunts our growth and prevents reconciliation in families. It goes without saying that we should not voluntarily put ourselves in positions where we will be physically abused, but God expects us to deal with difficult family members in appropriate ways that include forgiveness, perseverance, and grace. See Are Henry Cloud's Boundaries Teachings Biblical?

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  2. please also consider emotional and mental abuse...not only physical and sexual abuse. Thank you.