As Christians, we are called to love and honor our family members. However, what happens when a family member’s behavior is hurtful, destructive, or goes against God’s word? Is it ever acceptable to disown them? This is a question that many Christians struggle with, and the answer is not always clear-cut.
In this blog post, we will explore what the Bible says about disowning family members. We will look at the importance of family in the Bible and how it’s intended to be a source of love, support, and growth. We will also examine the Bible’s teachings on forgiveness, justice, and accountability, and how they apply to difficult family relationships.
Navigating complex family relationships can be challenging, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or uncertain about the best course of action. Our hope is that this blog post will provide biblical guidance and wisdom as we seek to honor God in our families. Ultimately, we can trust in God’s wisdom and guidance as we navigate challenging relationships, and we can turn to Him for strength, guidance, and wisdom in all our relationships, including those with our family members.
The Importance of Family
First, it’s essential to understand the importance of family in the Bible. Family is one of the foundational institutions that God has established, and it’s intended to be a source of love, support, and growth. In Genesis 2:24, God created man and woman and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” This passage shows that marriage and family are designed to be lifelong commitments, and it also highlights the importance of leaving one’s family to establish a new household.
Throughout the Bible, we see examples of the importance of family. Abraham was promised by God to become the father of many nations, and his descendants became the people of Israel. Jacob had 12 sons, who became the 12 tribes of Israel. Ruth remained faithful to her mother-in-law, Naomi, even after her husband died. The Bible teaches us to honor our parents (Exodus 20:12), to care for widows and orphans (James 1:27), and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18).
In the New Testament, we see that Jesus prioritized His family members and encouraged His followers to do the same. In Mark 3:31-35, Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see Him while He was teaching, and He responded by saying, “Whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” This statement shows that while Jesus loved and respected His earthly family, He recognized that spiritual family is even more critical.
Disowning Family Members
With this context in mind, we can turn to the question of whether it’s ever acceptable to disown family members. The Bible does address this issue, and the answer is nuanced.
On one hand, the Bible teaches us to forgive and to love our enemies, including those who hurt us. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus says, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” This commandment is challenging, but it’s also clear that we are not to hold grudges or seek revenge against those who wrong us.
However, there are times when it may be necessary to separate from family members who persist in sinful behavior or who are a danger to themselves or others. In 1 Corinthians 5:11-13, Paul instructs the church to “not keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.” This passage shows that if someone claims to be a Christian but continues to live in sin, they should be held accountable, and other believers should distance themselves from them.
Likewise, in 2 Thessalonians 3:6, Paul commands the church to “withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.” This verse shows that if someone in the church is behaving in a way that is contrary to the teachings of the apostles, they should be corrected and, if necessary, cut off from fellowship.
It’s important to note that disowning a family member should not be a decision made lightly or without prayerful consideration. We should seek counsel from wise, mature believers and ask for God’s guidance in these situations. We should also examine our own hearts and motives to ensure that we are acting out of love and concern for the other person, rather than anger or resentment.
In Luke 6:27-28, Jesus commands us to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” This passage shows that even when we encounter difficult or harmful people, our response should be one of love and kindness.
In addition, we should remember that forgiveness is an essential part of the Christian life. In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive someone who sins against him, suggesting that seven times would be sufficient. Jesus responds, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” This statement shows that there is no limit to the number of times we should forgive someone who wrongs us.
Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that we must continue to have a close relationship with someone who has harmed us or others. It does mean that we release them from our anger and desire for revenge, and entrust them to God’s justice and mercy.
Balancing Love and Justice
It’s essential to balance the call to love our family members with the call to uphold God’s justice and holiness. In some cases, continuing to associate with a family member who is harming themselves or others can enable their behavior and cause more harm in the long run.
However, cutting off a family member should never be a decision made lightly or without prayerful consideration. We should seek counsel from wise, mature believers and ask for God’s guidance in these situations. We should also examine our own hearts and motives to ensure that we are acting out of love and concern for the other person, rather than anger or resentment.
In 1 Timothy 5:8, Paul writes, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” This passage emphasizes the importance of caring for our families, both physically and spiritually.
In addition, the Bible teaches us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and to hold each other accountable (Galatians 6:1). If a family member is engaging in sinful behavior or causing harm to others, it may be necessary to confront them with the truth and encourage them to seek help.
In conclusion, the Bible teaches us that family is a vital institution established by God, intended to provide love, support, and growth. However, there are times when it may be necessary to separate from family members who persist in sinful behavior or who are a danger to themselves or others.
While we should seek to love and forgive even those who harm us, we must also balance that with the call to uphold God’s justice and holiness. Cutting off a family member should never be a decision made lightly or without prayerful consideration, and we should seek wise counsel and examine our own hearts before taking such a step.
Ultimately, we can trust in God’s wisdom and guidance as we navigate complex family relationships. He loves each of us and desires that we grow in grace and love towards one another, even in the most challenging circumstances. As we seek to honor God in our families, let us remember the words of Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” May we continually turn to God for strength, guidance, and wisdom in all our relationships, including those with our family members.