When interpreting the teachings of the Bible, it becomes apparent that the notion of disowning family members is multi-faceted and contextual, with potential for both constructive and detrimental outcomes, depending on the motivations and circumstances surrounding such actions.
In this article, we will initially explore the significance of family as portrayed in the scriptures. Subsequently, we will scrutinize the subject of disowning family members, examining scenarios where it occurs due to commitment to God and contrasting those with instances stemming from selfish gain and neglect.
The Biblical Foundation of Family
The Bible is rich with verses that depict the essence and significance of family, portraying it as a divine institution, characterized by love, support, and mutual respect. However, it also look into the complexities of familial relationships, presenting instances where spiritual commitments may lead to separation and disowning family.
The following are some key verses stressing familial bonds and responsibilities:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise—‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’”1. Ephesians 6:1-4:
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”Proverbs 22:6
“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”Colossians 3:18-21
“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”Joshua 24:15:
These verses serve as reminders of the paramount role family holds in spiritual and societal frameworks, stressing unity, respect, and shared values.
Complexities and Estrangement
The Danger of Disowning Family for Selfish Reasons:
However, the Bible also stresses the significance of family bonds, love, and respect, cautioning against the abandonment of family without just cause. For instance, 1 Timothy 5:8 states, \
“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.”1 Timothy 5:8
This verse emphasizes the moral and spiritual responsibility individuals hold towards their family members, suggesting that neglect or abandonment of such duties can lead to spiritual degradation.
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.1 John 4:20
The eye that mocks a father, that scorns an aged mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures.Proverbs 30:17
Evaluating Priorities: Family or Faith?
While the foundation of family is crucial in Biblical teachings, the scripture also explores the potential strife within familial structures, specifically where spiritual beliefs and duties are concerned.
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword… a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.Matthew 10:34-37
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”Luke 14:26
Understanding the Message:
In Luke 14:26, when Jesus uses the word “hate”, he doesn’t mean we should have real hatred for our family. It’s a way to say we should love him more than anyone else, even our families. We should put our beliefs and relationship with Jesus above all other things.
What it Means for Us:
Jesus isn’t saying we should actually hate or leave our families. He is teaching us about the choices and sacrifices we might have to make when we decide to follow him. Sometimes, our families might not agree with our beliefs, and there might be disagreements or hard feelings.
Balancing Relationships and Beliefs:
It’s important to be strong in our beliefs but also to be loving and respectful to our families, even if they believe differently. These teachings ask us to think about what’s most important and remind us that following spiritual truth might require us to make tough choices but also to maintain love and peace with our families.
Eli’s Dilemma: Righteousness vs Family Ties
Eli was the high priest and judge of Israel. He was a righteous individual, but his two sons were “worthless men”, They exploited their priestly roles for personal benefits, sleeping with the women who serve at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
Eli warned his sons of the consequences of sinning against the Lord, but they do not listen to their father’s rebuke. Eli seems to be the kind of parent whose warnings or reproofs lack enforcement and resolve; where a child knows that wrongdoing might result in words of disapproval, but never faces any real consequences.
For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them.1 Samuel 3:13
God sent messages to Eli, telling him that if he didn’t control his sons, they would die, and bad things would happen to his family. Eli still didn’t stop his sons. Eventually, his sons died on the same day in a battle, and when Eli heard about it and about the loss of the Ark of God, he fell, broke his neck, and died.
This narrative underscores the notion that, in certain circumstances, distancing oneself from family members who rebel against God’s principles may be necessary to preserve one’s integrity and spiritual well-being.
While the Bible emphasizes love, forgiveness, and reconciliation, it also advocates for righteousness and obedience to God, even when it means making painful decisions regarding relationships with loved ones. In such situations, the pursuit of holiness and adherence to divine principles should guide one’s actions.
Biblical Guidance for Dealing with Challenging Family Members
However, for family members who might be bothersome, hurtful, or challenging but do not oppose God, the Bible guides us to approach them with love, patience, and forgiveness, exemplifying the virtues of understanding and compassion. Scriptures such as Ephesians 4:2-3 instruct believers to bear with one another in love, making every effort to maintain unity and peace.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.Ephesians 4:2-3
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.Luke 6:32
It is crucial to encourage open communication, resolve conflicts amicably, and seek reconciliation, reflecting Christ’s love and forgiveness in all interactions.
- When dealing with challenging individuals, being an active listener and controlling one’s speech are crucial.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”James 1:19
- Sometimes, seeking counsel from wise and godly individuals or professionals can provide insights and support in dealing with challenging relationships.
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”Proverbs 11:14