Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I am learning to develop boundaries which scripturally guide my uniqueness , responsibilities, and freedom as a person and which become, to me, something of an indication of the health of any relationship. These boundaries enable me to be who I really am with God, myself and others rather than pretending to be who I am not or trying to be the way people wish I were. These boundaries allow any relationship to be built on the truth that says this is where I begin and you end and where you begin and I end. These are not to be viewed as rules but as a map by which we can, in truth, maintain a healthy relationship as we walk our journey of grace with one another.

The idea of boundaries in relationships is based on a certain premise. It would be helpful to remember that the word "premise" is defined as..."a statement or proposition from which another is inferred or follows as a conclusion if the premise is true, then the conclusion must be true."

The premise for my belief in the legitimacy of boundaries in relationships is what I call my "Core Beliefs." These are not theological beliefs per se but relational core beliefs that include some theological truths. Because I'm speaking as a Christian my own personal relational boundaries begin with the premise that the most important relationship I have is the one I have with the One who Himself made me and redeemed me from a fallen state as a human being. All relationships begin and extend from mine with Him.

Let me give a simple list of these core beliefs to which I hold and that result or lead logically and correctly, I believe, into boundaries. It would help if you hear these as concepts and not rules. These are the green lights/red lights that make for a safe and gracious journey in relationships. This is my list only....

One---I'm created in His image, as is every human being, and have been created to have a real and healthy personal relationship with Him, myself and others. Relationships are to be emphasized in that order. 

Two---Any thing that mars or hinders His image in me is to be seen as less than His purpose for me. This is why sin had to be dealt with as only He could. This is also why unhealthy and controlling relationships, on my part or on the part of others, are less than His purpose for me. 

Three--That image includes my body, mind, emotions, will, spirit, in other words, my total person. His Spirit has set me free to exercise, in freedom, all faculties that make up that image recognizing the ever present sin principle in me that remains until the resurrection.

Four--Any relationship that would rob me of personal responsibility for any portion of my personhood as a Christian is to be questioned and seen as unhealthy, if not harmful!

Five--A significant factor in building any healthy relationship is that it is to reflect what we are "being" in that relationship and not what we are "doing" in it. Relationships that are healthy depend on how we function in grace and truth not on how we perform in roles.

Six---The overriding purpose in my having other relationships, whether marriage or church or friend, is so I can mirror what He and I have together relationally. In order to be to others what He is being to me, it is essential that I not ignore the boundaries that are necessary for other relationships to be, in fact, healthy and mutually satisfying, rather than unhealthy and controlling.

That is a list of my core beliefs for relationships that I have put together for me as a Christian. They are a guiding light for whatever relationship I might choose to built whether it is in marriage, immediate family, extended family, in-laws, friendships, church, work, or as a citizen of a nation or world.

Someone is going to think, if not say out loud, "What about just living by the golden rule?" These core beliefs are the golden rule translated into relationship language for me.

Someone is going to think, if not say out loud, "Don't the scriptures tell us to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves? Why make it so complicated."

This is simply that put in relational language for me after giving serious thought to my responsibility for being what I've been redeemed to be as a human being. 

I've always wondered why a young couple will spend months planning a wedding, shopping for a dress, sending invitations, arranging plane trips, booking hotel rooms, getting tuxedos, preparing food, all for an event that lasts about 45 minutes as a ceremony and 2 hours as a reception but never spend any time looking into or investigating what it takes to really live together as man and wife in a healthy and gracious way!!

It seems to me the importance of a marriage demands a bit more thoughtfulness than just planning the ceremony. This, especially if you intend for the marriage to last a lifetime and be beneficial for both while portraying something of their relationship as the Church to her Bridegroom. The same can be said of any legitimate relationship into which you enter.

If relationships are so important, and they are, some thoughtful examination may need to be done. That examination has to have a measuring stick so you can know of its' health with regards to God's purpose.

I said earlier that I believe Southern Baptist spend hours, even years, building theological systems, yet little time learning or building relationship skills. So we've wound up with heads full of truths, theologically, but little in terms of solid, healthy, biblically gracious relationships. Thus, we have people who can state correct biblical facts, even doctrinally, yet be angry, egotistical, mean-spirited, controlling, individuals with the people around them, whether that is family or church, yet all the while thinking they are being champions of the Faith. If they only knew. 

This is my attempt to help us learn some skills that I believe are lacking. Thus, the premise for boundaries that enable healthiness and mutual benefit is what I'm addressing here. "If the premise is true, then the conclusion must be true." 

The conclusion next time.

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


As I said in my last comment, "I certainly agree with the tenor of what you are writing and look forward to the continuation."

Your second last paragraph is so very important, and true in this country as well.

The last sentence of that paragraph are words that often go through my mind, which causes me to wonder whether, maybe, they DO NOT KNOW, but only think they have a vertical relationship with the Father, without which they cannot have a horizontal Biblical relationship with the Body of Christ.

I am speaking from experience,I was there once, a long time ago.

John says, "If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates(miseo)his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen."

As your paragraph indicates, "angry, egotistical, mean-spirited, controlling, individuals" which means an active attitude of ill-will, or hostility (miseo), towards others, especially those with whom they disagree.

I have always been impressed with the words of a chap by the name of Cyrus, who remarked,"I cannot understand those people of The Way, they love one-another even before they meet."

Of course Cyrus was impressed by those who bore evidence of the Holy Spirit empowered responsibility of obedience to Christ, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

I continue to appreciate your spirit and the wisdom of your words. Thanks for bringing so much to the table in any discussion we have.


I think I know why some who frequent here might think that these last two posts deal more with issues that are not theological or at least that are more than theological. That's because I admit that they do deal with issues that are, in fact, more than theology.

To me, what I'm attempting to do could be described as showing what love and self-control might look like in a believer's life when relating to others in truth and love. The scriptures do not tell us what actions to take that show love as much as they reveal love as the motivation for WHATEVER action we choose to take. The same for self-control.

The Holy Spirit IS the source and producer of love and self-control, with all that goes between those two such as joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness and faith.

But sometimes I think we might need to talk about what those may look like in action. That's what I hope this all too inadequate series does.

I've said from the start that what I'm writing is not sacred truth but one person's truthful experience in looking at actions that may help define healthy, Spirit-filled relationships.

That is what I hope to accomplish. The last post will speak to this to a greater degree.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Anonymous said...

Paul, have you heard that song: “I can handle this job all by myself”?

Would that be the 'premise' of an employee that was agreeing with their boss (who was in an argument) being yelled at: “Get out of here and shut the door!”

And the conclusion as Aussie John pointed out: “angry, egotistical, mean-spirited, controlling, individuals.”

In the link “Swallowing our pride”
are the words: “He warned to be leery of pride spotters in the church, which he said can be a haven for mean-spirited, critical people.”

After telling the evil of pride, how did the speaker conclude “pride spotters” were bad?

I believe the best “pride spotter” was Jesus: They broaden the hem of their garments that they might be seen of men.

Wonder how many pursue a high education for the sole purpose of displaying “Dr”?

BTW, your son's post yesterday is mind boggling in the harm caused by sex offenders.

Makes you wonder how much 'darkness' is caused by pornography.