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Six Scenarios Where We May Need to Break Contact with Others

This post is one I have been working on for awhile. I had some questions about this last week, as well. It is one of my least favorite topics ever! But it is important.

Breaking contact with people is something I do NOT enjoy doing.

Like – I REALLY, REALLY do not like having to do this. It’s painful. It’s heartbreaking. I want to just be able to work through things with others. I try to assume the best about others and try to be willing to reconcile. Most of the time, we can pray through conflicts and work through them successfully with others.

Sadly, breaking (or minimizing) contact with people in certain situations is necessary in this fallen world.

I have learned (the hard way – many, many times) that if I don’t stop communication with someone when I really should, I end up paying a steep price. Sometimes, my marriage and children also pay a high price. My ministry to other people suffers. And often, the person I wanted so much to help is harmed, as well.

This is exactly why I need God’s wisdom.

There is a delicate balance here. We are to love people with God’s unconditional love. We are to be kind, forgiving, gentle, gracious, merciful, and patient.

In life, some conflict is inevitable in following Christ and in human relationships. Just because there is conflict or I am sinned against doesn’t usually mean I should stop talking with someone. Most of the time, we can work things out, thankfully.

Of course, if there are things I can do on my end to repent of any sin in my life, I need to do that first (Matt. 5:23-24, Matt. 7:1-5).

But in certain situations – we just cannot have real peace with some people – unless something dramatic changes first on their end.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Rom. 12:18

Sometimes the situation doesn’t depend on me. Sometimes there is nothing I can do to correct the problem on my end.

If God gives me instructions about avoiding someone with a certain kind of spirit or behavior, I would do well to obey and trust God with the outcome.

Yes, even if I don’t like what He is asking me to do. It is for my own good – and, just as importantly, the good of everyone else involved.

Let’s see what Scripture has to say.

Here are six scenarios when we may need to break or minimize contact with others:

ONE

When a professing believer refuses to repent of significant sin.

Major unrepentant sin for a professing believer sets that person under God’s discipline. It hurts our witness to continue in fellowship with such a one. Those who belong to Christ should not be able to be content in sin.

  • If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matt. 18:15-17
  • But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. 1 Cor. 5:11
  • Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 2 Thess. 3:6

TWO

When someone is trying to tempt us into sin.

We don’t play with temptation. We flee from it. Especially from idolatry and sexual immorality.

  • Let not your heart turn aside to (the adulteress’) ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Prov. 7:25-26 (Same is true for women, we should avoid men who are adulterers.)
  • Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 1 Cor. 6:18
  • Flee from idolatry. 1 Cor. 10:14
  • Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Tim. 2:22

THREE

When our husband asks us not to have contact with someone.

A husband generally does this to try to protect his wife, children, and marriage from situations like:

  • Men who are flirting or acting in inappropriate ways.
  • People who consume too much of his wife’s or family’s time.
  • People who are stressing his wife/children/himself out.
  • People who are toxic to be around.
  • People who can’t be reasoned with.
  • People who are very emotionally or verbally abusive.
  • People who make threats against someone in the family.
  • Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Col. 3:18-19
  • Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord… Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Eph. 5:22,33

Of course, sometimes we may see these issues ourselves and decide we need to break contact before our husband says anything.

Please search my blog for the word “submit” and “submission” to see many posts about what that means and what it doesn’t mean. It does not mean slavery, abuse, or Fifty Shades of Gray! It does not mean BDSM or CDD.

It is about a wife honoring her husband’s God-given leadership unless he asks her to clearly sin because God intends to lead, protect, and provide for her through him in certain ways. (See this post for times I would not submit to my husband.)

An exception to honoring your husband’s request not to talk with others would be if he is abusive and he is trying to isolate you and harm you. In a situation like that, or if he is not in his right mind, he’s drunk, high, or otherwise dangerous, please reach out for appropriate, qualified, trustworthy help. Talk with the police, check out resources at your church, talk with a trusted, experienced counselor, or contact The Hotline if it is safe for you to do so.

FOUR

With a foolish, divisive, or hot-tempered person, a gossip, or a slanderer.

These sins are contagious and poisonous. We must choose our friends, mentors, and influences wisely.

  • Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Prov. 13:20
  • Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler. Prov. 20:19
  • Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare. Prov. 22:24-25
  • I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our LORD Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Rom. 16:17-18
  • Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. Titus 3:10

FIVE

When a person is clearly a false teacher.

Sheep should not try to have discussions with wolves. The only sane thing for a sheep is to run away to the protection of the Good Shepherd.

  • Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them… A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matt. 7:15-20
  • For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Matt. 24:24
  • I know that… fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Acts 20:29-30
  • See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Col. 2:8
  • If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 1 Tim. 6:3-5
  • Guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. 1 Tim. 6:20-21
  • But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 Pet. 2:1
  • I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them.  Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work. 1 John 1:7-11
  • Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 1 John 4:1-3

SIX

With those who refuse the gospel, “dogs,” or “swine.”

There is a time to share the Gospel and the love and power of God. Our goal is to share it with every living soul on the planet. But there is also a time to stop when someone is hostile or unreceptive and move on.

GotQuestions.org has a great explanation:

“Jesus uses dogs and pigs as representative of those who would ridicule, reject, and blaspheme the gospel once it is presented to them.”

  • And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. Matt. 10:14-15
  • And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” Mark 6:11
  • Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matt. 7:6-7
  • In the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 1 Tim. 3:1-5

Should we never have contact with any of these people in these six scenarios again?

Sometimes we need to break contact just temporarily, until the other person repents and rebuilds trust on his/her side. Sometimes we must wait until they come to Christ and the Spirit opens their eyes. Sometimes our husbands change their minds about people. Of course, there are also times, unfortunately, when people do not change.

Our prayer is always for them to be reconciled to God, to the Body of Christ, and to us.

It’s important for me to remember that Jesus is the Savior and the Holy Spirit opens people’s eyes. I am not the savior of humanity. And I can’t even open my own eyes. If I stay and try to force someone to understand rather than relying on the Spirit, I will cause harm.

Our motives must always be wholehearted love for God, death to our sinful self, repentance from our own sin, obedience to the Lord in the power of the Spirit, and love for others. God’s kind of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 agape love. We must be careful not to do things out of hatred, bitterness, sinful anger, malice, or resentment.

When I do obey the Lord and don’t allow certain very toxic people into my life, I get to enjoy a whole lot more peace, I am less distracted by drama, temptation, false teaching, and snares from the enemy, and I can focus much more on Christ and all that He calls me to do. 

We need the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word, prayer, and sometimes wise counsel from our husband or an appropriate godly mentor. These situations can get dicey quickly. So we want to lean on God not our own understanding.

SHARE

Is this topic difficult for you, too? What general godly wisdom have you learned that you would like to share?

AN IMPORTANT REQUEST

Let’s not share specific situations here.

A public forum like this is not an appropriate place to spill a lot of details about how someone mistreated us. Let’s go to the Lord, our own husbands, or other trusted counselors, in private, if we aren’t sure what to do.

If you need private counseling, please check out these resources:

  • Focus on the Family offers a one time free counseling consultation and counselor’s referral service.

Thanks so much! <3

NOTE

Sometimes we are in a very close relationship with someone and it may not be possible to completely break contact. This is all going to require God’s wisdom and His leading for us in specific situations. I don’t know what every person should do in every possible scenario. But God does.

We need His discernment, His mind, His power, His Spirit, and His heart. Sometimes, we may have to speak to people out of necessity. We can be respectful. We can have loving motives toward them. But we may have to set firm limits as the Word of God and the Spirit lead us.

May the Lord grant each of us the wisdom, love, and discernment we need.

MY NEXT POST

The next post in this series is about the opposite situation, “What If You Want Your Husband to Cut Ties with Someone?”

And the post after that is about “What If Your Husband Doesn’t Care about Your Feelings?”

RELATED

Why, When, and How Does the Lord God Discipline Us When We Sin? by www.gotquestions.org

What Did Jesus Mean When He Said to Not Cast Your Pearls Before Swine? by www.gotquestions.org

What Is the Gospel? by www.gotquestions.org

What Sort of Spiritual Boundaries Should We Set in Our Lives? by www.gotquestions.org

Boundaries Will Not Cure Codependency by www.desiringgod.org

Watch Out for Those Who Lead You Away from the Truth. by www.desiringgod.org

How to Interact with a Destructive Person by Leslie Vernick

My posts on conflict

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ

Articles about sound doctrine by www.gotquestions.org

The Real Motives Behind People Pleasing

11 thoughts to “Six Scenarios Where We May Need to Break Contact with Others”

  1. Hi April,
    I can’t thank you enough for putting this advice together.

    God loves us and wants to best for us and that is why he instructs us to avoid certain people.

    I have learned the hard way to avoid people with the characteristics that you described above. Since I learned to put this into practice, I have much more peace and happiness.

    For example, I had a close relative who fought tooth and nail to pull me away from Christ and pull me into new age practices. Because she was a relative, I could not cut off the relationship entirely. However, I found ways to distance myself from her. I stopped being close to her (i.e. confiding in her, trusting her, allowing her to confide in me, spending lots of time with her) and eventually she got the hint and accepted that our relationship has changed. It worked out for the best. I now have the freedom and peace to pursue Christ and enjoy my relationship with Christ in peace.

    In addition, during my single days, many men in committed relationships (including married men) used to pursue me. I learned the hard way to cut them off entirely with no explanation so they can leave me in peace and not tempt me into sin.

    Avoiding people is quite often the best way to protect ourselves from emotional, spiritual and psychological harm. It’s always uncomfortable at first but it always works out for the best.

    1. Nneka Simone,

      I know it can seem “mean” or “unloving” to have to minimize or cut contact, at times. But there are some situations where people are so toxic in our lives, or what we are able to do is not really helping them, and this truly is necessary. Sometimes to protect us, our husbands, our children, our ministries, and sometimes… to protect the other person, as well.

      The longer we hang on and don’t break or minimize contact when we really should, the bigger the mess will be, it seems.
      Thank you for sharing. <3

  2. Hi April,

    Thank you for writing this post! I feel like Reason #3 (below) explains my husband more than myself. Is the wife’s response to her husband the same as his to her?

    Men who are flirting or acting in inappropriate ways.
    People who consume too much of his wife’s or family’s time.
    People who are stressing his wife/children/himself out.
    People who are toxic to be around.
    People who can’t be reasoned with.
    People who are very emotionally or verbally abusive.
    People who make threats against someone in the family.

    I understand If you don’t have time to reply, a separate post for this question would be fine. I’m sure I’m not the only one in this scenario.

    Thanks so much,
    L

    1. Hi L,
      I would like to share my experience with you.

      My husband has had friends who I thought were bad influences on him, for example friends who drank heavily, consumed his time and/or used him for millions of favours. Speaking to him didn’t help matters much. However, I kept praying that God would remove these people from his life and he eventually did. In every instance, those so-called friends stopped calling my husband entirely. I was extremely relieved and happy each time.

      In addition, my husband also has an ex-girlfriend (and mother of his child) who sometimes flirts and acts inappropriately. I’ve been praying that anything she does this, that both she and my husband will be filled with guilt, shame and a deep godly sorrow that would lead them to repent and behave more appropriately. Because she has a child with him, he doesn’t have the option of cutting her off entirely and I can’t ask him to. I want him to have a relationship with his son. All I can do is pray that God will influence them to behave appropriately and that they would both repent and commit to living holy, godly lives.

      My advice therefore is to not instruct, order or demand that you husband cuts people off.

      State your opinion, for example you can say
      – “XX drinks too much and when you spend time with XX, you drink too much as well”
      – “XX always wants something from you. Do you really think he’s a real friend?”
      – “XX needs to understand that your family comes first”

      However, put the majority of your focus on praying about the situation. God can change situations and reveal things to your husband much better than you can with your words.

      Great books on praying for your husband are:
      1. “Praying for your husband from head to toe” by Sharon Jaynes
      2. “The power of a praying wife” by Stormie Omartian

    2. L,

      Wives can absolutely share their concerns if they see issues like this for their husbands. But we want to share in ways that are respectful, not ways that are bossy, controlling, nagging, etc… Honestly, no one likes to be approached in those ways.

      We can say, in a friendly, polite, non-pressuring kindi of way something like, “This situation seems dangerous/too stressful/too toxic. I believe it may be wise to break/minimize contact with this person.” And then we don’t need to argue, just let our husband think about what we shared.

      I have actually been thinking about writing a post on this topic.

      But in the meantime, my post “17 Tips to Ask for What You Desire Respectfully” addresses a lot of helpful approaches wives can take when they want to share a concern, make a suggestion, or make a request.

      Another post that may be helpful with this issue is “A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage.” Husbands have positional authority and wives have influential authority.

      Also, my book goes into a lot of detail about how to share our concerns with our husbands in ways that they can best hear our hearts. “The Peaceful Wife – Living in Submission to Christ As Lord.” Available on http://www.amazon.com, http://www.christianbook.com, and http://www.barnesandnoble.com

      <3

      1. L,

        The above answer would work if there is some level of mutual respect going on in the marriage. If things are extremely tense, a husband is very shut down against his wife, or very resentful, he may not be open to hearing her concerns.

        If that is the case, there are things she can do to begin to rebuild trust and respect on her end. Once respect and trust are rebuilt, then he may begin to care again about her feelings.

        Sometimes, a husband is in such a mess himself spiritually that he needs healing in Christ first before he can hear his wife’s godly wisdom.

        There are many possible scenarios. God can give us the specific wisdom we need in each situation, and there are godly resources for each situation, as well.

  3. Thanks Natasha!

    That is a very helpful reminder, part of me knows those things. I have had great answers to prayer in similar situations. I sometimes get confused with, when should I be quiet, and when should I speak up.

    L

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