When the Bible talks about love there are some passages that have been misused and created a situation where people can take advantage of others. The verse I referred to almost two weeks ago, you remember, the one that says, “Greater love hath no man than this - to lay down his life for a friend?” is one of them.
I once heard a Christian counselor use that as justification for why a wife should NOT leave her abusive spouse. His theory was that marriage is a sacred bond (yes) and you can never divorce your spouse even if he has broken your bones and battered your spirit (Lord no).
I am reminded of I Peter 3:7 (Message translation):
The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground.
Once a man lays a hand on his wife, the covenant is broken. By him. He has failed to be good to her. When this happens, the family needs to address this issue and sometimes divorce is the appropriate conclusion. The Bible makes provision for divorce even though divorce clearly grieves God (Spousal abuse, too, grieves God- let's not forget).
As sacred as marriage is, it is not sacrosanct. I think this principle applies to all relationships. Giving and receiving love is a sacred act; relationships are important, vital, in many ways the breath of life. But relationships have limits and sometimes the boundaries of respect and mutual care are so violated that we have to release people from our circle of love. This does not necessarily make them bad people - although let’s be clear, it is very very BAD to abuse anyone. Sometimes relationships end because our core values are incompatible. This requires a ton of discernment. We do not need to have shared core values in all relationships. The folks who make my coffee do not have to share my core values! However, the affinity I do share with certain baristas in our community has created a lovely relationship bond to such an extent that I mostly only get my java from two very special places.
This is all very tricky and difficult to tease out. But the bottom line is this: sometimes someone teaches us (or we teach them) that we are fundamentally incompatible in a relationship and need to readjust our relationship boundaries. Are there any relationships that you are holding onto too tightly?