Choosing Healthy Relationships Over Toxic Norms

Many rules are designed to keep you in toxic and even abusive relationships.

  • Honor your parents and accept whatever they administer.
  • Submit to your husband and do not divorce.
  • This is your family whether you like it or not.
  • Don’t challenge the leader and submit to authority.
  • Turn the other cheek and accept whatever anyone does to you.
  • Forgive your abusers 70 times 7 times.
  • Never say no to anyone’s requests or demands.

As diverse as the gospels are in their stories of Jesus, we can say he was fiercely independent and lived as a free man.

He chose his friends.
He redefined his family.
He chose who to hang out with,
who to avoid,
and who to walk away from.

choose your friends cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

In Howard Thurman’s book, “Jesus and the Disinherited”, he suggests that much of the teachings of Jesus are from a person who lived under occupation and are actually survival techniques for the oppressed. Unfortunately, oppressors take these teachings and, not surprisingly but typically, twist them into tools of oppression.

For example, when we are instructed to turn the other cheek, that was a technique for a victim to take back their power and make a courageous choice to survive. Abused people understand this technique. But abusers are aware of this technique too and take advantage of it. They expect their victims to abide by the turn-the-other-cheek rule and indulge their abusive behavior.

We shouldn’t just have to survive.

We can thrive by establishing healthy boundaries, forming healthy relationships, and living healthy and happy lives. If we can, we should walk away from toxic and abusive relationships.

Yes, some people will accuse you of breaking the rules.
Because you’ve upset the norm.

But you’ll be healthier for it.
And happier too.

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