Friday, January 21, 2011

Boundaries: A Book Review

Boundaries is not an easy book to understand or digest. This difficulty is due to the authors’ intentionally integrating, and syncretizing biblical truth with psychology. Therefore, a reader has to sift every word to discern what is biblical and what is not. I am extremely grateful to Ed Welch for his article “Who Are We? Needs, Longings, and the Image of God in Man” in the Journal of Biblical Counseling, Fall 1994, because it fortified me with the biblical, and theological discernment I needed for the task.

Authors Cloud and Townsend, state that the goal of Boundaries is to help readers achieve the relationships and purposes God intends for his children (28). They define boundaries as the characteristics that define a person. In the authors’ words, “they define what is me and not me (31).” According to Cloud and Townsend, knowing one’s boundaries is what helps one determine their responsibilities, so they can take control of their lives. The authors go on to say one’s boundaries develop in relationship with God and others, primarily in the early years of life. Boundary conflicts are most often due to inadequate or negligent nurture in these early years. These conflicts can only be resolved by following the authors’ nine-step procedure. One can apply this procedure to every kind of human relationship, including a person’s relationship to self and God. Finally, the author’s warn that applying this procedure will be difficult, and not without inner and outer conflict, but in the end it will be worth struggle, because people with boundaries live happily ever after.

In spite of the authors’ claims, Scripture never commands people to develop boundaries, or take control of their lives. So where did the authors’ get the concept of boundaries? They got it from psychology. For example, on page 39, the authors write, “man’s most basic need in life is relationship.” They repeat this assertion on page 66 where they say, “Our deepest need is to belong, to be in relationship…” The idea that man must have his needs met in order to experience fulfillment began with Maslow. According to Scripture, man’s most basic need is not relationship, but regeneration, and the forgiveness of his sins. The authors’ view of man is that he is a needy psychological receptacle that must be filled with “relationship,” so that he can set proper boundaries in relationships with others. In contrast, the biblical view of man is that he is a depraved sinner who needs to be forgiven and born again (Rom 3:9-23; Eph. 2:1-3). Man’s receptacle is not empty. Instead, it is overflowing with pride, selfishness and wickedness. These sinful motivations manifest themselves in all man’s relationships, which inevitably lead to conflict and alienation. In short, man does not have a “boundaries” problem; he has a heart problem (Mark 7:21-23). Only adherence to the heart-changing gospel of Jesus Christ can cure him.

What is even more disconcerting is the authors attribute this same relationship need to God himself. The author’s wrote, “Like God, our most central need is to be connected (66). However, the God of the Bible has no needs and is completely satisfied with himself. In fact, his greatest pleasure is himself and his inexhaustible glory. For God to have greater pleasure in anyone or thing besides himself would be idolatry, because it would exalt the creature over the Creator. The reason that he loves man is for his own pleasure and glory, not because he is a needy God who needs relationships with human beings to be complete.

Cloud and Townsend also have an unbiblical view of sin and its source. They claim, “. . . many psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety disorders, addictions, impulse disorders, guilt problems, shame issues, panic disorders, and marital and relational struggles, find their root in conflicts with boundaries (28).” Unfortunately, this list is simply a catalogue of sinful behaviors and attitudes renamed and redefined with psychological terms. According to Scripture, the source of these ungodly attitudes and behaviors is the human heart. As previously stated, God has only one plan for dealing with the human heart, namely the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The authors state the goal of the Boundaries is to aid readers in using biblical boundaries so that they can achieve the relationships that God intends for his children (28). However, it is not God’s intention that his children live by an unbiblical concept called boundaries. According to Scripture, specifically Gal. 5:16 and 5:25, all Christians are to live by the Spirit. This is also the main point of Rom. 8. The fruit of the Spirit as described in Gal. 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are precisely what is needed for healthy and harmonious relationships, not boundaries.

In closing, Boundaries is another example of the psychological teaching that has infiltrated the contemporary church. For almost two thousand years, the Gospel, the Holy Spirit, and the Scriptures have been sufficient to convert the souls of men, and empower them to live godly lives. However, according Dr. Henry Cloud, and Dr. John Townsend, these are no longer sufficient. Now we need boundaries. Ironically, on page 39 the authors promote the necessity of their psychological teaching by stating, “Many people have been taught by their church or their family that boundaries are unbiblical, mean or selfish.” How I wish this statement were true. Boundaries are unbiblical, mean and selfish because they lead people away from the all-sufficient truth of God’s Word. In former days, the church used to call this heresy. We had better return to those days before it is too late.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

After having our Son and daughter-in-law cite "Boundaries" as their reason for extremely selfish behavior I could not agree more with this article. I always had a wariness toward these teachings, having read several of the books. I found that they produced selfishness within me when I tried applying them. It seemed that my behavior was in direct conflict with what the word of God would dictate and what a regenerated heart would produce!! I applaud you for taking a Biblical, courageous position toward this teaching and boldly speaking the truth. It gives me hope that not all of Christendom has been seduced by the many "mixtures" that are being taught as "truth" in the Body of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this review. I have looked online and most review are entirely favorable to this book, not a lot of 'critical thinking'. I am living in a boundaries marriage, actually separated at my wife's request. and some very very harsh boundaries going on. No meaningful communication and very lengthy separation nd no willingness by her to reconcile or even willing to be willing. Unbelievable but Boundaries explains it as she is very strong believer in this teaching.

Its another gospel like what Paul wrote to the Galatians. Very very sad that the church is dishing out Christian coated psychology. Do you know of any other reviews that are as objective as yours? Please please send them my way as my church has bought into this stuff. I know for sure that I do not want a marriage back with boundaries topped by razor wire as I am sure my wife would like to have things. I see much more in the Bible about breaking down barriers [Ephesians], sacrifice, submission, allowing others to take advantage of us, not insisting on our rights and so on. I think God's heart is all about taking risks with His fallen creation and asking us to do the same by trying to hang in there in some form in any messy relationship, and there are so many, much more than getting into a fortress mentality to make sure our life is protected and guaranteed to be wonderful. It boggles my mind that the church is just sucking this up without doing its biblical thinking due diligence. But you have, and blessings to you!
Thank you

Anonymous said...

Within 4 months of getting married to a woman who met us 3 times, our son quoted the Boundaries book as to why he has cut off all communication with us, including his brother and sister. We had a very healthy close family until this. I keep reading this book and it is all about self and uses God to justify ungodly actions. I'd say run from this teaching.

joyrunner10:23 said...

I am in a group of ladies that meet to encourage and pray together and a few of them have read the boundaries book- one who is divorced and said it helped her get through the divorce. Eventually all the talk lead to an idea to do a group study and we bought the books. I just read through and listened to the chapter 1 session and I found myself asking where the scripture was and why in my heart this didn't seem to fit with anything I knew from the bible. That's what lead me to look for reviews and yours was actually the first one I read, hitting the nail on the head. I thank God for your post and will be praying about how to bring this up to my friends as a warning that it may not be as beneficial as we thought.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading Boundaries for a few days now and I do agree with you to an extent. I am taking from it what I need... It would be helpful that if you are negatively criticizing a book if you would provide an alternative book that could teach the topic properly (in your opinion). My feeling is that if you are going to be negative or complain about something, you should have an alternative, otherwise, you are just as bad as the author of this book since you can't do much better than. Make sense?

Pastor Rick said...

My response to the previous comment is read the New Testament. I know that sounds flippant, but that's not my intent. Scripture is authoritative and sufficient for dealing with all man's problems of living.

Anonymous said...

I agree.....the best alternative by far is to read and implement the teachings of the Bible. Its not really an alternative but it should be the starting point and the only authoritative frame of reference for all human relationships. Fine, God's truth is out there in the world as well but if what we think is God's truth out there in the world and if it contradicts the teachings in Scripture then God's Word trumps any other truth that seems to make sense no matter who is saying it and no matter what letters the authors have behind their names.Really all the wisdom necessary is already in the Bible but the sad reality is that most Christians do not read their Bibles enough and are ignorant of much of it and we are naturally drawn toward books with catchy titles and attractive covers where clever authors who do our thinking for us.

Anonymous said...

There appears to be a misunderstanding here. "Boundaries" is quite simple: God holds each person responsible for their own behavior. When we stand at judgement, we won't be held accountable for other's behavior. When the truth of each person's responsibility is blurred, the sin of blaming, manipulation and lies enter and damage relationships. By maintaining the truth of each person's responsibility before God and in relationships, we pursue obedience to God and responsible, God-honoring love towards each other.

Pastor Rick said...

God does indeed hold each person responsible for their behavior. Unfortunately, Boundaries fails to make that case biblically, and syncretizes what little biblical truth it contains with man-centered psychology.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a well thought out review. It is a relief after so many Christians have ditched their Bibles in favour of this unbiblical teaching of half-truths and a whole lot of lies. I find it frightening how deeply Christians have bought into this. The half truths are what make the teaching so attractive and also why it is so dangerous. I attended one church that was deeply into this humanistic philosophy. They were also deeply into related “co-dependency” teachings. Soon people in the church who had sin problems were viewed according nine-step teachings, hence addicts living in perpetually recovering states. That was broadened to include anyone who tried to help a suffering person as having a life-long incurable relationship addiction (co-dependency), the cure for which was total isolation. The redemptive power of Christ was not taught and certainly not believed by the Pastor.
The Bible tells us that we will know a tree by its fruits.
A number of those whom leadership treated harshly according to “Boundaries” became bitter. Their faith was destroyed and they turned to getting revenge on Christians any way they could. Another friend who was mentally ill was first taught to demand his “boundaries” and his “rights” to pursue a crazy path. He was told that he must live alone and never tell anyone of his illness, because it would make them co-dependent on him. He was dead within the year. I am watching another friend who uses “Boundaries” as permission to do drugs. “I am an adult. I make my own decisions”. Once he is on drugs he goes psychotic. “Boundaries” teaches us that he must reap what he sows. Even though he is no longer in a rational state of mind, not able to help himself and is in a frightening downward spiral, he must suffer the “natural consequences” of his actions. I guess the question is how “rock bottom” can a person go? Is it Jail? The mental ward? Death? What about the innocent bystanders he could harm? I hate to say he is in this state, because his sister ignored the early warning signs and refused to intervene and get him to a safe place, because she had to respect his “boundaries”. Perhaps if he had been taught about “sin”, rather than “boundaries” he might not have had justification to do drugs and this horrifying destructive episode could have been avoided.

Anonymous said...

Now and then on the radio, I listen to the authors dish out "advice" ....the past two times I listened to them I was a bit surprised as to what their advice was...shameful.

1. they suggested to a man to sign divorce papers...WHAT??? - they spoke with this guy for less than 5 minutes, he had stated that his wife called him controlling & they implied by not signing the papers he was proving that..even though he had started biblical (real biblical) help & had been getting closer to God.....hummm..they offer a weak faith solution to a comfortable me focused wide path to nowhere but deeper into self.

2. today a woman called in, her brother is gay - his lifestyle was condemned by his parents & parents church. Their solution BOTH for her and him...what he has experienced is Toxic & he needs to remove himself and start taking "antibiotics for the parent & church toxicity" via a more lenient church & certainly get away from the toxic parents!! ...all this advice with in 3 blocks of driving time in my car...hummm again weak faith. I have an idea they view the path a a very WIDE one. If you ask me, they appear very arrogant, world first focused know it psychologists & use scripture as profit, promotion and a cover for dishing out advice that can only lead someone deeper into the world...I believe in grace - what I don't believe in is weak faith & I don't like wolves in sheep's clothing posed & ready to take another down with them...one day they will account for sending folks on a uturn when what they were seeking was truthful guidance in a time of pain and weakness.
Vicki

John Lategan said...

" IF YOU LOVE THOSE WHO LOVE YOU, WHAT CREDIT IS THAT TO YOU? EVEN SINNERS LOVE THOSE WHO LOVE THEM. AND IF YOU DO GOOD TO THOSE TO THOSE WHO ARE GOOD TO YOU, WHAT CREDIT IS THAT TO YOU? EVEN SINNERS DO THAT. AND IF YOU LEND TO THOSE FROM WHOM YOU EXPECT REPAYMENT, WHAT CREDIT IS THAT TO YOU? EVEN SINNERS LEND TO SINNERS, EXPECTING TO BE REPAID IN FULL. BUT LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, DO GOOD TO THEM, AND LEND TO THEM WITHOUT EXPECTING TO GET ANYTHING BACK. THEN YOUR REWARD WILL BE GREAT, AND YOU WILL BE SONS OF THE MOST HIGH, BECAUSE HE IS KIND TO THE UNGRATEFUL AND WICKED. BE MERCIFUL, JUST AS YOUR FATHER IS MERCIFUL.
LUKE 6:32 - 36

LOVE HAS NO BOUNDARIES

THANK YOU PASTOR RICK

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...I appreciate your musings Pastor Rick. They really help confirm the principles from the Word on other-centered love that our Saviour revealed so beautifully for us. He is our example & commands us to take up our cross daily & follow Him. So clear also are His teachings in the sermon on the Mt. Matt. 5&6, that if these boundaries are how we are suppose to live,then we'd have lots of "boundary" excuses not to obey him! Jesus, as the spotless Lamb of God,had more reason than any other human being to be a boundary setter. I'm sooo glad He did'nt or I'd have been lost. Instead, He loved me at any cost to Himself! Hallelujah!

CCDiscernment said...

Henry Cloud's books, including Boundaries and Changes That Heals, bother me quite a bit.

In Boundaries, he really is emphasizing "say No to others to protect yourself," but hardly mentions "say No to self for other's good."

This is contrary to the Bible's teaching of sacrificial love.

In Changes That Heal, I think he simply does not understand what is the image of God!

Albert Janzen said...

About the comment from Vicki about having heard that a man was advised to sign divorce papers, that is my experience almost exactly when I refused to sign legal separation documents because I felt it would make me a liar when I never had wanted separation from my wife in the first place even though she did. Later my pastor and an elder told me that I had the spirit of rebellion and when I asked for an example they very quickly mentioned that one example was that I had refused to sign separation documents. Unbelievable. They said it was supposed to be for our mutual protection in case I got sued and could not pay and declared bankruptcy and then my wife would lose her shirt. I told them straight out that keeping a covenant trumps material security any day and that perhaps this is one reason there are so few miracles in our part of the world becasue God looks down from heaven and sees all the different kinds of insurance we buy for everything and anything and He says,'they don't really need me because they only cry to me when all their own little schemes fail'. I think we all know that the Truth will come out sooner or later and for sure in the End but its tough to see wolves in sheep clothing getting away with leading a good portion of God's flock astray with another Gospel called Boundaries.

John lategan said...

We are not called to make personal boundaries
We are called to overcome our limits to love and do good.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the books. From someone who grew up with no self worth or had no concept of boundaries and always wanted to please people to the point I almost burnt out, I think it has some good points. I see boundaries as taking ownership of your own feelings and behaviour as well as not allowing people to abuse or walk all over you. Jesus displayed somewhat boundaries when he step aside after performing miracles and prayed alone with his father. Isn't there a passage that teaches us to guard our hearts because it is a well spring of life? No where in the books do the authors encourage to put up boundaries out of selfish motives. It is always in love and to guard your heart. It doesn't mean not love them. You dont go and throw your pearls to pigs who will trample on it either. I don't agree with everything in the book, but I believe they have sought out God's input. Who am I to criticize their work? I don't think they have selfish motives for writing this book either. We are living in different times. The world is constantly changing. A few stories I have read, I think that those people who put those strong "boundaries" have misunderstood the intention and meaning behind boundaries.
Jesus, yes, is the only one who can bring healing. But we have counselors and books like this that God uses to bring healing into people's lives, like mine, so I wouldn't shut down some ideas completely. In the end, it is your opinion.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. Helps me to understand the book a bit better. We read it and I hated it. My husband uses his "boundaries" to say that if I treat him poorly then he's leaving for X amount of time. To me, that's controlling and not loving. Is that what the book is teaching about boundaries? It's ruining are already hurting marriage. I'm miserable.

northernpoet said...

I must respectfully disagree with your review. While many people misuse the concept of boundaries to justify cruel and selfish behaviour, the concept is a sound one. I have spent too many decades in churches that abused people and burdened them with inappropriate guilt using Scripture as a weapon. Townsend does a great job of explaining the difference between bearing one another's burdens while being responsible for one's own load. Having grown up in a classic alcoholic family, I had to let God heal a lot and teach me the difference between false and real guilt and between what He wanted of me as opposed to what others wanted of me. People without boundaries confuse people-pleasing with God-pleasing. I was that kind of person until it led to a breakdown which ultimately led to a healthy relationship with God and others. Before that I was not free to be the person God created me to be. But boy did I feel spiritual for letting others take advantage of me!
I am grateful to God for using Townsend's book to help so many troubled Christians.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rick,
Thank you for speaking the truth concerning the book "Boundaries". It has destroyed the relationship between my daughter and myself. She has pretty much shut me out of her life. She even went so far to tell me that she just wanted me to be just a friend. I will always love her no matter what she says or does. I never have a day pass that I don't think about her and the rest of the family. I have cried a gallon of tears and prayed much for her. It is heart breaking to see someone read and believe the lies this book promotes. All I can think is Satan did the same thing when he twisted God's Words. This book is the lie of the Devil. It brings in a wrong spirit. Your page helped me to understand more what has happened to her. Thank for your review.

Buddy said...

your suggestion makes sense. I believe the reviewer was pointing us back to the bible as the alternative book. There is so much in scripture to teach us how to handle these problems in life. The human heart sometimes just doesn't want to do what is suggested because it would require us dying to ourselves. As Christ demonstrated for us when in all His power, He died on the cross and paid the price for what He did not do. To save mankind

Saved grace said...

Read the Gospels. We are to pray for our enemies. Bless those who curse us and turn the other cheek I believe. Why are we the church getting deceived so easily by psychology and teachings of men. Have we stopped reading our bibles or having a relationship with the Lord? Did we trade a pill for the Creator the one who can and will and has healed us? What's up with us? We are supposed to be as wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. I read some of this book and was getting check marks in my spirit. it did not seem biblical!

Megan Fletcher said...

It might be good if you read Ed Welch's article on the actual book written by Cloud and Townsend. I think it offers great insight and answers questions posed by those who have commented and asked "if not Boundaries, then what?"

To many of your commenters have simply said "someone erected a boundary on me and it's destroyed our relationship". I would wager to say that those who have been hurt by boundaries being set were probably not willing to "work through" the relationship struggles with those who set those boundaries. Relationships are tough. Two sinful people trying to come together will inevitably have problems. Boundaries are helpful. But, boundaries as a guideline to life isn't helpful. We are called to love, to give, to sacrifice. However, there are healthy ways of doing this in life. The bottom line of Ed Welch's article on Boundaries is that we need wisdom. There is no simple answer.

I believe in this blog post, you have attempted to give just that...a simple answer. Boundaries tries to give a simple answer "erect boundaries". You have given the opposite simple, and trite, answer "boundaries are not biblical".

Take a moment and read Ed Welch's article. http://www.ccef.org/boundaries-relationships

blake wimberly said...

I knew there was something funny about him. And how his books are more about self than Christ. But you pastor Rick have hit it right on the nail with the truth of total depravity. Because it's not "self help" that saves, but it's by the truth of God's Holy Spirit through His word that helps people get saved: "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise," (Ephesians 1:13)

Ken Mynatt said...

Same here brother. My wife read this book and after 22 years of marriage I was served with divorce papers this week. She gave me a list of expectations that I must meet or she moves our. Boundaries is a dangerous book. It creates extreme selfishness in readers minds. My wife has become cold and distant.

Anonymous said...

FYI, Ed Welch wrote another article in The Journal of Biblical Counseling in the Spring 2004 volume called "Boundaries in Relationships." Someone asked for other critiques of the Boundaries series of book, and this article would be a more lengthy review.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this Biblical rebuttal to a purely secular proposition that encourages selfishness, self-centeredness and self-idolatry. I am involved in a church where the Associate Pastor promotes her "boundaries" to the detriment of all she is called to serve, and boundaries thinking has spread predictably like a virus. Cloud and Townsend have done Christianity a great disservice by providing a justification for, and even masking as Biblical our worst sins. They are wolves in sheep's clothing. We are called to live self-sacrificing, self-giving, Christ-centered lives; that and only that, as imperfect and sinful as we are, is the only mode of Christian living supported by Biblical teaching.

Ken Mynatt said...

Within a few months after reading this book in spring of 2014, she became selfish and it was all about her boundaries. We began counseling but after a year of sessions, we unfortunately ended our 23 year marriage. I never saw her shed a tear during the process. I just wonder how many other marriages have ended because of the adaptation of the unbiblical principles in this book.

Albert Janzen said...

I hurt for you my brother to hear your pain and anguish. I think there are probably an untold number of other marriages and relationships that have been done a great disservice by application of the boundaries teachings. When I separated from my wife just over 5 years ago I knew that she was enamored with the boundaries teachings. I read them too and there were just some things that struck me as very wrong about them. Someone suggested that I read an article on Christian Discernment website: http://www.christiandiscernment.com/Christian%20Discernment/CD%20PDF/Book%20pdf/15%20Boundaries.pdf
This is a very long and detailed and thoroughly biblical and objective review of the Boudaires teachings. If this is too long, then read a shorter review:
http://www.christiandiscernment.com/Christian%20Discernment/CD%20PDF/Book%20pdf/15A%20Boundaries%20Summary.pdf
This will give you at least a brief introduction into what could be wrong with the
Boundaries teachings
I would actually encourage anyone who is thinking of reading these reviews to first read an article called Statement of Purpose:
http://www.christiandiscernment.com/Statement%20Purpose.htm
This article corresponds to the top tab on the home page of Christian Discernment.com. Reading this article will put you in touch with the heart of the person who is writing these articles. You will quickly see that there is compassion and understanding and not any motivation to discredit or to rip apart any of the teachings that are being reviewed on this website. For me that is hugely important and totally in keeping with the teachings of Jesus to love our enemies.
But reading these articles including the reviews on Boundaries will give almost anyone with an open mind a much clearer understanding of what actually are the errors in the Boundaries teachings especially from a biblical perspective. It is quite incredible that these two highly educated and Christian writers could possibly be prescribing these kinds of remedies of Christian coated psychology when all the necessary answers are already there in the Word of God, except that for most of us we are either too ignorant of the full scope of Truth in the Word of God or simply too unmotivated to do our own research to find what is waiting there for us to discover on our own. It just takes time but we all have more than enough time to check our cell phones how many times every day??
In one sense of the word there are times when boundaries might be needed between people, but only in the strictest sense of that word. Far more correct and appropriate would be to say that there are times when we need to apply respect, and honor, and obedience and probably a few other principles like that. These words carry far more and far deeper meaning and significance than the word boundary. The word boundary to me implies a cold and sterile and impersonal barrier and I think it is never right to treat another person that way no matter what they have done to us, its just wrong. Otherwise it was also wrong that Jesus taught us to love our enemies.
But I know very well the hurt that can be caused by boundaries. My wife divorced me about two and a half years after applying boundaries and has treated me like I did not exist ever since. Not even a normal divorce I would say. No communication. Nothing. And she calls herself a Christian! That defines deception and that is what I think this teaching is, pretty close to a heresy. My heart goes out to all others out there who have been hurt in some way by this false teaching which is masquerading as some wonderful self help which really empowers the user to become very self centered and selfish without realizing it.
May God give us great compassion to pray for all those who have been caught in this wonderful web of deception.

Anonymous said...

That horrible book has cost me my relationship with my only daughter and the mother of my only grand child. I wish it had never been written. We were a close family until she read that book! My daughter was never self centered and uncaring about the feelings of others until she read and began implementing the things taught in that book.

Albert Janzen said...

So very sorry to read about your pain. I am into my seventh year now that I have not seen my grandchildren and five years since I last saw my daughter. She will not let me see my grandchildren. Cannot prove its the Boundaries teachings but it would not surprise me because that is what her mother, my ex wife, believes and she divorced me four years ago. You are not alone, I know how it hurts.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this blog. The comments posted here are my story as well. My daughter has adopted this book as her Bible and has managed to alienate all immediate family members with strong admonishments to others to read this book (in an angry and aggressive tone). So I took it upon myself to have my copy burned outside. But for now I must wait till God moves in her life but for now we are loosing precious days of our life. Sad sad sad.

Janey said...

I am having difficulty working with a person I have known for years, and was actually very fond of. I had never worked closely with her until now. She mentioned that she reads this book about twice a year to refresh her mind on the concepts. During our work together, I have found that I am working with an individual who has control issues, and an inflated sense of self. She is almost narcissistic. Working with her is extremely difficult, because she wants to take control very subtly because, well, she is the best and smartest and her ideas of course are the best. The frustrating thing is she tries to take control in a very manipulative and secretive manner (sound like anyone you know???????) Sadly, if questioned about her motives or actions, she takes license to silence you through her God given right to put up a boundary. If she had not mentioned she read this book so frequently, I would be completely stumped by her behavior. If she were my employee, I would have to fire her, because she doesn't work by the rules of civility, where you return phone calls, and answer questions as to if and why you have taken certain steps on a project. What she needs is to be drawn to repentance by the goodness of Jesus Christ. This book is a stumbling block to biblical repentance. One of the false gospels referred to in Galatians. Maybe there is some truth sprinkled in there, but that is how Satan works. He mixes truth with lies. That is how he deceived Eve in the beginning.

Anonymous said...

I read through several reviews before it began to became apparent that people were lamenting how the book destroyed what they thought was all-in-all great/ok/mutually satisfying relationships. I can't help but venture a painful observation... Does it occur to those lamenting the loss of relationship that perhaps those who pulled away do not share that sense of loss? When someone pulls away from us, could it be something about us that drove them away? I know those reflective questions are painful to ask. But if your oblivious to how bad a relationship, is that not a sign that maybe there's a problem there? Is it possible that you might have lost someone that you dominated? Can you see that those exiting the relationship lost less than you did because of that self-centeredness? If we really believe in the depravity thing, maybe we should think about how our depravity effects others? In other words, maybe instead of giving this article an amen it should drive us to repentance and confession. As far as the critique, it was shoddy to say the least.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. Many of these people saying boundries are bad have either had no low self esteem and ended up in abusive relationship or they are the ones that biundries are being plased on them and they dont like it. Boundries are nessessary of any relationship specially abusive relationships

Anonymous said...

I'm very concerned about the influence this book is having on my adult children. One of my children and family have become withdrawn from me without directly talking to me about what caused the rift between us. Thankfully I still have some contact with them. They recommended the book to my second child and family who cut off all contact with me without my child talking to me about the reasons for the alienation. This child was always close to me as a teen and adult. I sought out a Christian counselor who wants me to read the book. I've been bothered though that the book is supposed to be Christian, but ignores the scripture "honor your father and mother". It also seems to be ignoring many scriptures dealing with forgiveness, love and charity. I've already read many Christian books and articles on "tough love" and, in reading the introduction to this book, I realized I didn't struggle with the boundaries issues in the introduction. Yes, I still struggle with some boundaries issues, but I am not comfortable reading this book to improve myself and my situation at the risk of alienating myself from my aging parents. I have instead found a book about healing from family rifts. It's greatly helping me deal with the lose I'm experiencing at this time.

Mystical-1 said...

After once again being left dazed and confused by my sister's abrupt distancing herself from me, I remembered that some time ago she had recommended to me a book called "Boundaries." After doing an initial investigation of the book, and realizing that it is immersed in psychology, as a Bible-believing Christian I had no problem dismissing it. But today I felt compelled to search it out again. Then I "happened" upon this site.

Here I have found so many answers to my troubled relationship with my sister. And while I cannot say that the book is the origin of our problems, I can say that I believe it definitely widened the gap. My sister is a profession Christian; but she is not a practicing one. She has always had an independent and rebellious spirit--kept in check mostly through long-suffering efforts of the rest of the family. But now she will not hear advice, recommendations, concerns, reproof, or even accountability for anything she says or does. Everything that is meant for her good is now turned into a reason to further cut herself off from any word that she might find uncomfortable. And the gap continues to widen.

I can see how someone might use this book as a way to give license to rude and selfish behavior. What ever happened to the old classics such as A.W. Tozer's "Humility," and William Law's "A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life?" Why do Christians continue to desire books that build up self--and refuse to read those that will show them how to die to self?

My said...

DEAR BLOG ADMINISTRATOR.

My name is "Mystical-1" and I just submitted a comment to this blog on the book "Boundaries." in the last paragraph of my comment I made a mistake. I mentioned the book "Humility" and gave credit to "Tozer." But the book was actually written by Andrew Murray.

If you decide to post my comment, I would be grateful if you would make this correction.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Anonymous said...

Currently reading 'When Your World Makes No Sense', by Dr Henry Cloud. Question about boundaries, scripture came to mind, 'be in the world, but not of it' sounds like setting boundaries in your relationships outside of Christ. Also about restoring a fallen brother or sister, but be careful lest you become tempted also and fall? Haven't read the book in question, but the book I'm reading seems to make sense, and has spoken to me in areas of struggle. Of course I did google this topic for critical review.

Anonymous said...

My wife of 31 years and I have had some difficulties due to my not being a steady spiritual leader among some other issues, nothing really catastrophic. Well she got this Boundaries book and started attending a support group to discuss the concepts of the book. To start with the class had 6 people in it plus a female leader. 2 of the people were men. In the 2nd week 2 of the women dropped out leaving 2 women and 2 men. The leader paired them up men/women to discuss a list of questions. These questions were intimate in nature and the leader expected for the people who are potentially having marital issues and boundary setting issues to discuss with a stranger of the opposite sex their inability or challenges to set boundaries in their marriage. What the heck? The only way I was able to get her to realize this was a terrible boundary issue was to ask the couple we go to counseling to discuss the issue. They immediately recognized the lack of good judgement on the leaders part and said this was not s good support group to engage with. Thankfully she stopped going. But she continued to read the book. When she began stating that I had crossed boundaries and she's was not happy with the marriage, she told me she needed to consider separating and go stay with her mother for a while she could work things out. I am mortified of this book as I began reading its concepts to understand what I'm dealing with. This book is total heiresy, it's a Christian culture accepted mash up of psychology and scripture. It's scary as hell as I am seeing my marriage potentially crumble right in front of my eyes.

I truly don't know what to do. I feel managed by the book right now. She gets frustrated if I haven't done something she expects and then threatens with protecting her boundaries. I am certainly making changes in my life, getting closer to my Lord and trying to be the leader he has called me to be. But I feel part of that I'm doing is in fear of the consequences (her leaving me), and I don't believe this is a godly way of treating each other.

After reading so many comments of marriages destroyed by this book on this and other boundaries book debunking websites, I am convinced that this book cannot help our marriage it is going to destroy it. Its like Inception where she now has a concept that she thinks is biblical and she feels empowered to self-protect and totally control reconciliation. There is not any oneness, there is no grace, and she is being driven and ruling by this boundaries concept.

If someone has advice as to how to stop this death spiral I would greatly appreciate if you would post and help me hold on to the wife of my dreams the love of my life.

Andrew Winfield said...

Cheer, I am deaf, and God had used my new brother in christ told me about his church, then Holy Spirit urged me to go with them, and I did jointed him and his wife on driving to their church (LCBC church in Waynesboro, PA). I was entertained with people.... I recalled something I did not know like something was uneasy in spirit at this church. I was puzzled, but trusted God leading me there for His Reason.

Then, I went in service seating with them, got summary with verse while Senior Pastor talked about Boundaries... I got mixed feeling, I could not hear or read his lip... I looked at one piece of paper about boundaries... weekly series teaching us about Boundaries, they were selling those books on the table at entrance area. I noticed the strong words God showed me I understood next day later, it was "False Humility". Then I came back next Sunday (last Sunday).... I got mixed feeling again while same pastor preached about it... I had not full peace about it... while full peace in my heart while I prayed for those people there, and mediated and chatted with God about His Words... I felt alive... but not this church.... then He led me to woman and I chatted with her, then Holy Spirit prompted His Words in my thought to encourage her, and those words I wrote and she read, it touched her heart powerful. Then She wanted to give me her book "Boundaries", I got mixed feeling like peace and no peace same time.... Peace I received this book, while no peace about this book... I was puzzled...

Two days later, I was impressed to take and began to read.... yet I could not read nor able to absorb the words Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr.Hohn Townsend wrote... I was puzzled something like Holy Spirit blocked from enjoying to read this book.... then I got words in my thought "False Teaching" something like that, I got urge by Holy Spirit to search in Internet, I found your article, then I got joyful with peace what you discovered false message, very twisted and mixed with God's Words along with authors' own minds/ways than God's.

I now am understanding why God wanted me to find out.... I see that pastor is blind not knowing full truth. Everything at church has gone too far while following authors higher than Holy Spirit!!! It grieves my heart a lot. I forgive them for not knowing what they had done...

I praise God for YOU warning people about false message in this Boundaries book.... to me about this book, it is completely DEAD in spirit. Pray for this church, and All people to open their eyes to knwo full truths, before too late.

Bless you with my all heart in Him, Agape, Andrew

Jessica Burgans said...

it's really sad to me how many men have am issue with this book because their wives are starting to set boundaries in their marriage. There are so many broken marriages because biblical foundations are misinterpreted. God calls husbands to live their wives as Christ loved the church. He chose the nails. Most of you have probably mistreated your wives for so long they're just now learning how to love themselves and make their well being a priority but will make mistakes along the way. The righteous response would be to welcome the boundaries, respect them, and understand that they're in a process too.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous married 31 years: It sounds like your wife is using the book to hold your marriage hostage which could lead to resentment instead of growth. We are to serve one another, counting others better than ourselves, not demanding "what's in it for me". Jesus showed us the true example of grace and forgiveness on the cross. I'm one of those who struggled with the book, not the blogger, but I would advise you to ask your wife to see a couples counselor and ask her to keep an open mind about the tools used by the counselor.

Albert Janzen said...

So sorry to hear of your sad situation Anonymous, but I and many other people can relate quite well to what you are going through and what might happen. Hard to believe there would even be comments to support boundaries. I lost my marriage to boundaries too 5 years ago when my wife divorced me against my wishes. There was nothing I could do to stop her and I really tried hard to appeal to her not to do it. But I have peace even though I am sad about what she has done. Over eight years I have had almost no contact with her even though we are in the same large church, easy to hide. I want contact, no boundaries from me, not her. But I leave her alone as she wishes. More recently I think the Lord has been showing me that boundaries can result in a spiritual stronghold under a clever guise of rational and even some twisted Scriptural reasoning. We are not in a fight against flesh and blood so there is no point getting upset at the authors of that book, or even getting upset at people who believe in their teachings. Its beyond human abilities to change that boundaries business, only God can. So, I say to you, work at getting healing for yourself and confess every sin to God and to anyone else affected so that you may obtain peace in your heart which is far more precious even than saving your marriage. I have come to realize that it is better to be single than to be treated as I was by a wife who was using boundaries to hurt me. Healing will take time, but in God's time it will come to you and you will be okay.
I know an older 81 yr old lady in my church who also has had boundaries used against her by her son and daughter in law for 25 yrs already. There is a relationship but it is strictly controlled and she has very very little contact with her young adult grandsons which is hurting her terribly. Also, my daughter uses boundaries against me to keep me from seeing my grandchildren, will be 8 years in October since I last saw them. You cannot tell me that God is smiling when these kinds of things go on among Christians. No way. There is just enough Christian content in Boundaries to confuse and deceive a lot of well meaning Christian people into thinking it is legitimate. There are more than enough comments on this site to support the conclusion that Boundaries is one of those poisoned wells we are warned to avoid in Proverbs 14:27 -- The Fear-of-God is a spring of living water
so you won’t go off drinking from poisoned wells.
Yes, the Fear of God and the Word of God are like pure and clean and life giving water sufficient for us to be able to manage all our human relationships for His glory and our most important relationship of all, with our Heavenly Father, Who never resorts to boundaries to keep us in our place. Praise God for that! Amen.

Ken Mynatt said...

Thank you Mr. Janzen for your commentary and advice. I'm about 2 years out from the
"Borders" in marriage result (23 years of marriage ended) my now ex-wife instituted in her life. Although some I have moments of peace I find myself in tears many times each week, hopefully that will pass.

Some of the things I've noticed:

Followers of boundaries become quite adept at becoming blind to their transgressions, while self-righteously pointing out yours. Instead of a log in the their eye, its more than a giant Redwood tree. My ex-wife has such a control issue now, believing she can control events and consequences because she controls who she lets into her life. As we all should know, God is in control, and we are merely to try to be the least sinful we can be, and deal with day to day problems following our Christian beliefs.

One of the things I've also noticed is a large portion of the boundaries followers seem to get the relationship order wrong. I'm referring to God first, marriage second, children third, etc. After reading the "boundaries" book, my ex-wife, she put herself first, children second, God third.

I wondering if others have witnessed this same result? I would hope some of the others who have posted on here can answer this question. I believe someone who is an established author could write a book about keeping the relationship order versus the boundaries philosophy of self first. To me, this subject is the overwhelming cause of the deterioration of marriages. It could be the father or the mother, but putting the marriage after the children, has such a negative effect on the marriage, it ends up damaging the relationship with the children, certainly an unintended consequence, but nonetheless, a real consequence.

One spouse believes putting the marriage behind other relationships is beneficial to the children when it not biblically sound and ends up harming the relationship with the children through a destroyed marriage.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, but the book contains a great deal more than this and very much oversteps its position, disturbingly often giving their own claims as scriptural or as 'what God wants' (an expression, not a quote). While some details found in the book are true, you will find that those with which Pastor Rick and I agree are those which are found in scripture- thus, the book contains some lies, and whatever truth it contains is also found in the bible. Clearly, then, a better choice than to read this book for wisdom is to read the bible for wisdom. I'm sure this is the viewpoint of all of us who agree with Pastor Rick based on biblical standards (although I do see comments by people who are simply against the teaching for personal reasons).