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What Would Jesus Do (In Stepfamily Situations)?

Anon2009's picture

I was reading through the blogs here, and whenever I read about divorced, blended and step families, I can’t help but think about the Bible. I didn't want to hijack those blogs so decided to post this here.

I can’t help but think, WWJD? I know the Bible isn’t the biggest advocate of divorce, and many Christian pastors don’t seem to advocate it unless one or both parties is being abused somehow and/or cheated on. What do you think Jesus would have to say about our situations, and each player involved in them?

Don’t you wish the Bible had clarified for some people that while you may love your kids much more unconditionally than your spous, and that’s perfectly ok, your marriage should come first because your kids will hopefully grow up to have lives of their own? Don’t you wish it spelled out for some people how Jesus loved both His disciples (in this case kids/adult kids) AND His church (wife) very deeply but very differently? Don’t you wish it had spelled out for these guys how destructive it is for their kids if they aren’t parented and taught to treat all people with respect even if they don’t like them, especially adults?

I just look at so many of the blogs in this particular forum and think, WWJD? What would He say to each person involved in the stepfamily situations here?

hismineandours's picture

I've struggled with this myself. At times my thoughts of ss14 are not of the Christian type. I have tried and tried and tried again with him for a number of years. There is A part of the bible that talks about resentments and how you should take those resentments to the person you are having problems with, if they don't listen then you are to take a group of people and confront the person, if that still doesn't work to resolve the issue then you are to treat them like a tax collector. I've never been really sure what That means as I am no biblical expert by any means, but it is always something that sticks with me.

sundowner's picture

I guess imo, I can look at ANY situation or set of circumstances and come up with the same answer..." what is the lesson Im suppose to be learning"? As if God had arranged my step family situation to teach ME something.Or simply ask myself.."no matter how I feel, what is the RIGHT thing to do?".For me right now, the answer is If the marriage is without the three A's..Abuse, Addiction or Adultry.then the right thing to do is to honor my marriage vows. That means not giving up on my step family situation.Pray for God to show me the way..even if it HARD!

StickAFork's picture

I think Jesus would have us love our stepchildren with the same abiding, unconditional love we have for our own children. I think He would have us treat our husbands with respect as the heads of our homes.

I also think if we chose to follow His laws (not divorcing) then a lot of these issues wouldn't exist. We make these problems ourselves by not following God's desire for our lives.

bi's picture

loving someone unconditionally isn't a choice. you either do or you don't. you can't force it. i don't love my sd at all. there is nothing wrong with that. i can't think of her as my own child because she ISN'T. i won't feel bad about that.

if mothers could love any child like their own, the bond between mother and her actual child wouldn't be very special at all. it would be no different than the bond with the neighbor kids.

StickAFork's picture

I believe Love is an ACTION, not a noun. Therefore, YES, we can other unconditionally.
We are actually supposed to love EVERYone, not just the ones who share our blood.

anafiodorova's picture

I agree that Love is an Action and we should love everyone and be kind and compassionate to everyone . When we see somebody that is toxic and is draining our life energy the best thing we can do is love them from a distance. A close friend of my mother chose to distance herself from her own granddaughter realizing that the young 21 year old woman is causing too much stress and influencing her health negatively. The young woman is in nursing school and her mother died from cancer when she was 18 . Currently the father lives with another woman and is financially supporting his daughter through school. There is so much grief in the heart of her grandmother because she buried her daughter . Now she goes through the grief of seeing her granddaughter and her poor behavior. She sure loves her granddaughter very much but from a distance. It is too much drama, manipulations and games. I feel for the woman that her father lives with because the young woman has it all provided for and still is unable to appreciate it. She is a very beautiful young lady and we all love her but her actions do not speak of love. We still love her from a distance and have compassion and kindness in our hearts for her.

bi's picture

i love people who give me a reason to love them. sd doesn't. big damn deal. since you're such a saint, you can come and love her since i don't, the poor wittle thing. Biggrin

Lady's picture

Jesus, I think will give us our reward for the mistreatment we have received from our SK's. It may not be in this life but in the life to come. In my opinion us SM's have done what is right by treating our SK's like we want to be loved and treated but we was forced to disengage from them just to keep our sanaity and some SM has had to leave the marriage because there was never be a change for them. The sk's thinks its their right to do what they want and have control but the bible planily says you will reap what you sow.They will be held accountable someday. When that day comes and these nasty SK's stand before God will they still say the SM's got just excatly what she deserves. (Dont think that will happen)! TOO LATE THEN FOR THEM TO SAY IM SORRY FOR INTENTALLY HURTING YOU. Sad

darkhorse's picture

personally I think even Jesus would dislike my sd's. He advocated forgiveness, modesty, generosity, and kindness. We never get anything nice ever no matter how generous or kind we are. If we can do that then we can do more for them even if they forget every holiday pertaining to their father in 2 decades....oh well DH hurt sd's by getting remarried and having more kids so they hurt DH back intentionally!!

Not-the-mom's picture

I found out some time ago that GOD got a divorce! See Jeremiah 3:8. He had his limits too!

Although God does not want us to divorce - there are times and situations (which each person must determine for themselves) where it is warranted or necessary for survival - emotionally, physically and spiritually.

To avoid divorce, it is important that we really know the person whom we are choosing to marry - BEFORE we take the vows.

To often many of us go by our 'feelings' instead of also using critical thinking in whom we choose to marry.

If my first husband hadn't gotten ill and died, we probably would have divorced. Things were not going well. And my current husband after many years of trying to work things out with an uncooperative wife, took the painful step of asking for a divorce.

Because of both of our experiences, we decided that we would not allow romance to be the dominating factor in our decision to marry. We had many long talks about many things that we knew from experience could kill a marriage. We not only loved one another, we respected one another, and had a lot in common in regards to our values, interests, etc....

This doesn't guarantee no problems in a marriage (which we later experienced when dealing with the kids, because the kids were such good deceivers) but it has helped us know we were not going to be divided by the kids' tactics and bad behavior that came to full bloom later.

We stood on the perspective that there is a hierarchy in our marriage:
THIRD - KIDS (those living at home)
FOURTH - EXTENDED FAMILY (adult kids, parents, siblings, counsins, etc..)

In Matthew 10 Jesus says that when we do what is right, even our own family (children) "will rise up against parents...." Setting loving, healthy boundaries does not mean there won't be strife in a family.

Jesus said "Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." Matthew 10:16

It is a warning to be on guard against others tactics (even in our own families) to do us harm through deceit, manipulations, promises they won't/don't keep, trickery, good intentions, delusions, lack of integrity and maturity, etc.... and on the other hand to try our best to be honest, forthright and dependendable and to have integrity, etc...

Setting healthy boundaries BEFORE getting married can help a marriage have a much higher degree of success, instead of trying to do this after you are married.

So, I guess I wouldn't make "not getting a divorce" an answer, so much as not getting married with unrealistic and uninformed ideas/perspectives.

Marrying someone in the belief or hopes that things will get better after you are married - or "I can change them through love" is not wise.

But even if you do everything "right", you can still get blindsided. Sad

Myself's picture

I think Jesus would have reacted just like a normal, very kind human being because after all, he was only that: a human being.

And besides, I don't know why Christians expect the Bible to talk about these issues when the bible EXPLICITLY says that your god hates divorce:

Malachi 2:16: “I hate divorce, says the LORD God of Israel.”

That said, I don't believe in any god, I'm an agnostic atheist so I couldn't care less about what the bible says.

jennaspace's picture

I've really thought about this one. Pardon any sloppy communication, I'm tired and just want to jot down my thoughts quickly.

Firstly, we are called above all to love. In my weakness or just humanity, I have found that the more contact I have with DH's family the more prone I am to unforgiveness and that really concerns me (think of "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us").

I've found that for me, the best way to love my H's family is through prayers (pray for your enemies) not relationship. When I am close and they insult or reject me, I again get caught up in bitterness and anger. Thus I honestly feel keeping my distance (wiping the dust off your feet was advised for some in the bible) helps me to have a right attitude toward them. As a side note, it also helps me to be a more godly wife and mother.

Much of what was done to me was false accusations. Who is the great accuser and the Father of lies? I think sometimes the enemy uses people we feel bound to the most to try to destroy us. We need to understand we are not generally bound to be in a friendship type of love but in agape love.

Our family is the church not necessarily those related to us. We don't have to feel so bound to people, esp adults who are not family in the Christian sense.
Matthew 12:46-50
"While he (Jesus) yet talked to the people, behold his mother and brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, "Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with you." But he answered and said, "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand towards his disciples, and said, "Behold, my mother and my brethren! For whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."

Christ knew very well that the members of a person's household would be their enemy. I suspect that if the two women who were the rudest to me had been abiding in Christ, none of the junk would have come my way (false accusations, hate, jealousy... all evidence of not abiding) (Matthew 10:34-36) - "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35"For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household."

Here's a great quote from C.S. Lewis... I imagine somebody will say, “Well, if one is allowed to condemn the enemy’s acts, and punish him, and kill him, what difference is left between Christian morality and the ordinary view?” All the difference in the world. Remember, we Christians think man lives for ever. Therefore, what really matters is those little marks or twists on the central, inside part of the soul which are going to turn it, in the long run, into a heavenly or hellish creature. We may kill if necessary, but we must not hate and enjoy hating. We may punish if necessary, but we must not enjoy it. In other words, something inside us, the feeling of resentment, the feeling that wants to get one’s own back, must be simply killed. I do not mean that anyone can decide this moment that he will never feel it any more. That is not how things happen. I mean that every time it bobs its head up, day after day, year after year, all our lives long, we must hit it on the head. It is hard work, but the attempt is not impossible. Even while we kill and punish we must try to feel about the enemy as we feel about ourselves — to wish that he were not bad, to hope that he may, in this world or another, be cured: in fact, to wish his good. That is what is meant in the Bible by loving him: wishing his good, not feeling fond of him nor saying he is nice when he is not.

At the end of the day I have found that I have become a better Christian by keeping away from people who use family ties to abuse me. I can better serve them by praying for them from a distance. This keeps down my resentment and helps me to keep my focus on what I need to.

Also, we must remember that God is does tell us to rely on him for vengeance. This is rarely talked about, yet the Bible is full of reminders that "He will repay". It helps me to know that I don't need to take revenge. An all knowing God can take care of that just fine.

LizzieA's picture

This is a good discussion and I enjoyed all the posts. I am taking jenna's route of praying from a distance and it has seemed to help with DH's family. Now working on my own.

ctnmom's picture

Interesting post and answers. This is a subject close to my heart. A very devout christian once said to me" Where in the bible does it say that you have to be a doormat for someone else's rudeness?" Truer words were never spoken. I'm Catholic. One of the cornerstones of my religion is forgiveness. But sometimes, it's not about forgiveness, it's about how you want to live your life moving forward. You can forgive and forgive, and it's a cleansing and wonderful thing, but if nothing changes.... then we have to use that "free will" Gad gave us as humans and make some sanity saving changes. Me, I just try to stay prayered up and do the best I can everyday.

bi's picture

i agree. i highly doubt God would blame me for just cutting sd out of my life. it's not like i spend every waking minute plotting her demise. i simply don't interact with her anymore than i absolutely have to. she is not an asset to my life. she's a stressor and an irritant. she's not a good person and she wishes bad things for me. so uh yeah. i don't love her or want her anywhere near me.

Nichole's picture

How old is your step daughter?    How does your husband react to the situation?  How does your step daughter react to you ignoring her??

jennaspace's picture

You're welcome Lady. Maybe we should all pray for each other too, that we know how to love in the face of hate.

I think our biggest mistake would be to dismiss ourselves & think these are just cat fights . I think the cat is more a prowling lion (Eph 6:12, 1 Pet 5:8 ), as that's really who we are up against. The anger and resentment can consume years of our lives if we allow it. I could have dealt with the animosity better if someone had just come up and slapped me. My reaction would have been swifter and it'd all have been out on the table and dealt with.

There is a book written by a man who died for 9 minutes in World War II. I'm no mystic but I think this book has validity and this certainly happened in the bible (rising from the dead... spirit of Samuel, Lazarus). I thought it interesting that one of the first things Christ shows him is that his grandma really distorted and caused him to hate his stepmom. He realized it was his grandma's fear and subsequent divisive speech that contributed to the root of long held animosity to his stepmom. If it is true than God thought it was pretty important that this man understand what happened to his step mom.

I know there are many, many evils in this world and stepmom's certainly aren't perfect, nor are we the poster child for martyrdom. Still, I think it's the every day subtle rejections and animosity that undermine our relationships and quality of life if it we allow it. Step motherhood is certainly full of them.

Here's the book about the man who died if anyone is interested. As ethereal as this book sounds this guy is very pragmatic and later became an M.D..

Rags's picture

Who knows?  The answer to that is no one knows.

However, I am firm believer that the greatest gift to man is intellect and it is up to us to figure out our life's problems.  Not addressing problems with the gift of intellect is to deny that gift.

WWJD? I am confident that he would address the problem. He would take action.  I completely agree that love is action.  Even if the feelings of love are not initially present, taking the actions of love can grow the feelings.   Many parents have told their children that they love them but do not like them very much.  This is a strong message that the behaviors a kid is perpetrating are not worthy of love.  The message certainly made a notable impression on me when I received it a few times in my youth.   This message demonstates unconditional love while making it clear that the actions are not appropriate and by those actions the perpetrator is not worthy of  unconditional love. 

IMHO of course.