How To Cut Someone Off The “Christian” Way

Anonymous asked a question:

I want to cut my brother out of my life because it’s hurting my faith & self-esteem. i wanted to know your opinion on taking bad influences like him out of your life … am i a bad person for even wanting this? how should i get past this whole ordeal?

Dear friend, first please know that cutting people out of your life is absolutely acceptable as a last resort. I say this with hesitation, since we’re all so quick to find reasons to give up on others (me included), but there’s no rational reason to stay in a place of abuse and endangerment. We must discern the difference between finding someone unpleasant and running from someone tyrannically cruel. If the person we’re talking about is mercilessly manipulative or physically abusive, then much of what I’m about to say must be cautiously applied, or even withheld. And forgiveness doesn’t have to mean friendship.

When it comes to family, the dynamics make it brutally difficult to exercise boundaries. Family is tangled with history and an almost helpless weight of loyalty. If conflicts with friends are firecrackers, then family is like defusing an atomic bomb.

Please allow some grace as I try to give unbiased advice both to you and myself.

1) Keep distance, but leave the door open as wide as possible.

I really believe having some space between you and your brother is a totally acceptable move. You are not a bad person for needing that distance. It’s the same way you need space from friends, from your spouse, even from your children. The amount of space is almost directly proportional to the hurt and healing process.  In other words: you take as much time as you need.

But with family, it’s not really a space that can remain permanent. The phrase “cutting them off” is reserved for moochers and abusers and freeloaders. If your brother is lying, stealing, cheating, and basically all around a parasite, then of course you can cut him off: but for a season.

That season lasts about as long as your brother is acting a fool. But if he comes around again, whether for help or for the holidays, keep an open door. Severing ties with family should never be a one-time-for-all decision. Yes, he may be lying again: but having an open door absorbs the risk of that possibility.

Carrying hurt-baggage into the next cycle of life after your brother has changed (and I believe he can) will adversely affect your heart more than someone else hurting you, long after the trial is over.  A grudge poisons at an imperceptible rate, drip by drip, until you’re closing doors at even the best people in your life.  Those who are cold to their family have built walls that are impossible for others to climb.  So please be wary of that and endeavor to keep the door of grace open.

2) Have the awkward, uncomfortable, straight-up talk.

If you simply walk away from your brother — which again, for a season you can — but then don’t tell him why, he’ll have nothing to consider.  Even if you think he might know and he’s heard it from you before, it would be wise to tell him exactly what you’re doing and why.

There are some who would advise against this.  “You don’t need to tell him a thing.”  Or some would go hyperbolic and say, “Let him have it and then cut him off!” But as graciously as you can — preferably face to face though a letter works too — tell him what’s up.  Encourage him with how things could be, but tell him how it really is.

Please believe me that when I was cut off before, I was told exactly why and I’m appreciative.  At the time I hated hearing it and I came up with reasons why they were wrong and I was right.  But I couldn’t escape the undercover truthfulness of their words.  At times they would echo in my mind: If I don’t cut you off, you’ll end up nowhere.  And later I found out they were right.  I’m grateful they were honest. 

I’m never grateful when people cut me off without a word.  In fact, that’s really doing a disservice to someone if you don’t tell them what’s wrong.  As hard and awkward as it’ll be, please succinctly prepare that in your mind.

3) Bad influences are bad. God is badder.

There are plenty of Bible verses about bad influences and wolves: we should be cautious around them.  Light has no fellowship with the dark. Expel the immoral brother.  There are wolves among us.  Right?

But we must balance these with verses about the prodigal, the tax collector, and the whore.  There is grace and mercy for them.  As much as bad influences might “infect” us, there’s also a mission in which you, the good influence, have come to be a light like a city on a hill.  Like C.S. Lewis says, you’re pretty much the good infection.

That will require more strength than you can muster on your own.  Lots of prayer, which I’m sure you’re doing.  Lots of saturation with the Bible, with other Christians, getting counsel (even through a blog like this), and dare I say being able to vent to your friends. 

It’ll require daily forgiveness.  Absorbing some of the pain he has caused you.  Regrouping and replenishing when he’s been selfish.  Pleading with the Holy Spirit to change him, but also change you.  In short: when someone begins to cut into your faith, you’ll need to go back to the author of that faith and power-up again. Which brings us to the last thing.

4) In the end, this is not about you and him, but you and Him.

It’s possible your brother might never change and that the situation will stay the same.  But God intends to keep working in you

Your brother is not so much an enemy on a battlefield as he is a self-selected slave on a minefield.  Of course you know it’s not your job to rescue him, but I do believe one day he’ll run his life dry and you’ll be the steady beacon that was always there. In the meantime, it will have been up to you to examine your own heart in this and grow in humility. 

Your brother will remember your patience, if you were patient.  He’ll remember your graciousness, if you were gracious.  And even if he doesn’t recognize that, you will recognize that.  God does too.  Pray hard about what God is doing right now, because I believe He is definitely doing something — and He always works for your good and His glory.  Believe that.

— J.S.

50 thoughts on “How To Cut Someone Off The “Christian” Way

    1. There is nothing Christian about cutting someone off no matter how you do it. Maybe you think that doing it that way is less cruel, but it’s not. Or maybe you’re not thinking of anyone at all, just yourself.


      1. Hey Alice, I think you’re right, much of the time it’s selfish. I don’t think it’s a first resort, and not always a last one either. I’m thinking of extreme cases of trauma and abuse. In the hospital I’ve seen a patient’s boyfriend literally climb on top of her and start punching her in the face. Another man whose hand was sliced off clean. A woman who was set on fire by her sibling. In these cases, I don’t know all the answers. I don’t know if they should reconcile (or shouldn’t). But I think for their safety, it makes sense to keep a distance for a while. The church too often forces reconciliation before there’s been time for healing on both sides (and before the law even has a chance to get involved). Each situation is messy. Again, I don’t know if “cutting off” is right for any of these. Maybe people use “cutting off” as an excuse and they need to examine themselves on their motives. But I can see why it would need to happen in abusive homes and relationships. It’s an unfortunate and unidealistic decision.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think you minimize the profound evil. We teeter on the pathological selfish and the pathological Christian. Both are evil. The latter for permitting the evil. The psychological abuse can be much much worse. Gaslighting, smear campaigns etc… do profound damage. They destroy your relationships, can ruin your career, land you in prison etc… In my case my sister destroyed my children in a way that ended our relationship and their salvation is in grave jeopardy. We have an obligation to protect the innocent and our own souls. God first. You cannot serve two masters.


      2. If a friendship is to one- sided, then do you really have a friend ? More than likely you have a user. I think you should distance yourself, but leave the door opened and see what happens. They’ll probably move on to use someone else.


      3. As someone who has been abused mentally and emotionally by my mom and sister’s all my life, before you judge the abuse, remember ‘walk a mile in my shoes’. Unless you have been through it, you can not understand it.


      4. Hi i had a women living with me 5years she had put strangr witchcraft on me do not want to cut her want to help her she did blovk me is there a way my believes in christianship is failing cause of thid


      5. This is simply not true. God will NEVER ask you to stay in a situation where you are belittled and abused. You can love and fervently pray for someone from a distance. Anything else enables them to continue to behave poorly. Can there be reconciliation? Of course. But there also may never be and sometimes that’s because shod has removed that person from your life.


    2. My Father has cut me out of his life because he doesn’t beleive he is my father as he does not recall having sex with my Mother. He has said before the dna tests that he would be there for me if I were his daughter but as I am not he won’t be. All I wanted was to be accepted as his first born child as I grew up knowing he was my biological Father and the three dnas and court proved he was my Father without a doubt but although he sees himself as a Christian he believes he is right and everyone else is wrong. I am worried for him with the path he has chosen. I have asked him for nothing other than to beleive my Mother, the legal dna and fact he does remember sleeping with her on a sofa at time of conception whilst drunk ! I forgive him but the pain does not go away despite being a grown woman. What can I say or do to help ?
      Thanks Karen..


  1. Very wise, and very well written. But for the grace of God go I, is something to keep in the back of ones mind. Always keeping the door open is linked to Gods grace, and personal humility, and love in good ways, as stated above. I am printing this out to place on my desk. Bless you for writing it so aptly for me.


  2. I’m sorry but the in my case when my family members are engaged in witchcraft and promoting homosexuality and causing me to exasperate my chronic illness then they are cut off until they can be a good functional encouraging part of my life and respect my Faith. Some people have no desire for God. Unless and until they change,they are not welcome in my life. The door is closed and pad locked.


    1. Wow Sonya – this sounds like what I’m dealing with. I’ve actually put a good amount of distance but now, I keep getting messages from them asking for forgiveness….I do forgive, of course but I don’t want them around me and my family. I don’t know how to respond to that.


  3. This is a tough one. When you are trying to please God, it seem like every one around you isn’t. It is so important to surround yourself with other Christians. Yet not all Christians are “healthy” minded and have really bad manners. Sound familiar? Seek out what is reasonable. Do not settle for bad advice. God has the ultimate say. Leave a Church that is funky. Do not let any Church tell you something that you know is contrary to God’s word. Be Smart. Be calm. Believe it or not, it is really hard do take this advice for my own life. Just know that you are not alone !


  4. I have a sister in law who is Christian but with me she shows no respect which she has expressed over and over again. It seems like she is only my friend based on how I can bless her. If she reaches out to me, I respond. If I reach out to her, she ignores me. I have decided to cut her off and keep my distance. She is now unable to contact me and now I have so much more peace because I feel like I ended the game that she is playing. She seems to have problems with many of her relationship works, church and family. I always felt bad for her but now this is affecting my peace so I am now keeping my distance. I do know our paths will cross again and I will make a quality decision to show her God’s love.


    1. Show god’s love? You cut her completely out of your life, closed door. She’s unable to contact you 🙄. Maybe god should cut you completely out when you sin against him because your sin is effecting his peace of mind. Funny how we want grace from god but quick to withdraw grace to others. Hypocrites


      1. Whitney, you can forgive someone and be gentle as a dove but wise as a serpent. wise as to not let ppl in too close because at the end of the day,these ppl need JESUS not us. we can point them in that direction and sometimes when u get cut off or let ppl think about how they are treating others or living their life,if they humble themselves,theyll hit a point where theyll want God to intervene. Enabling is not Christ like, even Jesus dusted himself off and went to the next town. The enemy can use ur naivety and use them as a tool and make ur life miserable because you allowed him to enter that way. This is spiritual warefare,not mickey mouse fun house lol u dont have to let anyone in physically,it shows mercy and forgiveness when you ask Father to come into someones heart,to soften their heart,praying against the wickedness that u saw displayed. Maybe u see theyre jealous, or manipulative so you pray against Jezebel and etc. Its not the end of their life because u have kept your distance,if they do come full circle and u let the Lord know you want reconciliation when they are in the right spirit,it will happen because you have asked and the Lord protects and hear the righteous. It is a part of grace by letting God get to someone,maybe u are in the way, constantly helping and being available so they never see it. u can be around the area,they just dont have to be in ur face,its possible to keep things short and sweet with ppl,some ppls demons are extremely prevalent and controlling and u really do have to stop speaking to them and start praying for them.This isnt a personal and physical fight,


        1. Thank you for this comment. This is where I am now. It has been so hard to let go and let God. I feel guilty. But I do wonder if I was standing in the way. I’m praying fervently for them though at the moment I think they hate me for asking for space.


      2. i am 83. i gave birth to 3 children. my husband of 55 years left for HEAVEN 5 years ago. my 2 girls live in my state, my son is in another. when my husband passed, my younger daughter left for her vacation just days before. she knew he was dying. she DID NOT come home until 4 days later. it was a road trip that could easily get her home where she belonged. i have never had a great relationship with her but this put me over the edge. i don’t drive. my son comes to see me as often as he can & calls me every week. my older daughter is my rock. she takes me to lunch, shopping, drs,. etc. my will was written when my husband was alive. the 3 share equally with the younger one having my power of attorney. i am changing that to my older daughter. i want the younger one OUT entirely, as i have seen or talked to her maybe 6 times in the last 5 years. but my other children insist i leave my will the way it was originally written. i am really torn by this. any thoughts?


  5. Would it be too much to ask for scripture, Biblical examples, etc?
    Because I’m teaching against the ‘cutting out’ of people based on how they make us feel, etc…..BUT also using WISDOM as to who we make close friends, spend our time with, etc…

    As believers (rare) we must always remember that we are servants, we are slaves and we are not here on earth (after salvation) for any other reason than to share the GOSPEL and to SERVE God; loving those within the body and showing the ‘love’ of Christ to the world by NEVER wavering in our faith and always placing Christ first. We CONSTANTLY are hit with the idea that Christ ‘wants us to be happy’ and we have ‘rights’, but in reality Christ wants us to find our Joy IN HIM, THROUGH SERVING and to remember that here on earth WE HAVE NO RIGHTS….

    I can go much deeper than this, but we MUST be careful in this concept of worldly thinking that ‘we have rights like everyone else and God wouldn’t want us to be mistreated..stepped on…used..’

    In reality, these things WILL happen, but the difference between US and the WORLD is that we ENDURE through hardships for the sake of CHRIST, not to ‘protect ourselves’…
    Christ ALLOWED His people to go through NIGHTMARES, HORROR, HELL ON EARTH, TORTURE, ABUSE, REJECTION, ABANDONEMENT, SORROW and everything in between….
    Instead of saying, ‘protect yourselves, one to another..’ He instead says relentlessly, ‘ENDURE….have patience….MY grace is sufficient….FORGIVE your enemies…do GOOD to those you hurt you….LOVE ONE ANOTHER (believers) as Christ loves His Church…’ and on and on.

    So the next time you’re thinking, ‘I don’t DESERVE to be treated this way! I’ll just block and ignore them…’ remember that THAT is the FIRST reaction the WORLD has….and Christ taught us to endure all things, even abuse and even to DEATH in some cases, for HIS sake…

    Life is VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY hard…..and torterous, manipulative, spiteful people abound…But we don’t have a ‘put ourselves first’ card from Christ…Instead He’s given us an ALL EXPENSES PAID ‘my Grace is SUFFICIENT’ trip to heaven through Faith in Him and Enduring until the end.

    God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cutting anyone off is an absolute last resort. This is made clear two times in Scripture: once by Jesus and once by Paul. It’s never, ever a first line of defense, but the very last thing we would want to do, and done with a grieving heart. And even then, we leave a door open.

      Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-5. These passages are abused a little too much, but they do make clear that a relationship can be so toxic, we must consider the possibility of letting them run dry. This has nothing to do with persecution or being generally compassionate towards people. This is about friendships and close relationships that become so physically & mentally dangerous that it’s unsafe to stay. We have grace: but grace is for you, too.

      When I hear Christians burden each other by saying “love and forgive” all the time, it’s really promoting a form of enabling that doesn’t touch upon the nuances of an entire situation. Love and forgiveness doesn’t automatically mean friendship. A woman doesn’t have to stay near her abusive ex-husband. A parent doesn’t have to continually give money to their drug-addicted child. A child shouldn’t have to stay near an abusive parent. If we use the Bible to force someone to “be nice” in a harmful place, we’re coercing someone into a fake-smile. I will never, ever make someone stay in an abusive home. I refuse.

      I understand all you’re saying and I believe love is our absolute first priority, but I have to disagree with your generalization. It sounds too much like an idealistic fantasy in which Christianity is beating yourself up into an impossible standard. I’ve counseled too many people who have guilt-tripped themselves into staying in deadly relationships. I won’t do it anymore. There are a million reasons to stay, but there are legitimate reasons to escape, too. We’re called to be like Jesus, but we’re not Jesus.


    2. Perhaps you should read Acts 14 and Matthew 10. In theses chapters it talks about shaking the dust off your feet and not sticking around to be mistreated.


      1. Perhaps you should study out god’s love. So when the next time you sin against god he’ll remember Acts 14 and Matthew 10 and shake you off his feet and not stick around for your mistreatment (sin) towards him . You also, are hypocrites on this site. I’m sure there are millions of reasons god should cut you off and out of his presence…….. but it’s something about that thing called GOD’S LOVE. And to the author of this thread there that says we are called to be like Jesus but are not like Jesus , that is no excuse for not obeying his word. If we are called to be like him, then we need to OBEY his word.


        1. Wow, Whitney. I do not appreciate your rudeness towards your brothers and sisters in Christ. Please reflect on what it means to show God’s love to those you don’t agree with. While you are complaining about the speck in others’ eyes, you have a plank in your own, as evidenced by your hatefulness towards others in this comment section.


    3. This is well said and a perfect example of 1Corinthians 13 – GOD’S LOVE! When people cut others off , it a selfish act. God would never do that to us, in spite our sins against him. Amazing how people forget this very concept yet call themselves Christians.


  6. This was such a sincere thought out answer. Nice to read something you know is genuinely coming from a point of view of ultimately pleasing God and doing what is right in his eyes and not the worlds. Thanks this has helped me with a situation with a family member


  7. This is wonderful. I want to block out someone so badly because it’s easier. But as Christ led individuals it’s a necessity to show grace , mercy, and love above all else. We told to be salt , don’t run away from it. Jst be different from it . I will continue to ask God to help me get through this but I will also remember my goal here on Earth,.. be a disciple. I will be.


    1. I bet you wouldn’t want god to say to you. ‘I forgive you but I no longer want you as my daughter in christ’… hypocrite. You all are so quick to kill people in their mess-ups as if you never mess up with god and have the audacity to ask him for grace. 🙄


  8. You’re all so quick to abandon everyone that loves you. I think it’s really easy to find the bad in other people and turn your back on them, all the while thinking how great and wonderful you yourself are and never seeing the plank in your own eye. And then, to top it all off, you use bible verses to justify your own actions. Don’t any of you feel any pity for the ones that you have hurt?


    1. Al, they are hypocrites. God see everything under the sun. No man is without fault. If we were all perfect, we wouldn’t need god. They are just flat out hypocrites


  9. 2 Timothy 3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.


    1. So basically god should have nothing to do with you. We are all sinners Incase you hadn’t notice. No one is perfect, not one soul…including YOU


    2. You seem to be the first who’d cast a stone all the while seemingly developing amnesia of your up folly🙄


  10. I don’t get the hate on this blog post. It’s as if people can’t read. He is talking about cutting out toxic relationships NOT AS A FIRST RESORT. People will read whatever they want to read out of this. It’s as if people can’t read. Keep writing your posts, JS. You’re doing a great job dispensing wisdom for those who care to hear you for what you are trying to say.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Dr. Sam. This will sound judgmental, but I truly wonder if some of the commenters have walked around in the real world. The hyper-romanticized view of “love fixes everything” has really messed up a lot of people. While I believe the best about everyone, there is real abuse happening that requires a ton of safety and wisdom. I hope 1) many of these commenters DO NOT become therapists or social workers or lawyers, and/or 2) they never have to deal with real violence, lest they become trapped into it by false ideas of “love and forgiveness.”


  11. Thank you JS, I am blessed. Your write-up is humble and practical, full of wisdom and maturity. Thank you for letting God use you so marvelously. You answered my question.


  12. I just keep a distance. If they ask me why they haven’t seen me for a while, I might just let them know nicely but directly. I’m not good at being too direct though. This is easier said than done.


  13. Thank you for your kind words and insightful post. Anyone who spews hate in retaliation for what they deem is not right or fair or just or LOVE, is not showing the kind of LOVE they themselves are expecting of others. We should love others as Christ calls us to. Sometimes that is to do it within the confines of a relationship and sometimes it is to forgive, love, and pray for them, while staying away. I tell my young students sometimes you have to stay away and pray! I will continue to pray for God to change my heart first and my family members as well, in the situation I find myself in. I will trust Him, that the decision I made was His will; until and unless He convicts me of it. I will follow Him, then as well, in reaching out and back into a relationship that can and probably will cause me more pain and suffering. But only when He calls me to go to a place He will show me. Prayers for everyone dealing with these hard decisions and situations! May God’s peace and strength sureou d ypu and keep you!


  14. I’m trying to decide how to handle a group of friends who say they are Christians but pressure me to do things which aren’t godly.

    I am a middle aged woman and these women behave like teenagers. They do drugs, drink, slander others, and curse. When I am with them, I tend to also curse and slander others. They promote homosexuality, have sex outside of marriage, and are okay with abortion as a means of birth control.

    As an aside, they are not particularly kind to me, either. I have overlooked their insults and teasing, but I feel as if it is time to step away from the friendship. There is no way to hang out with them without them engaging – or talking about engaging- in this sort of behavior.

    I feel like they are a terrible influence on my walk with Christ and we would be better served by not being friends.


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