What Does The Bible Say About Walking Away From Family

The Bible emphasizes the importance of family, particularly between parents and their children. It instructs parents to raise their children with love, nurture, and discipline,but it also speaks to the sometimes difficult reality of having to walk away from family. Whether it is because of abuse, neglect, or disagreement, the Bible acknowledges the potential for members of a family to decide to part ways.

According to Edmund Chan, a Bible Study writer from Boundless.org, the Bible never explicitly states to “walk away,” but it does challenge Christians to live a life of holiness and righteousness. He explains: “This process may cause relational conflict and, at times, result in separation from certain family members. At the same time, the Bible does not condone complete severing of relationships, which may be what walking away could be equated to. Rather, the Bible encourages believers to continue loving those around them, including family, and embrace tension whenever there is a difference in opinion.”

The Bible also advises believers to forgive and be forgiving of their family members. Pastor Bruce Parham, founder of New Beginnings and author of ‘Healing Hurt through God’s Restoration,’ believes that walking away can involve a combination of forgiveness and time apart. He says: “I think being separate from someone can be necessary. It need not be permanent but gives an opportunity to repair. Sometimes it is necessary in order to save a relationship.” He further explains that taking a step back from the relationship may be the first step to healing it.

Indeed, in Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus instructs the importance of addressing sin within a family: “If your brother sins go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” The passage suggests that if communication and attempts at reconciliation do not work, some form of parting may be necessary.

The Bible also describes how God is always available to comfort and strengthen the believer, even during tough times. In Romans 8:38-39, it states: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

While walking away from family can be difficult, the Bible provides guidance to Christians on how to live in a way that honors God and respects others, even when disagreements arise. But, Christianity calls on believers to strive for holistic, reconciliation-oriented solutions whenever possible, and walking away should only be a last resort.

Family Abuse

Family abuse is a serious problem, whether it be physical or psychological. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, family abuse “is when a family member or partner attempts to dominate and control the other with behavior that is physically or emotionally harmful.” Emotional abuse can be just damaging as physical violence, and sometimes it’s even harder to detect.

The Bible emphasizes that we are to honor our father and mother (Ephesians 6:1-3). Even if our parents don’t treat us with respect, we must still show reverence.[The Bible does recommend taking action when abuse is detected. In 1 Thessalonians 5:22, it says: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” This message applies not only to the abuser, but also to any bystanders. Paul goes on to urge in Romans 12:17-19: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil…Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath.” Therefore, those exposed to abuse should seek help immediately and uphold biblical principles of justice.

It is okay to seek help and protect ourselves. Jesus even urges us to not confront the abuser in some cases. In Matthew 10:16, it says: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” In situations where being around the abuser is dangerous, it is acceptable to distance oneself for safety, and then look for ways to help and repair the relationship with the family member.


Family neglect is another serious issue that is not always understood. According to the World Health Organization, neglect is the “persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development.” These needs include love, safety, and security, as well as physical care.

The Bible encourages Christians to look out for those who need help and to help those who are being mistreated. In James 1:27 it says: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” It is important to remember that even if a child is not living in extreme poverty or lacking physical needs — for instance, having a roof over their head and food on the table — psychological neglect is still an issue, including when parents do not provide the love, attention and emotional care that children need.

The Bible also speaks out against neglect as an act of abuse. Psalm 82:3-4 says: “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Specifically in this passage, the Bible speaks to how God desires the protection of the physical and psychological needs of people — including children — who are unable to defend or look out for themselves.

Christians have a role and responsibility to help meet the neglected needs of others, and should never neglect to love and provide care to those in need. It is important to take steps to seek help in cases of neglect, which may include walking away from the situation if safety and protection cannot be guaranteed.


Not all situations where people choose to walk away from family involve abuse or neglect. Sometimes family members disagree on how to live life, or disagree on different values or beliefs. The Bible speaks to tolerance and respect in Romans 14:13, saying: “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”

In almost any disagreement — particularly between family — it’s important to be respectful and communicate with love. Jesus said in Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” The Bible also covers forgiveness in Matthew 6:14: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

It is true that the Bible instructs us to forgive, but it also allows for certain situations where stepping away from a relationship can be beneficial for both parties. Paul emphasizes this in 1 Corinthians 7:15 when he says: “If the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved.”

In other words, it is acceptable to walk away from a family relationship if the main issue is a difference in belief. To keep the peace, it may be necessary to take a step away while still maintaining some form of relationship.


The Bible stresses the importance of family, and also acknowledges that sometimes it is necessary to walk away from a family relationship. Whether it’s due to abuse, neglect, or different beliefs, Christians must strive to recognize the complexities of these situations. Regardless of the circumstances, biblical principles of justice, holiness, and love should remain paramount. In difficult times, the believer must remember that God is always faithful and will provide comfort, strength, and support.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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