My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances — Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions — Emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others — Spiritual boundaries help us to distinguish God’s will from our own and give us renewed awe for our Creator — Often, Christians focus so much on being loving and unselfish that they forget their own limits and limitations. When confronted with their lack of boundaries, they ask: – Can I set limits and still be a loving person? – What are legitimate boundaries? – What if someone is upset or hurt by my boundaries? – How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money? – Aren’t boundaries selfish? – Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider setting boundaries? Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend offer biblically-based answers to these and other tough questions, showing us how to set healthy boundaries with our parents, spouses, children, friends, co-workers, and even ourselves.
I’m going to jump right into today’s review and say 3/5 stars for Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Goodreads translates this, “I liked it.”
As far as the compelling factor goes, I found this book to be fairly average. It takes a lot for me to be driven by a book of this genre, so it didn’t burst my expectations. I will say, however, that I appreciated the storytelling throughout the book. It gave me some examples of the principles put into practice – principles which play out differently from one real-life scenario to the next.
In terms of the impact this book had on my relationship with the Lord, I have two things to say. (1)This book really challenged (and changed) my views on some things. For example, I see now that saying ‘yes’ despite resentment in my heart is not actually a kind thing to do. On the contrary, it creates a wedge between me and the other. It makes our relationship superficial and deceitful. I thought the authors’ cases were very powerful on their own and were actually weakened by the Bible verses they added. Sound strange coming from me? Let me explain the second of the two points I wanted to make. (2)I felt that the authors took Bible verses out of their contexts and misused them in order to fit the Bible to their ideas. They claimed:
“The concept of boundaries comes from the very nature of God.”
And yet they used Jesus’ words about wide and narrow gates in Matthew 7:13-14, implying that He was referring to boundaries – that healthy boundaries are the narrow gate through which few enter though it leads to life. This example made the biggest impression on me, though there are others.
Honestly, I would be more enthusiastic about the doctors’ philosophies if they owned it as just that – their philosophies. I think that a lot of the principles are biblical (they promote stewardship, honesty, faithfulness, confession of sins, etc) but I also think they tried to force the Bible where it didn’t fit. I felt disappointed about that.
Those are the highlights of my thoughts on Boundaries. I liked it enough to give it three stars, and it left a mark on my life for the better. However, I would hesitate to recommend it.
A NOTE ON CONTENT
Physical abuse / domestic violence are mentioned briefly.
Sexual abuse is mentioned briefly.
Bible verses are used – I believe – out of context. Please look them up yourself rather than relying too readily on them.
Let’s Talk About It
- Have you heard of Boundaries before? Have you ever picked it up and scanned it, or read it through?
- What is your opinion on Christian living books and self-help books? Where does our work end and God’s begin?
- How do you recognise Scripture taken out of context? How much freedom of interpretation do we have and how do we know when we have taken it too far?