Boundaries with the toxic
There are times when Christians need to set extreme boundaries for their relationships and there can even be times to separate from others. Jesus instructs us to separate from those who refuse to hear godly rebuke from the church and amend their ways (Matt. 18:17). They aren’t to be indulged forever. Jesus commands us to leave those who won’t hear His Word (Matt. 10:14), to be shrewd as serpents in the world (Matt. 10:16) and even not to love father and mother above Him (Matt. 10:37). In a similar way, St. Paul warns Timothy that some wicked people might claim to be learning, but if they never come to any actual knowledge and continue in their wickedness, they are liars who resist the truth. Timothy is to have nothing to do with them (2 Tim. 3:2–9).
Those are extreme situations. We pray that they are rare. We do not jump to extreme reactions or label people as toxic too quickly. At the same time, we should not pretend as though these things never happen. The world is wicked. We must be careful of the company that we keep. Solomon teaches us that “whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov. 13:20). St. Paul also scolds the Corinthians for letting themselves continually be abused by false teachers and sectarians. He writes: “For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that” (2 Cor. 11:19–21).