Boundaries Protect

Monday, January 18, 2021
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Scripture: (Num 34:1-2 NKJV)  Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {2} "Command the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance; the land of Canaan to its boundaries.

Observation: One more time, while at the borders of the Promised Land, God gives Moses and the Israelites with him clear directions for their future.  Chapter 35 deals with the cities of refuge to which anyone who might have killed somebody accidentally could go so the death of the other person would not be avenged by their relatives.  But before settling in the cities of refuge, in chapter 34 we read of the boundaries for Israel – boundaries to set the limits of their entire country as well as internal boundaries between the tribes.  These boundaries were set so Israel would know how far to go in settling in their new country, so they would not go indefinitely from conquest to conquest, but also so others would know not to trespass Israel’s borders.  At the same time, each tribe needed to know how far their territory would extend, and they were to marry among those within their own tribe as well.  These boundaries were for their knowledge, for their safety, for their protection.

Application: Psychologist have defined three types of boundaries in family systems: permeable (open, diffuse), impermeable (closed, rigid), or semipermeable (flexible, porous).

______________________           __  __  __  __  __  __  __  __  __  __             . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Impermeable                               Semipermeable                                            Permeable

If we think of a house in which there is a room, an impermeable boundary is one in which the room is completely walled off with no windows and no doors, or, if there is a door, it has been locked.  In this case, relationships are either cut off or characterized by poor communication or no communication, as well as rigidity and indifference. The individuality value prevails over the togetherness value.
     A permeable boundary is just the opposite; it is one with weak boundaries. The room has insufficient walls, or perhaps walls with multiple doorways, but no doors. Passage in and out is completely unrestricted. Togetherness is all important; individuality tends to be sacrificed. Relationships are about feeling, thinking and doing everything together.
     Semipermeable boundaries enable a healthy balance between togetherness and individuality. The room has some windows and a door or doors that can be opened at times and closed at other times. An individual can be free to be himself and yet fully engaged as a member of the group. Semipermeable boundaries are characterized by open communication, a healthy sense of self, and the ability to distinguish between one’s own thoughts, feelings and problems and those belonging to others.
     Relationships need boundaries for their protection.  There needs to be boundaries that are appropriate to that relationship – boundaries between spouses may be more permeable than those between parents and children.  Boundaries between friends should be more impermeable than those between members of the family.  Let’s keep our boundaries clear sp everyone may be safe.

A Prayer You May Say: Father, thank You for the boundaries in our lives and relationships because they are not there to divide us but rather to protect us.  May we respect others’ boundaries and thus show them the respect and love they deserve.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

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