Should I Hate My Parents? Is That What the Bible Says?

Should I hate my parents? Really? That seems a little . . . unjust?

I read one of your articles, and it said,

26“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”

Matthew 14:26-28 (ESV)

But, in the Bible, it also says to love one another and respect your parents. So, should I hate my parents? Or love them?

Tim’s Answer – The answer is nearer than you think

Here’s a quick answer. The Bible does not teach that we must hate our parents, as we currently, in our language, interpret the word hate.

Your question about hating father and mother and loving them can be confusing.  Jesus says both.  The answer to this issue has to do with the meaning of words.  In English, our words for hate and love are opposites.  If one loves someone, they cannot hate them because hate is the opposite of love. 

However, Scripture was not originally written in English.  Jesus did not speak English.  He spoke either Hebrew or Aramaic, two languages closely related to each other.  And His words are recorded for us in Greek, another language. 

In the Greek, the word we translate as hate is more nuanced in meaning than the word “hate” in English.  Within its field of meanings is the idea of loving less.  It is this idea that is present when Jesus speaks of hating one’s father and mother.  The concept is that they must love their father and mother less than they love God. 

The problem with Eli in 1 Samuel 2:29 was that he honored his family above God.  That was a serious problem.  The great test of Abraham in Genesis 22 demonstrated that he loved God even more than he loved his dearly loved son.  Abraham passed that test. 

The believer must always keep Christ as the supreme love of their life.  Under that love and because of that love they should love their families, their friends, and even their enemies, as Jesus Himself taught. 

In His service,

tim

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2 thoughts on “Should I Hate My Parents? Is That What the Bible Says?”

  1. I don’t think Tim was a fan of hyperbolae which, I believe, is the figure of speech that Jesus is using here; It is similar to phrases like “straining a gnat and swallowing a camel” or “if your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.” Often Jesus used hyperbolae for stark comparisons — our love for God should be so much greater than our love for parents that it looks like “hate” in comparison. When Jesus said “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” is another example of a hyperbolic comparison that really drives the point home.

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