Hate our Mother, Father? Luke 14:26
Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries
Did Jesus advocate hating one’s mother, father, spouse, and children for His sake (Luke 14:26)?
In Luke 14:26 Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes, even his own life-he cannot be my disciple.”
It may initially appear in this verse that Jesus is saying that we should have the emotion of hate for our families for His sake. But I do not think that is what He was intending with His words. The beginning point for properly understanding this statement is that in Jesus’ ethic there is no room for truly hating anyone. We are to love even our enemies (Luke 6:27). As well, the fifth commandment instructs us: “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12), a commandment repeated in the New Testament (Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20).10 The Bible Knowledge Commentary notes: “Literally hating one’s family would have been a violation of the Law. Since Jesus on several occasions admonished others to fulfill the Law, He must not have meant here that one should literally hate his family.” Jesus in this verse is apparently using a vivid hyperbole (an exaggeration or extravagant statement used as a figure of speech). In understanding Jesus’ point, one must keep in mind that in the Hebrew mind-set, to “hate” means to “love less” (see Genesis 29:31-33; Deuteronomy 21:15). Jesus is communicating that our supreme love must be for Him alone. Everything else (and everyone else) must take second place. This is in keeping with what Jesus said in Matthew 10:37: “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Measuring our supreme love for Christ against other lesser loves may make these lesser loves seem like hate by comparison. Other Bible scholars have suggested that while the terms “love” and “hate” are manifestations of emotion in the Western mindset, the ancient Jews used these terms to refer more to a decision of the will. To “love” often carried the idea of choosing to submit, whereas “hate” often carried the idea of choosing not to submit. “When Christ demanded that one hate those to whom he is bound by the closest of blood ties, He was not speaking in the area of emotions but in the area of the will. A disciple must make a choice and submit to the authority of Christ rather than to the authority of the family headship.” Whichever interpretation is correct above, this passage clearly communicates that one’s loyalty to Jesus Christ must come before loyalty to family. Jesus takes first priority.