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How can you explain the verse that says to hate your parents?

How can you explain the command to love mother and father against Jesus words that unless you hate your parents you cannot enter the kingdom of God?

Thank you for your question.

The principle is one of priority. Who we allow to take priority in our lives.

Matthew 19:19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

The idea is not that we should hate our parents because that is contrary to Jesus clear teaching above and elsewhere, but rather that we should give Jesus’ commandments precedence over those of our parents (where they conflict).

Similarly our wives, children and siblings have to take second place to Christ.

Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

In context we are to hate even our own lives when a choice has to be made between our will or ambition and the commandments of Christ.

The same principle is put the other way round in Matthew 10:

Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

The reason for it becomes clear in the context of Mathew 19:

Matthew 10:35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

And again in Luke 12:

Luke 12:51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:

52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.

53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

When a Jew became a Christian in the first century they were excommunicated from the synagogues and came into conflict with their own families.

Gentiles who became Christians would experience similar opposition from their idol worshipping families.

Jesus is preparing them for the conflict of loyalties which would ensue.

Down the centuries the problem has not gone away. If you belonged to say a Roman Catholic family and left the church to join another, similar conflict with your family members would be inevitable.

At the other end of the scale if you leave the Jehovah’s witnesses for the truth you will experience the horror of family ‘shunning’ – nothing has changed.

A difference of religious belief always generates schism. We need to know why we believe what we believe and not allow family members or our own earthly ambitions to turn us from the goal of eternal life.

Luke 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

I hope this helps

Glenn Smith

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