Did Jesus Really Say You Should “Hate” Your Mother and Father?

Ephesians 6:2-3 – “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

Yesterday, we started looking at four verses that are often weaponized and misinterpreted regarding family systems and dynamics.

#3 Children are to honor their father and mother. This is the fifth of the Ten Commandments, and God’s loving intent is that the child would live a better and longer life because of wisdom and discipline. Honoring is to be done inwardly with a humble heart and outwardly with obedient actions. Since the 1960’s, western culture has encouraged dishonor and rebellion in every generation between children and parents, which the end of Malachi says leads to a cursed culture, which explains most of our cultural problems with emerging generations. 

#4 Children are to “hate” their mother and father. Jesus’ words are strong and certainly grab our attention. The big idea is that devotion to God must exceed that of family and, if our family opposes our relationship with Jesus, we must deny them rather than Him. 

A Bible commentary says, “To hate is a Semitic expression meaning to turn away from, to detach oneself from. There is nothing of that emotion we experience in the expression ‘I hate you’… What is demanded of disciples, however, is that in the network of many loyalties in which all of us live, the claim of Christ and the gospel not only takes precedence but, in fact, redefines the others. This can and will necessarily involve some detaching, some turning away.” (1)

Matthew 10:37 reports Jesus saying the same thing with a bit softer language that’s clarifying, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” The issue is prioritizing your new birth and the relationship with God and His Family over every other relationship, including the family of your birth. On some rare occasions, keeping your God-given priorities may cause your unhealthy extended family to even feel hated, which is not the intent but is occasionally the outcome when someone demands ultimate allegiance. 

Only two of these four biblical commands we’ve looked at over the past two days are enduring throughout every season of your life – Honor your father and mother and “hate” your mother and father. The Bible talks a lot about seasons, and seasons of the relationship between a child and parent should change if the relationship is to be healthy. 

What can you honor your parents for? 

  1. Fred B. Craddock, Luke, Interpretation, a Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1990), 181.

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