Does Jesus Really Want Me to Hate My Family?
The sayings of Jesus were so simple and plain that those who heard Him could understand Him. He left earnest hearers no doubt about God's love and care for them and what God will require of them.
Today, readers of the Bible can find in the gospels the spiritual assurance, the strength, and the wisdom that they need to determine their life. But while this is true, some of Jesus' teachings are interpreted in different and contradictory ways. While the essential gospel ideas cannot be misunderstood, many of His sayings can be interpreted in different ways.
One particular problem is whether, in certain teachings, Jesus wished His words to be taken literally. If taken literally, these teachings seem to make unreasonable demands on Christians. Many have therefore condemned Christianity as the impractical dream of an ancient idealist who meant well but could not provide men with practical guidance.
Take for example, the following verses:
“Honour thy father and thy mother…”– Exodus 20:12
“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. ” — Luke 14:26
Atheists have often used the following two verses to show that the Bible has contradictions. This ‘hate speech’ from Jesus in Lk 14:26 also seems to contradict the Prince of Peace telling us to love our enemies.
Does Jesus really want me to hate my family?
Jesus said, “ If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Mt 5:29-30).
Do we need to mutilate our bodies as a punishment for our sin?
It was natural for Jesus to use figurative language in that period, and He could not have held His audiences' attention in any other manner. Similes, metaphors, illustrations, parables, and hyperbolical expressions were constantly upon His lips. Therefore, we must always be careful not to interpret figurative statements literally.
Jesus was not demanding that we literally hate our family. He was using hyperbole to illustrate the steep cost of following Him. Those who wish to follow Him must be willing to give up everything to love Him unreservedly.
Jesus’ purpose in saying, hyperbolically, that sinners should pluck out their eyes or cut off their hands is to magnify the heinous nature of sin to His hearers.
Jesus used hyperbole a lot. These are ways of saying a strong point in a very exaggerated way. I hope this will help you when you have conversations with others who try to argue that the Bible is filled with contradictions, or impossible to follow instructions.
in you are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Open my eyes so that I may see the wonders of your Word. Make Your Word clear to me so I can explain it to others who claim the Bible contains contradictions or difficult instructions. Teach me to read Your Word in light of the culture of that time so that I can better appreciate the teachings of our Lord Jesus. In His name, I pray,