Provocative Bible Verses: Mom and Dad; I Love Jesus but I Hate You!

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. Luke 14:26

What in the world are we supposed to make of these words from Jesus? It seems to be a pretty clear and simple statement but does Jesus really want us to hate our families? When I was a new Christian there was a group that made this verse one of the foundations of their ministry. They convinced thousands of young people to renounce their parents, family and friends and run off and join their group. Most people intuitively sensed that this was NOT was Jesus had in mind but at the same time they didn’t know how to respond to what seemed to be a pretty cut and dried understanding of some clear words from Jesus. As a result lots of folks simply dismissed these words as something we just don’t understand and they instead moved on to more familiar, safe verse about who much God loved them.

But we can’t just ignore what Jesus said. The enemy, Satan, would like nothing more than for us to blow off such provocative verses and refuse to get any deeper in our faith that having a some vague sense that God thinks we are okay. We need to wrestle with what Jesus meant. In order to do that we must first understand what He did not mean. Clearly Jesus would not teach that we are to hate anyone in the way that we normally think of hatred. After all, it was Jesus who commanded that we not even hate our enemies but instead love them. (See It was also Jesus who said the two most important things you could do were to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Surely we are not expected to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and at the same time, detest our parent and siblings.

Some people try to use this as an example of a contradiction in the Bible and an excuse to ignore all of it. But there is no contradiction. When Jesus says to hate your parents He uses the Greek word,miseo. It is a word that has duel usage. It can in fact mean to despise or detest someone. But it is also used in the Bible and other ancient literature to mean “love less”. Numerous scholars of the Bible concur that in this an many other casesmiseo is used in to mean love one thing less than another. It is a matter of placing higher priority over one thing than another.

With that in mind the meaning of Jesus becomes easy to grasp but harder to live. What Jesus is saying is that there whould be nothing in this world that we love more than we love Him. We are not to love our parents more than we love Jesus. We are not to love our brothers and sisters more than we love Jesus. We are not to love our children, or spouse, or cousins, or next door neighbor more than we love Jesus. In fact He says that we are not to love our own life more than we love Jesus. That shouldn’t surprise us for two reasons. First, God said in the Ten Commandments that we are to have no other gods before Him. In other words, nothing in life is to have more devotion from us than the Lord our God. Secondly, Jesus said that we are to love God with ALL that we have and ALL that we are. The implication is simple, nothing and no one should have a greater place in our heart, and in our devotion, and in our love, than the Lord.

To emphasize the fact that we are to love nothing so much as we love the Lord, Jesus goes on in Luke 14:27 and says “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Those folks who heard those words come from His mouth had to have been stunned to the point of being frozen in their tracks. The image of carrying a cross was vivid to them. Anytime someone was carrying a cross they were on their way to their own execution. They were going to death, just as Jesus was when He carried His own cross. By saying that we are to love Jesus more than we love our parents and that we are to carry our cross for Him or else we are unworthy of being His disciples, Jesus is saying that when it comes to following Him, He wants your all. There is no halfway measure with Jesus. It is full and complete devotion or nothing. It is Jesus first or not at all. It is give Him your life even to the point of death, or not at all.

Sometimes your love for the Lord might mean that you have to say no to your family and yes to Jesus. Sometimes your love for the Lord might mean that you have to turn down a promotion because even though it will mean more money and prestige you know that it will have a negative impact on your relationship with Jesus. Sometimes your love for the Lord might mean that you must sacrifice your comfort and open your home to someone without a home. Sometimes your love for the Lord means you must live with rejection from people whom you care about, or face ridicule from others. You must love them and their acceptance and your comfort and your promotion and your prestige, less than you love Jesus.

So the right thing to say is not, mom and dad; I love Jesus but I hate you. Instead, it needs to be, mom and dad and anyone or anything else, I love you but I love Jesus most of all.

23 thoughts on “Provocative Bible Verses: Mom and Dad; I Love Jesus but I Hate You!

  1. Just stumbled upon you. Great post! I was reading this passage of scripture just tonight (from Matthew though).

    Also, your blog’s theme is interesting, just a week ago I started a meme called Marvelous Musings which is meant to focus on just these type of ‘provocative verses’ in your words 😉 Blessings in Jesus

  2. Stella

    Rana …he never ever want us to die!..does he? he gave us life so that we live. That is the whole point he came to earth and died on the cross so that we have eternal life!! a life without pain and worry of death and punishment.What you are talking of is death in this world, death of the flesh which we are sure of as on or the other day we all have to leave this earth. But he wants us to be free from this fake life..and be with him forever. Which is better?..Life in its fullness, enternal life or life on earth? You decide…do read the bible it really helps .God Bless:)) Well I know it is hard to believe that Jesus is it is not as easy as beliving that the Sun is millions of light years away. That every element is made up of molecules. Jupiter is made up of gasses… ..and so on… .:))

  3. Stella

    Rana …he never ever want us to die!..does he? he gave us life so that we live. That is the whole point he came to earth and died on the cross so that we have eternal life!! a life without pain and worry of death and punishment.What you are talking of is death in this world, death of the flesh which we are sure of as on or the other day we all have to leave this earth. But he wants us to be free from this fake life..and be with him forever. Which is better?..Life in its fullness, enternal life or life on earth? You decide…do read the bible it really helps .God Bless:)) Well I know it is hard to believe that Jesus is it is not as easy as beliving that the Sun is millions of light years away. That every element is made up of molecules. Jupiter is made up of gasses… ..and so on… .:))

  4. Rana

    if u read about the ebionites u will know tha tjesus was paganzed by the early church he was never god he was alwyas a servant of god. and th evirgin birth and th eressurection are all pagna mythology beleive it or not but i have proof. they decided to pagnanize the church for theri own purposes. I know u relaly hve to read history ,but u should know the real religion of jesus. he never was god.

  5. Dan Lacich

    Dear Rana,
    I think we are reading history very differently, not to mention the biblical texts. Jesus claimed equality with God on numerous occasions. Perhaps the most striking was in Mark chapter 2 when Jesus acknowledges that only God can forgive sins and then he does just that for the paralytic let down through the roof. It was at that point that the religious leaders decided they must kill him for blasphemy.

    I know the story of the ebionites very well and your contention that Jesus was paganized by the early church is simply not accurate. The Greek culture of the day, the pagan culture, was opposed to the idea of Jesus being God. That includes their opposition to the idea that he rose from the dead.

  6. Stella

    Hi Rana,

    Hope all is well…

    We all can make choices right? We can read History OR Bible- personally I believe that Bible is the the WORD of God- so every word is Life in itself- Now like you have read history putting your trust in words that a few men have written about the past where neither they nor you nor I were present- in the same way may I suggest you to read the Holy Bible whenever you get time- without being bias ( Keeping an open mind)with total eagerness to know the truth, to know God and I’m 100% sure that God will guide you with his spirit.I can point out a lot of verses like Isa 9:6 John 1:1 which tells that Jesus is God however I would encourage you to read the Bible yourself instead of we getting into arguements;) and beating around the bush :)) there are many verses in Bible that point to Jesus birth- born of a virgin ..and so on.and I know God will guide you to it. God knows it best:) …..Let me know if I can be of any help in your pursuit… May God the Father be with you now and forever! Amen

  7. jonas

    Well, you would think that the translation committee would have gotten that right then? First of all, Jesus would not have spoken Greek anyway; he would have spoken Aramaic. I’ve always wondered why there is no Aramaic gospel. IT makes little sense.

    Even though it is clear that we know that nobody who wrote anything in what we call the New Testament had ever seen the supposed historical Jesus, or had ever heard him utter a word or phrase, in order for this story to make sense, it seems that we would require — among other things — some kind of actual recording of his words. Whoever that supposed person of Jesus was, he did not go around speaking Koiné. Aramaic and demotic Greek are completely different languages.

    The nuances of one are not easily translatable into the other. How could one believe that he was hearing the actual words of the incarnate God, and not write them down and preserve them?

    And why are there these phrases thrown in in Aramaic in some passages, including the last words he spoke? Why? Where are all the other words then?

    I think this is a pretty big veracity issue, but that’s just me.

  8. Dan Lacich


    You make some good points and ask some good questions. However you also make some statements that I have to disagree with.

    As to why there is no Gospel in Aramaic, I think that is a fairly easy thing to understand. Aramaic had such limited use as a language that it would make no sense to have one in that language if you were trying to get the word out about anything. Greek was the lingua-franca of the day. If you wanted to communicate a message to the broader Mediterranean world you used Greek.

    Concerning your statement that “nobody who wrote anything in what we call the New Testament had ever seen the supposed historical Jesus” Even the most liberal of biblical scholars would not make such a claim. It is very widely accepted that Mark, the author of that Gospel was an eyewitness to much of what he wrote and that he wrote on behalf of Peter, his Uncle, who was also an eyewitness. The author of James is generally accepted as a half-brother of Jesus and certainly would have seen him. Matthew was in fact one of the 12 apostles and an eyewitness. But even if that is not the case, we accept a great deal of testimony from people who are not eyewitnesses of events. Our entire news industry is built around finding people who did see, or were involved in an event and reporting that. Why should we be any different with Luke, who makes it clear that though he was not an eyewitness, did the work of a reporter/historian and spoke to people who were?

    You state that “whoever the supposed person of Jesus was, he did not go around speaking Koine” How can you make that statement if you aren’t even sure who Jesus was? Is it not possible that he was bi-lingual and spoke koine and aramaic? Outside the USA being bi-lingual is a fairly common thing. That was also the case in Jesus day. Acts chapter two has a few thousand people on the day of Pentecost who are Hebrew speakers and also speakers of a language from whichever country they currently lived in. Where Jesus grew up in Galilee there was a great deal of interaction with the ten Greek speaking cities nearby that were known as the Decapolis.

    Why were some of his Aramaic words and not all of them recorded? I again go back to the issue of Greek being the language of the day and add to that the consideration of ones audience. Those Aramaic phrase that were used seem to be there because of the importance of the words in the cultural context. One example being Jesus use of “abba’ to denote an intimacy with the father that was somewhat shocking for some of his listeners. His final words on the cross are given in the Aramaic apparently to connect them with the Old Testament reference and leave no doubt to those around the cross as to what he meant.

    Anyway, just a few of my thoughts. I look forward to hearing back from you

  9. Kaom

    I asked this question to a guy, he still hasn’t replied… maybe you can…


    Question 1: are the gospels historically reliable?

    So Darren are there errors in the Bible, naturally you would say no. However from what I’ve studied of the bible the gospels have some reliable and some unreliable info, only careless readers don’t see contradictions in the gospels contradictions in the genealogies contradictions in timing of recognizing Jesus as the Messiah contradiction about when Jesus died contradiction about when the stone was rolled away contradiction about who was at the empty tomb contradiction about when the disciples went to Galilee contradictions in minor details means the gospels are unreliable. I can present for you a whole spreadsheet, which has been prepared by an associate of mine, who took the time to highlight as many contradictions as possible (I don’t know why he bothered, but he did) so if you wish to see that info, I can direct you to his website, and you can have a look for yourself, (and see his other material if you wish)

    Question 2: Do the gospels accurately preserve the teachings of Jesus Christ?

    Again Darren I’ll ask ya… are there any discrepancies in the gospels? the gospels have things Jesus said, and things he didn’t say if the Bible is inaccurate in some minor details, then it’s all unreliable in the latest gospel, John, Jesus calls himself God and sees himself as divine but these high-Christology statements are not in the synoptics therefore, Jesus really didn’t say these things why didn’t the synoptics record these claims to divinity the author of John changed the words of Jesus and John the Baptist?

    Question 3: Do the gospels accurately preserve the activities of Jesus Christ?

    Now Historians and writers such as Ehrman and E.P. Sanders agree with me that there are discrepancies in the gospels Ehrman and E.P. Sanders agrees with me that there are mistakes in the gospels, If Jesus’ followers changed his words a little, then we can’t know anything he said If the author changes the story a little, then the story was changed a lot If there not 100% accurate, then they’re not accurate at all contradiction of the ordering of Jesus’ temptations contradiction of the number of animals Jesus rode into Jerusalem contradiction of whether Jesus spoke or didn’t speak in some instance contradiction of what Jesus said on the cross contradiction of the number of robbers who speak to Jesus Jesus can only say ONE THING when he’s on the cross the gospel writers have to be in complete agreement.

    Question 4: Do the gospels contain eyewitness tradition?

    Darren there are loads of ignorant uninformed fundamentalist Christians out there, such as yourself, I like to study seriously, and I base my thoguhts on intense research, not peer pressure. Plus I’m a free thinker so I like to add in my own personal comments from time to time. I use my brain, and fundies don’t use your brains, the gospels don’t claim to be written by eyewitnesses the titles of the gospels were added later the gospels don’t claim to be written by the authors attributed to them the gospels were written anonymously the gospels only had names attached in 120-140 AD even if gospels were written by eyewitnesses, they are not always accurate written 40-60 years after Jesus died written in Greek, not Aramaic, written in different countries, based on stories that were told and retold and changed over time

    Question 5: Do archaeologists and historians use the gospels as sources?

    Archaeologists do not use the gospels, they just dig things up historians do use gospels Jesus is not mentioned by any Greek or Roman non-Christian source for 80 years after Jesus’ death. The earliest Jewish source is Josephus, writing 60 years after Jesus’ death. Paul is the earliest source, but says nothing about Jesus’ words and deeds, the earliest sources for words and deeds are the discrepancy-filled gospels, the gospels are based on telling and re-telling of the stories

    Question 6: Have the gospels been accurately preserved done through the centuries

    If God inspired the Bible without error, he should have preserved it without error but the originals have NOT been preserved without error so I no longer accept the inerrancy of the autographs (the originals) we don’t have the originals we only have copies of copies… of copies… of copies… of copies and the copiers all made mistakes the first manuscripts are decades later and the manuscripts we have are different from one another the earliest copies have the most mistakes even if we have many copies, they are late, so we don’t know what the original said we don’t have early manuscripts

    Question 7: Do scribal errors and textual variants significantly impact any teaching of Jesus or any important Christian teaching?

    The woman caught in adultery is a late addition, the ending of Mark is a late addition (and all biblical sholars and apologetics know this) can we handle snakes or can’t we? did Jesus sweat blood or didn’t he? some manuscripts have errors – that should not be allowed by God some scribes are careless – that should not be allowed by God we have to have perfect copies of the originals, or I won’t believe and neither should you, However you have faith, and you can rightly choose to believe what ever you want, heck I believe in father christmas! if God really inspired it, it all has to be perfect! Perfect! And it is not perfect, therefore your lying to me when you say it is. MAN is not perfect like you love to brag about, therefore The bible is not perfect as it was written by imperfect MAN!!!!

  10. The solution presented to this conundrum can be more easily be absorbed if you understand some of the world’s other spiritual traditions. Buddhism and Hinduism have teachings about having to be detached from the world (the worldly circumstances) if one is to ascend to nirvana/enlightenement/heaven. And what Jesus was ultimately teaching was the road to heaven; ascension. So, you couldn’t be his “disciple” if you were so attached to worldly relationships that you wouldn’t follow Jesus’ teachings to heaven. By this understanding, what needs to be severed/hated is the *attachment* to the outside – essentially the possessive love. A non-attached love for one’s relatives is fine… though most of us cannot differentiate between detachment and simply getting rid of something. Jesus taught in very refined concepts! The goal, we learn from Buddhism, is that if you are not attached to your circumstance, you will not suffer… and this lack of suffering allows the “single eye” to perceive the Kingdom of God – heaven on earth.

  11. Dan Lacich

    One difference between Jesus and Buddhism is that Jesus did not detach in order to avoid suffering. In fact he engaged in the world for the purpose of suffering on the cross on our behalf. He also call us to embrace the fellowship of His suffering by daily carrying our cross. There are huge differences in world view between Jesus and Buddha, not the least of which is how we arrive at salvation.
    Also, in regard to the particular issue of parents and Jesus, He is not calling for detachment from parents but for prioritizing our relationship with Him over all other relationships. The fact that he calls is to continue to love and honor our parents means that we stay engaged with them and their world, but Jesus comes first.

  12. byrnedownthehouseJon

    I found this post interesting and certainly provocative, and look forward to reading the rest of your blog. However I do have some counter points I’d like to make. Other posters have mentioned the many discrepancies, contradictions and general literary misadventures that go to make up the gospels (and the Bible as a whole). Even today there is much disagreement and many competing and irreconcilable translations and versions of this supposedly perfect document. But since this line of reasoning is evidently not convincing to you, I’m prepared to accept, for the sake of argument, that it’s possible to derive the inerrant will of Yahweh and/or Jesus from these competing texts.

    However, I think there are two main objections that can be raised to this passage and in particular to your interpretation of them on their own merits, regardless of the provenance of the source material.

    The first is to consider Jesus’ behaviour towards his own mother. Jesus encounters his mother on several occassions in the gospels treating her on every occassion with what could only be described – at best – as cold indifferance. “Woman what have I to do with thee?” (John 2:4) and “Who are my mother and my brothers” (Matthew 3:33) to cite two examples. Now, however you interpret these passages, it seems fairly obvious that Jesus, at the very least, is somewhat lacking in filial affection for his mother. In the context of the injunction to hate (or “love less” if you insist, although it seems like mere word play to me) ones mother it becomes decidedly unpleasant.

    The second objection is the sheer unreasonableness of the instruction. As with many of his commandments Jesus is literally asking the impossible here. I have on two occasions experienced what a Christian might describe as self-transcending love – in other words to value the well-being of another above my own, to the extent of being willing to die for them if necescary. Now this seems like a lot to me, and the power of the emotion is all consuming. And yet, Jesus expects his disciples to have this level of devotion to everyone they meet – for how else are we to interpret the instruction to “Love thy neighbour as thyself?”.

    But even this is not sufficient devotion when it comes to his personally, for we are here explicitly that we must love him more than any other person. The idea of a Rabbi or Priest, however wise, however charismatic demanding that I love him more than my parents is ludicrous enough. But asking a parent to love a preacher more than their own children is not only unreasonable but, I have to tell you, immoral. Consider how you would feel about the statement if the speaker was not Jesus. Even for a God, this is possessive jealousy bordering on madness. However, since we know that Yahweh, the alledged father of the pracher in question is, in his own words, “a jealous god”, we can at least say that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.

  13. Mario Bresciani

    You correctly point out that the Greek word “miseo” was incorrectly translated into the word “hate” which in your experience caused thousands of families to break up.

    In fact, it is impossible to know how many of these types of dangerous errors are contained within in the passages without the possession of the original documents.

    This is a very sobering and illuminating article which clearly shows just case for us all not to use the Bible as the corner stone of one’s beliefs.

  14. Dan Lacich

    Thank you for your comments. I do need to disagree with it a bit. You say that it is impossible to know how many dangerous errors there are in the scriptures without having the originals. The mistranslation of miseo has nothing to do with having or not having the originals. It is all about understanding the use of language in context. The Bible has been so extensively studied that we are able to point out the rare cases like miseo with relative ease.

    Let me suggest a couple of resources.
    First written by one of the most respected Biblical Scholars of the past few hundred years. Read The New Testament Documents; Are They Reliable by F. F. Bruce

    Second I suggest The Historical Reliability of the Gospels by Blomberg

    There is tons of other well respected research that upholds the reliability of what we have in Scripture. Even liberal theologians like John A.T. Robinson have written on the trustworthy nature of the Scripture, especially the New Testament.

    As to your last point of not being able to use the Bible as the cornerstone of one’s beliefs, two thoughts. First, I would argue that being able to correct the misunderstanding of things like the meaning of miseo makes it even more reasonable to rest one’s beliefs on the scriptures because we have a better understanding of them all the time. The problem is not with the Bible but with us and our knowledge and through processes. If we rest our faith on the Bible or something eles, the problem is still us and our limited and faulty capacity. Second, if not the Bible, then what do you have as a cornerstone for your beliefs?

  15. Randall

    The word hate is used by the LORD and Jesus and in each case apologists say the word hate means something else. It was evident that the LORD did hate Esau by his actions. It was evident that Jesus did hate his mother by what he says to her. In either case, it’s obvious that it didn’t mean a little less or prefrence or any number of other excuses that people want to make for the bible.

  16. Dan Lacich

    Randall, I don’t know what you are referring to when you say it was obvious that Jesus hated his mother by what he said to her. Any references I see that show interaction between Jesus and his mother would require a huge stretch to say it is obvious that he hated her. Can you give me a reference? Also, as I said in the post the word miseo can mean either hate in our terms or love less. The usage in the Greek always depends on the context. The context of God hating Esau could require the traditional meaning of hate and I have no problem with that, just as parts of the Bible make it clear that God hates sin or hates divorce. But again, context dictates what aspect of a definition one uses. It’s like saying you love hamburgers and you love your wife. Certainly you don’t mean exactly the same thing by the term. Context defines the meaning. To properly interpret something in the Bible is not to make excuses for it but to understand and apply it accurately.

  17. Alice

    Honestly he said hate them, and he meant hate them. If you don’t feel like hating them, that’s on you. Maybe it was just his way of reminding you that in his eyes you are not worthy.

  18. Dan Lacich

    If Jesus really meant to hate your family in the way you seem to be using it, then what do you do with His command to love your neighbor, even your enemy? Is Jesus saying hate your family but love those who are not? When you say He really means hate, according to our English language understanding of hatred, what does that look like in real life? In other words, how do you hate your family? Do they know you hate them? How do you treat them in day to day life?

  19. HonestMechanic

    listen people, throughout the entire old testament he speaks of the servant whom he will put his spirit on, put his word in his mouth & only listen to him…do we disregard then everything he said through the prophets? They are the same words, same spirit, but even more refined when he brought his ministry to earth…the refiners fire.
    Thats the door he left open, should he just come out and tell everything like a fool would? should he make a boast and say “yeah, im the high and lofty one who inhabeteth eternity alone, whose name is holy”
    His words were perfect, thats why he was the single most important and influencial & by far the most controversial man who ever lived… some hear those words with gladness & know that “Yah visited his people” & the rest will fight those words because they wanted a slice of the vineyard…
    which are you?

    Anybody who says that we can’t believe the bible has a liars doctrine, the devils doctrine. He spoke the word from the very beginning & he created the good (himself) & the evil (satan).
    If he wrote the story before any man existed, would he have wrote a story where 100s of billions of men & women are left desolate without his words to rely on crumbs from a decievers table to get a glimpse of his word?
    Repent if you ever believed he’d leave you alone in a world of decievers without his words.
    Likewise have you ever known 1 man since the world began that had wisdom as this man? There isn’t, the true riches are his always will be.

    That being said he left many tests (PAUL!!!!) in his word, those that truly love him will seek deep to understand his word & he will give that man life who would crawl to the ends of the FLAT earth to understand.

    anything that offends or doesn’t love him will be cast into OUTER darkness, there will be lots of weeping and gnashing of teeth when he puts his word into our hearts at the judgement & see the TRUTH from HIS perspective as described in the wisdom of Solomon chapter 2.

    I know i weep and gnash my teeth now just thinking about eternal desolation & never hearing his words again 😞

    Do you love your folks, your wife enough to save them and bring another into the fold?
    Or do you fear sharing his word & continue your vain conversations with unbelievers about temporal, “tangible” things?
    Hate deception & love everyone, including your enemy, share the words with him too

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