Do You Hate Your Family?

I know.  I’m asking some tough questions.  Are you still with me?

Jesus says in Luke 14:26: ‎”If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”

Do you hate your family?  If not, why not?  Jesus gave a pretty direct commandment.

What do you think he meant by this?  Seems a little harsh, no?

[Post image: Lord’s supper by clesio on stock.xchng]


  1. Don Rogers
    Sep 27, 2011

    Seems that this hinges on whether we believe this is an accurate representation of something actually voiced by Jesus. Perhaps the translation has suffered or we have missed the metaphor.

    • Elissa
      Sep 27, 2011

      So, the next question is: if we don’t think Jesus said it, how do we go about deciphering what things Jesus DID say, and which things we’re “supposed” to follow? Doesn’t that bring all his words under suspicion? “Hate” is a pretty strong word to be throwing around…

  2. Don Rogers
    Sep 27, 2011

    I don’t know the answer. I keep digging for some satisfactory answer. I do feel (at present) that we may actually have his basic paradigm; is unbounded love & compassion. After that, it’s a crap shoot. Where I draw the line between his ideas & those of his followers…is a difficult thing to do. I am beginning to see him as an apocalyptic prophet who loved all people and displayed compassion at all times.

    • Elissa
      Sep 27, 2011

      OK, I can’t resist, because you’ve stated what I agree with…that we don’t know. But here’s another toughie: if we take him as true and good, and discard all the bad verses (such as these), aren’t we making him into whom we want him to be? I agree with the apocalyptic prophet part (for those of you reading along, start with Ehrman’s Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet), but then if I do that, then I have to assume he’s human (and is not always kind and good), like all of us. Just wondering what you think…

      • Don Rogers
        Sep 28, 2011

        Yes, we are making him into whom we want him to be. Do you feel that you are drawn to the truth? I believe that if we seek truth, honestly, as a genuine pursuit, we are drawn to truth. Otherwise, I think I would have dropped the entire Christian idea; deciding there was nothing there left for me. There is something that continuously draws me to Jesus. I cannot pin it down, but I definitely feel it. I have tried to be honest about religion and have cast the majority of it aside. However, I cannot cast spirit aside. Jesus’ life, as much as we can gather of it, still draws me in. I don’t know much at all about God. I don’t think any of us do. If we claim to, we are only fooling ourselves. But there is a mysterious force at work of which, I believe, we are a definite part. I feel it, I experience it frequently. I cannot explain it. Jesus was a man like us, a human being, who I believe was “tuned in” to that spirit more so than most. There have been others like him, but he resonates with me more than they only because of my past experience.
        As far as the “not always kind and good” part, that is part and parcel of being human. I would have it no other way. I can identify with one who has a “bad” day, one who hurts, one who has feelings. I am about five or six years on this journey. I expect I know more than I did when I started, but have so, so much more to experience. I will experience each day with mind and eyes wide open. I have already learned more in the last five or six years than the previous sixty years!

        • Elissa
          Sep 28, 2011

          Thanks, Don. You’re so sweet to write back.

          Yes, I’m drawn to truth, too. I feel something, as you do, but I’m not sure what it is for me. I’m wary to simply follow my heart when I know I’ve been trained to think a certain way. Indoctrinated, you might say. [And I know you know this as well as I do, that this really is what it is, because IF YOU DARE think other than this, people start praying for you.]

          So, I’m a little cautious to find meaning where there might be none. That’s my journey, though, and I know that if I’m true to truth, I’ll find it…somewhere, somehow.

          We agree on Jesus being human. I, too, find more comfort in knowing he was human…than him being divine. [Although I may have been too hasty on this one, because you may believe in his divinity, too, and that’s quite all right.]

          There are a great many other “truths” out there that I find it hard to ignore. There are parts of Buddhism that resonate with me. There are other “heros” out there who lived contemplative and true lives. I don’t want to leave them out…and assume they have nothing to tell me.

          In other words, I cannot erase the fact that Jesus is not whom I was taught about. He said some pretty mean and spiteful and horrid things (in my humble interpretation). If we get rid of his crazy statements, then I think we’re manipulating him into something he isn’t. So, you either get Jesus the human (like one of your friends…so why worship him?), or you get Jesus the god who can do anything he wants and demands your affection and love (and I’m not sure that’s comforting, either).

          At least that’s where I am today.

          You and I will continue with our eyes and minds wide open, k? You’re like me in that most of this learning has occurred within the past 5-6 years. We’ll do this together, no?

          Thanks again, Don, for continuing the conversation!

  3. Redlefty
    Sep 28, 2011

    Jesus also spoke in other places about honoring our fathers and mothers. So you can think he’s conflicted, crazy, misquoted… the options are endless! 🙂

    But there are a few texts in the book of Micah that are messianic prophecies, claiming that family members will be against each other when the kingdom comes. Jesus may be alluding to that passage and claiming that the kingdom has arrived.

    Of course, that could also be seen as a massive and desperate stretch to reconcile things that shouldn’t be reconciled.

    Meh, I’m much better at asking questions than providing answers!

    • Elissa
      Sep 29, 2011

      No, I think you’re onto something. Have you read Ehrman’s Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet? You should, if you haven’t. It’s along the same lines as what you’re suggesting. Jesus DID believe the end of time was near, even saying to those standing around him that many WOULD NOT DIE before they’d see the kingdom of heaven. When he was wrong, and the end didn’t occur, it was quite confusing for those he left behind, so they had to make some sense of it.

      In essence, if you read the gospels again (in this light), everything makes sense. At least more sense than the way we’ve always thought of it. He didn’t care about the long term. He cared about the days near the end, which he thought were occurring THEN.

      I about fell off my chair when I first realized this! 🙂

      Thanks, Redlefty!

      • Redlefty
        Sep 29, 2011

        Ah, but I believe the kingdom did come at that time. My feeling is that was Jesus’ mission — to bring the kingdom of heaven here, so that person-by-person we could start experiencing it in this life. No more waiting until the afterlife (although Jews didn’t believe in the afterlife like Christians do), no more hoping that a priest, a rabbi or even Jesus himself would sit as an intermediary between an imperfect human and an angry God.

        I don’t think Jesus was proclaiming that one day the kingdom of heaven would come, the world would end, and all life on earth would stop.

        I think Jesus proclaimed the kingdom had already arrived, and life on earth should change to reflect that.

        And no, unfortunately I haven’t read any of Ehrman’s works, although I should. Too busy pre-reading young adult fiction so I can approve it for my speed-reading kids!

        • Elissa
          Sep 30, 2011

          So I must confess. I was referring to what most Christians believe did not happen (the kingdom of God). They’re still expecting the end of the world, and for Jesus to come set up his kingdom. I would like to read it like you; it makes more sense (after all, then we have a mission, here and now). Then we would have a part in creating the new heaven here on earth.

          I would go further then and ask, “What did Jesus mean when he said the kingdom of God was within us?” Wouldn’t that include other spiritual quests of us before God (whatever “God” means)?” I making that question vague on purpose, because I’m really interested in what you think.

          Ooh, I’m looking forward to those days of reading ahead of my daughter. I have a bookshelf full of middle-grade and YA novels, just waiting for her (and me)! Have you read The Hunger Games trilogy? Or one that’s so perfect is When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. Not sure what genre your kids favor…

          • Redlefty
            Oct 01, 2011

            Oh yes, I read Hunger Games last year! My daughter’s only eight and I don’t think she’s quite ready for it yet. It’s obviously very intense at times, and I think she’ll struggle with the ending. It will spark some beautiful discussions in a few years, though!

            Right now I’m reading Gregor the Overlander. It’s a good fantasy yarn after my kids loved the Narnia series earlier in the year (I read all seven book aloud over seven months).

            I think both the kingdom of God and the kingdom of hell are within us, although I believe only the former is eternal. I’ve never considered our internal kingdom to include “spiritual quests” before — very interesting! Your phrase is a good pattern-buster for me… will have to think on it further.

            • Elissa
              Oct 01, 2011

              Oh, I’ve not read Gregor the Overlander. I’ll have to look it up. I read so much fantasy growing up, and then wandered away from it over the years (with the exception of the fab Harry Potter).

              Yes, I agree about good and evil residing in all of us. I addressed that very question in my podcast Are People Inherently Good or Bad? saying that I think the question is not so black-and-white for that very reason…

              I’ve just wondered how that limits us to the standard vision of what or who God is. IF we believe the kingdom of God is IN us, and we believe in mystery and truth and the unknowable, and we realize that the religious conventions have to be stripped away (after all, they’re man-made), then every man and woman’s journey would be different, no? Just like my relationship with you might be different from a friend’s relationship with you or your family’s relationship with you. We all know you differently. Granted, I don’t know you well, but you get my point. It’s very individual. And then God could mean a vast number of things to each person, which is entirely the point…very exciting and liberating and outside-the-box (we’ve created).

              Needless to say, I don’t expect you to continue this conversation. You DO have a life, but I SO value your viewpoint on this, because I think you’ve mentioned some really excellent points. 🙂

  4. Matt
    Sep 29, 2011

    The bible is taken out of context so much it’s frightening.

    Gill’s interpretation sums this up nicely:

    any man come to me,…. Not in a corporeal, but in a spiritual way; nor barely to hear him preach; but so come, as that he believes in him, applies to him for grace, pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation; professes to be his, submits to his ordinances, and desires to be a disciple of his;

    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: not that proper hatred of any, or all of these, is enjoined by Christ; for this would be contrary to the laws of God, to the first principles of nature, to all humanity, to the light of nature, to reason and divine revelation: but that these are not to be preferred to Christ, or loved more than he, as it is explained 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;) yea, these are to be neglected and forsaken, and turned from with indignation and resentment, when they stand in the way of the honour and interest of Christ, and dissuade from his service: such who would be accounted the disciples of Christ, should be ready to part with their dearest relations and friends, with the greatest enjoyment of life, and with life itself, when Christ calls for it; or otherwise they are not worthy to be called his disciples.

    so….Jesus isn’t saying to hate your family.

    • Elissa
      Sep 29, 2011

      Thanks for that quote, Matt, on interpreting this verse. But the fact of the matter is this is one person’s interpretation of what Jesus means. I think Jesus is pretty clear in that verse, and it’s surprising that he didn’t clarify what he meant, if it indeed meant, as Gil says (and here I’m cutting-and-pasting from your quote…cap emphasis mine): “…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: NOT THAT PROPER HATRED OF ANY, OR ALL OF THESE, IS ENJOINED BY CHRIST; for this would be contrary to the laws of God, to the first principles of nature, to all humanity, to the light of nature, to reason and divine revelation…”

      Thing is, Gil just contradicted Scripture in those capped sections. He’s saying, in essence, it CAN’T be so, that Jesus would say these words because it would be “contrary to the laws of God.”

      Exactly my point.

      So, either Jesus said them and is contradicting himself (demonstrating he’s human and not perfect), or Jesus never said those words. OR (I’m sure we could come up with other conclusions)…

  5. Matt
    Sep 29, 2011

    Sorry, still don’t see the contradiction that you seem to plainly see

    • Elissa
      Sep 29, 2011

      I was comparing the direct quote of Jesus which states ‎”If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” and Gil’s quote (that you quoted) where he says the exact opposite: “NOT THAT PROPER HATRED OF ANY, OR ALL OF THESE, IS ENJOINED BY CHRIST; for this would be contrary to the laws of God, to the first principles of nature, to all humanity, to the light of nature, to reason and divine revelation…”

      Gil is wrong. It WAS enjoined by Christ. Read the verse again.

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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