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Blog - Why Christians Should Hate Their Parents
Now that I have your attention..... Oftentimes when explaining the doctrine of election to someone, Romans 9:11-13 will be used as a proof text to show that God chooses some people as the objects of His love and mercy ("Jacob have I loved" - Rom 9:13), but leaves others in their sins which they inherited from Adam (Rom 5:12), and they therefore remain the objects of God's judgment and hatred ("Esau have I hated" - Rom 9:13). A common objection to Romans 9:13 is that hate doesn't really mean hate, but rather just a lesser degree of love...in other words, what God really meant to say was "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I loved less". And if the person knows one of the fundamental rules of Bible study which is "comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1Co 2:13), he will go to Luke 14:26 where Jesus said, "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.", and he will contend that this verse shows that to hate really means to love less, and Jesus was not saying to hate our families, but rather to simply love them less than Him, which is obvious from the context. But is it? Before we adopt a method of Bible interpretation that maintains that things least do mean what they most do say, we better employ another one of the Bible's rules of Bible interpretation which is to define the terms in their primary meanings (Neh 8:8). Hate - v. 1. trans. To hold in very strong dislike; to detest; to bear malice to. The opposite of to love. Well....hmmm....our Arminian friend saith to hate means to love less, but the Oxford English Dictionary saith to hate is THE OPPOSITE of to love. Now we have a choice: are we going to redefine words so that they fit our preconceived ideas about God's sovereignty and then interpret other passages with our new definition, or are we going to take the scripture for what is says and use words in their primary meanings according to the dictionary and interpret the scripture accordingly and "let God be true, but every man a liar" (Rom 3:4)? Maybe hate actually means hate....maybe God actually hated Esau...maybe Esau was hated like the rest of mankind apart from grace (Psa 5:5)....maybe we are supposed to hate our parents, wives, children, brethren, and yes, even ourselves. However it is that we are supposed to hate our families must be reconciled with other scripture, though, which tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves, which obviously includes our parents (Mat 19:19), love our children (Tit 2:4), love our spouses (Eph 5:25; Tit 2:4), and love our brethren (1Pe 1:22). So how are we supposed to hate our parents and family? Since the dictionary told us that to hate is the opposite of to love, we need to see what the Bible says love is. Let's take a look at the following verses and see if we see a common theme: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (Joh 14:15) "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me..." (Joh 14:21) "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments..." (1Jo 5:3) "And this is love, that we walk after his commandments..." (2Jo 1:6) So we see that according to the Bible, love is keeping commandments, but conversely Jesus said, "He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings..." (Joh 14:24), which shows that to not keep commandments is to not love, or in other words, to hate, by definition. So how is it that we as Christians should hate our parents and our families? When our parents, husbands, wives, children, brothers or sisters demand things of us that are contrary to God's commandments, either requiring us to do something that God has forbidden, or to not do something that God has required, we must disobey them and not keep their commandments in order to keep God's, which is to not love them and hate them by definition. The Bible is very clear on this: "...We ought to obey God rather than men." (Act 5:29) Those are Jesus' terms for discipleship. Now this doesn't mean that we are supposed to hate them utterly or entirely, but we must hate that particular part of them that is contrary to Jesus Christ and His word, just like we must hate that same part of ourselves. We are to "...hate every false way" (Psa 119:128) and "...hate evil..." (Psa 97:10; Pro 8:13), even if it is coming from the ones we love most. A good example of this was King Asa who "...did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD..." (1Ki 15:11) and would not even show partiality to his own mother, Maachah, whom "...he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron" (1Ki 15:13). I hope you can see how using the Bible's rules for Bible interpretation, such as defining the terms and comparing spiritual things with spiritual, provides a reasonable and consistent explanation for a difficult passage and does no violence to the text by assigning a meaning to a word that reverses the normal ordinary meaning and thereby completely changes both the Biblical teaching on the terms of discipleship and also the doctrine of God's sovereign grace.