AS CHRISTIANS, SHOULD WE HATE OUR PARENTS? DID THE LORD ADVOCATE PHYSICAL VIOLENCE?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Matthew 10:34-39 can be (and has been) greatly misconstrued. It therefore behooves us to reserve a study to make it as plain as possible.
To begin, we should point out that it is seldom realized that Matthew chapter 10 is the first installment of the Great Commission. The Lord Jesus Christ is issuing instructions to His 12 Apostles, as well as to all the Little Flock (instructions to bring them all the way to His Second Coming—see verse 23).
Here are some of Christ’s concluding remarks in Matthew chapter 10: “ Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.  He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
Jesus Christ is surely not advocating physical violence when He says, “I am not come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Read the text above once more. There is an invisible, spiritual battle manifesting itself in an outward form. It is not believers in Christ waging war on unbelievers; it is unbelievers attacking believers in Christ. The man who trusts Christ as Saviour has automatically sided against Satan, thus causing a rift between the man and his family. When you look at the Bible record, it is not believers in Christ targeting unsaved people with violence. It is lost people slandering, beating, imprisoning, and executing Christ’s followers. (Be quite careful to note Matthew 5:38-48 and Romans 12:17-21!)(And, perhaps, read Genesis chapter 4 to see who killed whom!)
Matthew 10:37 again: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” The issue here is priorities. If we have to choose between pleasing people and following the God of the Bible, we should be willing to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). We do not hate our parents or our children when we come to faith in Christ. Rather, we prefer to obey the God of creation than fear the possible hostile reaction of loved ones who are not Christians. We should be honored to partake in Christ’s rejection. (See 1 John 3:11-13, John 15:18-25, and John 16:1-3.)
Dear friends, whose do we seek—God’s praise, or man’s praise? “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We should endeavor to please God, not men. Yet, since it is a tough predicament, most people wind up compromising to some degree. Some Christians are willing to give up sound Bible doctrine so as to “keep peace in the family.” They do not want to offend friends with the Scriptures. They stay quiet about the Bible. They refuse to witness to anyone. They prefer not to get involved with Bible distribution, Gospel preaching, and so on.
Turn to John chapter 12: “ Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:  For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Flip over to chapter 9: “ But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.  These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.”
Whom do we serve—God or men? Galatians 1:10 says, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” The Apostle Paul had already determined that he had served man long enough in Judaism. Now, a saved individual, he would not waste any more time with man-pleasing. He had become a servant of Christ Jesus!
If our parents (or any other relatives, or any friends) forbid us from trusting Christ, praying, going to church, reading the Bible, sharing the Gospel, and so on, then the choice is clear to “obey God rather than men.” There are those who say that they would rather die with their parents’ or grandparents’ religion, than believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved from sins and denominational error. If that is what they want to do, they may have at it. We will not discourage them from walking down the path they have decided. The time to convince them has come and gone. God values free will, and we will not deny them their right.
We should never make decisions simply to “stick out” or “be different.” We are not trying to draw attention to ourselves. We simply believe and obey God’s Word, and let it offend whomever it offends. Nevertheless, we should not be obnoxious, contentious, or haughty about it. We should be meek and gentle, but resolute in holding to the truth (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
One more verse. Turn to Luke 16:15: “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” One reason why people do not want to trust Christ as their personal Saviour is because they fear offending or “disrespecting” family members. Abandoning their relatives’ religion is unthinkable, far too costly. If they do manage to break away and become a member of the Body of Christ, they run the risk of being disowned, shunned, and considered a traitor. We are willing to have our parents (or children, or other loved ones) hate us for trusting Jesus Christ and following Him. In God’s eyes, we thus love Him more than we love them. We show that our loyalty is to Him, and not to them or any fallible creature.