Problem: My family values are simple: hate your family. And I don’t mean just compared to your love for me. Hate them. Create huge, nasty arguments with them and then have them killed. (Luke 14:26; Matt. 10:21, 34).
Response: Let’s look at what those passages you referenced actually say and mean in context:
Luke 14:25-27 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: "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. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Despite what you think, this was a statement of hyperbole. It was to show how great our love of God is to be, in contrast to the most loving relationships a person could think of. God is to have first place in our hearts (see Dt. 6:5). In the parable immediately preceding this verse Jesus was showing how indifferent people were to God, putting everything else before love and duty to God. His point was that our priorities are messed up. Only when we love God first and foremost, can we truly show love for others. In the parables following this statement, He talks about counting the cost of discipleship. Knowing before you make the choice, what it will mean to finish what you begin.
‘Hateth not,’ ou(NT:3756) misei (NT:3404). An old and very strong verb miseoo (NT:3404), to hate, detest. The Orientals use strong language where cooler spirits would speak of preference or indifference. But even so Jesus does not here mean that one must hate his father or mother of necessity or as such, for Matt. 15:4 proves the opposite. It is only where the element of choice comes in (cf. Matt 6:24) as it sometimes does, when father or mother opposes Christ. Then one must not hesitate. The language here is more sharply put than in Matt. 10:37. The ou (NT:3756) here coalesces with the verb misei (NT:3404) in this conditional clause of the first class determined as fulfilled. It is the language of exaggerated contrast, it is true, but it must not be watered down until the point is gone. In mentioning "and wife" Jesus has really made a comment on the excuse given in Luke 14:20 ("I married a wife and so I am not able to come").
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft & Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright (c) 1985 by Broadman Press)
Matt 10:21-22 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Matt 10:34-39 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn "'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law- a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' “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; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
The context of the Matthew 10 verses is the persecution of Christians, up to and including betrayal of the Christians by their own family members. It is not the Christians who are betraying their family members to be killed; it is the Christians who are being betrayed to death. It is a warning that if one chooses to follow Christ one must be prepared to face death and know that if one’s family members do not accept the gospel they may be the very one’s who hand them over to be killed. This was true for Christians in the 1st century and it is still true in many countries around the world. In some Muslim countries, it is considered the duty of family members to not only turn in those who turn from Islam to Christianity, but to personally execute those who do so.
In fact, contrary to this philosophy of hate, Jesus tells His followers to love and pray for those who persecute us.
Matt 5:43-45 “You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Luke 6:27-31 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Problem: I don’t know what nonsense you’ve heard about me coming in “peace,” but it is a lie. I have not come to send peace, but a sword. (Matt. 10:34)
Response: Again let’s look at the context.
Matt 10:34-36 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn "'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law- 36 a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'
Isa. 9:6 had given the Messiah the title of “Prince of Peace.” The people were looking for the Messiah to fight their battles, defeat their enemies and usher in an era of peace such as they hadn’t known since the days of David and Solomon. This is a very real hope, one we still look forward to at the 2nd Coming, but at the time of His 1st Coming He came to die for us and rise again. In doing so He fulfilled over 100 prophecies which is what gives us a reasonable hope He will fulfill the rest. He also provided forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:20-22) which allows us to have peace with God (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:14-18) and inner peace (Rom. 8:6; 2 Thess. 3:16)—a “peace that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7).
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
However, when He said, “not peace but a sword”—He meant this is a divisive issue (see the parallel passage in Lk. 12:51-53). Choosing to follow Christ will bring division among friends and family as some will choose to follow Him and some won’t. Those who follow will know the pain of alienation from their families and possibly even betrayal to executioners by their own family members.
"Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." (Lk. 12:51-53)
This is about counting the cost of discipleship--understanding that some friends and family will not choose to follow Jesus. Believers need to know that there will be divisions to the point of enmity among friends and family if they follow Jesus. Christians need to love Jesus more, but need to be prepared for the consequences to their relationships.
Problem: If you leave a terse note on the fridge and abandon your wife, children and parents you will be richly rewarded and go to Heaven. (Matt. 19:29)
Response: Matt. 19:29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”
There is nothing here about leaving a terse note and abandoning one’s family. This goes back to counting the cost of discipleship. Jesus had just explained that it is as hard for a rich man to enter Heaven as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle (Matt. 19:23-34). Peter then mentioned that he and the other disciples had left everything to follow Jesus (see Luke 5:8-11) and was wondering what would be left for them (Matt. 19:27). When James and John were called to follow Jesus and left their father’s fishing business and followed Jesus (Matt. 4:21-22; Mark 1:19-20), it was not without the knowledge and support of their family since Zebedee was in the boat when Jesus called them. Their mother, Salome, is mentioned several times in the gospel accounts (Matt. 20:20; 27:55-56; Mark 15:40; 16:1; John 19:25). Jesus’ own family, his mother and brothers (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3) were initially wary of his ministry efforts (Mark 3:21, 31), but later on they also became His followers (Acts 1:14). Both James and Jude, Jesus’ brothers, became leaders in the early church and wrote the books of the Bible named after them. Paul mentions that the other apostles including the Lord’s brother (James) and Cephas (a.k.a. Peter) brought their wives along when they went on missionary trips (1 Cor. 9:5).
If one’s family does not join you in following Christ and is not willing to stay with you as you follow Him, then you are still to love Him more and go on and follow Him, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t fully explain things to them, give them the opportunity to stay with you and learn about Christ. Just because one becomes a Christian does not mean one has to abandon one’s family. In fact in other places in Scripture we are told that as much it depends on us we are to live at peace with all men (Rom 12:18). Plus married people who become Christians when their spouse and children have not, are told not to seek divorce but to live godly lives before their loved ones (1 Cor. 7:10-16) with the hope that they too will be saved. If the non-believing spouse chooses to leave the Christian is to let them go, but they are not to try to make them go nor are they to be the one’s who leave.
Problem: An unruly child must be stoned to death. (Deut. 21:18-21; Mark 7:10; Ex. 21:15, 17)
Response: As always, we will start with what the Scriptures actually say.
Deut. 21:18-21 If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." 21 Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.
Ex. 21:15 Anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death.
Ex. 21:17 Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.
Mark 7:10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.'
Well for starters, for a son to be a drunkard and a profligate (“wild, dissolute, extravagant to the point of ruin,” according to Webster’s dictionary) he’d have to be old enough to know better. We are not talking about little children who have momentary rebellious streaks (terrible twos or temper tantrums), this is a person whose whole lifestyle has become corrupt—think gutter-crawling, commode-hugging junkie. Think someone who is so far gone they will do anything for their next drink or next drug fix. This kind of element must be removed from society even today. Back then they did not have prisons or rehab clinics; if a person became so bad he could not live in society they exercised the death penalty. This was meant to be a deterrent to such anti-social behavior (Deut. 21:21).
In addition to this, let’s not forget the Parable of the Prodigal Son—by Old Testament Law that son should have been stoned—yet Jesus showed God’s compassion and acceptance of the repentant son (Luke 15:11-32). When it boils right down to it every single one of us has done at least one thing, and realistically, many more, for which we deserve the death penalty, but God in His love and mercy has provided a way back to Himself if we merely accept His offer of forgiveness through Jesus and repent (make a 180° turn away from our wicked ways). Frequently He spent time with the “tax collectors and sinners” and whenever any of them turned to Him, He said, “your faith has saved you, now go sin no more” (Luke 7:47-50; John 5:14; 8:11).
As to your 2nd reference, are you going to argue that someone who attempts to murder anyone, especially his parents, did not also deserve the death penalty? As for the 3rd reference, we aren’t talking about just using foul language in front of or to your parents, we are talking curse—as in cursing someone to Hell or as in the curse on the household of David after his sin with Bathsheba—think witches’ curses—these were powerful things that people expected to come true, just as much as a parent’s blessing on a child was expected to come true [remember the story of Jacob and Esau and how distraught Esau was about losing his father’s blessing (Gen. 27:19-41)]; and when Balaam was hired to curse the people of Israel (Num. 22-24). Cursing someone was considered as bad as trying to outright murder them.
As for the New Testament passage—it was a quote of the Old Testament passage explained above. Plus you are taking it out of context—Jesus was using it to demonstrate that children were expected to take care of their parents, but they were so greedy that they would not provide for their physical care. Thus they were not honoring their parents, but were leaving them destitute (essentially cursing them to poverty and faster death)—and to top it off they were using God as an excuse. Jesus was pointing out that what they thought was an acceptable practice was as heinous as cursing your parents.
Problem: God punished children that make fun of unattractive people by sending bears to maul them to death. (2 Ki. 2:23-24)
Response: Let’s examine this passage a little more closely.
2 Kings 2:23-24 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. “Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. “Go on up, you baldhead!" 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.
The “youths” in question would be adolescents (teenagers), keep in mind that at the age of 12 Jewish males go through the bar mitzvah after which they are considered adults and have adult responsibility and are held to adult standards of conduct. [Think of our current practice of trying teenagers who commit especially heinous crimes as adults.] Please note this wasn’t just innocent teasing. These teenagers were showing great disrespect for God’s prophet, Elisha, and by extension great disrespect for God. Also note, how many of them there were—more than 42. It’d be like being confronted by a street gang and being afraid for your life. I also want to point out that it does not say that the bears killed the youths, only that they were mauled. I’m sure the survivors never forgot the lesson they learned or judged another by mere appearances again when they had to live with the scars from their experience. When you consider all that is there in those 2 verses and realize you weren’t there to know the rest, was the method God used to protect His prophet really too harsh?
Problem: Not only will a single mother having a boy out of wedlock be punished, but also the child and his descendants will burn in Hell. (Deut. 23:2)
Response: Deut 23:2 No one born of a forbidden marriage nor any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, even down to the tenth generation.
This says absolutely nothing about the mother being punished for an out of wedlock child, nor even that the child or his descendants will go to hell. It is not even dealing with out of wedlock children. It is dealing with forbidden marriages. Note: The KJV does use the word “bastard,” but every commentary I checked agreed with the NIV translation, the word used meant from a forbidden union such as incest (see Lev. 18) or marriage with foreigners such as the Ammonites or the Moabites who were pagan and had openly opposed the Israelites when they came into the Promised Land (see Deut. 23:3-6).
The Israelites were to be a holy people, pure and set apart to God. They were not to allow wicked practices among them, and were thus forbidden to intermarry with the peoples around them lest they be enticed to follow after idols and pagan practices rather than God (Deut. 7:1-6). In this case, those who engaged in these practices, were cut off from the assembly, or exiled from the community of Israel. Some believe that those who had married foreigners (outside the Jewish faith) weren’t exiled from the land of Israel, but were not allowed into the tabernacle or Temple areas (i.e. were ex communicated), because provision was made in the law for foreigners to become proselytes to Judaism and thus participate in the community (see Ex. 12:48-49; Num. 15:14-16; Lev. 19:33-34; 2 Chr. 6:32-33). The most obvious example of a foreigner becoming a proselyte and joining the community of Israelis Ruth, a Moabite. She became the great grandmother of King David (only 3 generations later) and an ancestor of Jesus, the Messiah.
God proved He does not hold incest, illegitimacy, foreign birth, harlotry, or adultery against the descendants of those who turn to Him in faith: 4 infamous women are included in the genealogy of Christ in Matt. 1: v. 3 Tamar, daughter-in-law of Judah, their incestuous relationship produced Perez (see Gen. 38); v. 5 Rahab the Canaanite prostitute who aided the spies (see Josh. 2; Heb. 11:31; Jas. 2:25); v. 5 Ruth the Moabite (see book of Ruth); and v. 6 Uriah the Hittite’s wife, Bathsheba, who committed adultery with David (2 Sam. 11:12-15).
Problem: Jews live up to every bigot’s stereotype. They are unruly, vain talkers, deceivers and motivated only by money. Why don’t they just shut up? They are extremely annoying to God. (1 Thess. 2:15; Titus 1:10-11)
Response: When you look at the passages referenced, you will note that they are not discussing Jews, but Gentiles who are persecuting and teaching incorrect things about the Church in their attempts to silence the preaching of the Gospel. It is not anti-Semitic.
1 Thess. 2:14-16 For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.
Titus 1:5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.
Titus 1:10-16 For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach-and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 Even one of their own prophets has said, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons." 13 This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
As you can see, the context of these verses is not racial slander of Jews but how Gentile churches were to handle their own countrymen (Gentiles, not Jews) in Thessalonica and in Crete who opposed the gospel message in those areas in the same manner that the Jews had done in Judea. The statement about the Cretans (again not Jews) in Titus 1:12 was a quote from one of their (Cretans) own prophets. These passages are instructions to the Church leaders on how to deal with such opposition to the preaching of the gospel. This is not anti-Semitism since it is not primarily about Jews. It’s just stating the case about the misunderstanding Christians have to deal with from ignorant men who refuse to hear the truth themselves and don’t want it proclaimed to anyone else either. And look what they are told to do—“rebuke them” that’s it—just point out their errors and teach them what’s right, “so they will be sound in the faith” (Tit. 1:13).
In fact, when you get right down to it, true Christianity should be the furthest thing from anti-Semitism that you can get. First, Jesus was a Jew, at least as far as His human ancestry is concerned. Second, Christianity believes that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Jewish prophecies of the Messiah. Third, Jesus is the Savior of the entire world, starting with the Jews (Rom. 1:16). Additionally, Paul, the writer of both the letters to the Thessalonians and to Titus stated, “For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” (Rom. 9:3-5) Paul, obviously cannot be considered an anti-Semite if he is himself a Jew and would willingly suffer damnation just so the Jews could be saved.
Paul is also the one who wrote, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal 3:26-29)