Correcting a common misunderstanding

April 8, 2015 | Feature | Volume 19 Issue 8
Anita Fast,

Matthew 10:37 reads, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

These verses have justified the rejection of countless sons and daughters who don’t conform to their parents’ understanding of what it means to love Jesus. If I really love Jesus, the thinking goes, then I must disown my child. Perhaps she’s joined the military. Perhaps he’s come out as gay. Perhaps she’s married a Buddhist.

Loving Jesus has had the tragic result of tearing apart the love within families. Is this the sword of God’s Word that Jesus is saying he came for?

Hardly. To say that we are to love Jesus more than our fathers and mothers, or our sons and our daughters, is not, in any way, to say that we are not to love them. Of course we are, with all of our being.

Cross-reference these New Testament scriptures:

  • “A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).
  • “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar” (I John 4:20).
  • “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8).

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). 
​What Matthew 24:37 does say is that our love for our family, whether biological or chosen as our church family, is grounded in the love we have for Jesus, for God, and not the other way around. Loving Jesus is our priority not in the sense that we have a hierarchy of loves, but because we can love our mothers and fa-thers and daughters and sons rightly when that love is grounded in our love of Jesus. Love for Jesus is not the top, but the ground and source of all other loves.

See the accompanying feature story, "Out of control."

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