Learn to Hate your Wife

We talk a lot in Christian circles about how to love our
wives, and rightly so.  But I fear that
we neglect another command of our Lord, which is that we must hate our wives.  And I do not believe these are separate
commands in tension, which we must learn to balance; I do not believe we can
learn to love our wives until we learn to hate them first.
“If anyone comes to
Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and
sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26 NKJ)
What is Jesus commanding us to do here exactly?  A similar passage in Matthew 10:37 says it a
little more gently: “He who loves
father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or
daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matt. 10:37 NKJ)  Some interpreters
reading the Luke passage simply explain it away with the Matthew passage; Jesus
isn’t telling us to actually hate our family members, but just to love them
less than Jesus. 
But those aren’t the
words that Luke uses.  He quotes Jesus as
saying “hate”, and sound Biblical exegesis tells us that while
Scripture certainly must interpret Scripture, we should not simply explain away
one part of the Bible with another.  The
word “miseo” translated there “hate” is used by Luke in
other places to describe the hatred that followers of Jesus would experience
from the world (Luke 6:22; 21:17).  Also in Luke 16:13 we are called to choose between loving God and
loving the world; Jesus tells us we will love one and “hate” the
other.  This is not a matter of loving
one less than another; Jesus presents it as a choice.
This is also what I
believe Jesus is telling us in Luke 14. 
We must choose.  Following Christ
always has costs; in Luke 14 Jesus goes on to tell us to count the cost of
discipleship.  I don’t know a single
serious Christian that hasn’t lost relationships as a result of being a
Christian.  We are faced with a choice,
many times in our lives- either we can have a good relationship with some loved
one in our lives, or we can be faithful Christians, but we can’t have
both.  The Christian should never be the
one forcing this choice on others; being a Christian never means shunning
unbelievers.  But it is the unbeliever that
forces the choice on us.  Jesus tells us
in many places, like Luke 6:22 and 21:17, that the world naturally detests the followers of Christ, and will pressure
them to compromise their faith.  Many in
the world will only have a relationship with the Christian if the Christian
softens or downplays or even denies aspects of his faith that the world finds
repulsive.  (Exhibit:  Tim Tebow)
Where is the ultimate
source of our happiness and satisfaction? 
In Christ, and only in Him. 
Family is a great blessing from God, but family can never provide for me
what Christ provides for me.  I am
blessed to have a good family, but God may one day take that away from me.  He can still provide for me and comfort me
even without my family.  And if I expect
my wife or my parents or my children to be for me what only Christ can be, the
ultimate source of joy, of significance, of contentment, in my life, then I
will put a burden on my family that they can never bear.  A great many problems in families come from
just this error; a man comes to hate his wife because he expected her to
satisfy his every desire, to give him full contentment, which she can never do.
This points us to the
irony of the Christian life, an irony well expressed by Jesus’ statement
above.  A man who loves his wife above
all will ultimately come to hate her. 
But a man who learns to hate his wife for Christ’s sake, to be willing
to lose his wife, to recognize that his wife is a fallen sinner just like he
is, that man will finally be able to truly love his wife as the Bible tells
us.  It is a paradox; only by hating my
wife can I truly love her; whereas loving her above Christ or instead of Christ
is the most hateful thing I can do to her. 
This is just what Jesus meant when He told us that “He who loves
His life will lose it; He who loses his life for my sake will find it.”  Jesus’ statement works just as well
substituting any good thing there for the word “life”.
Many have been lost to
the faith because they could not bear to lose their loved ones.  Many have contemplated Christianity but
rejected it because they knew what their parents would say, what their spouses
or children would say.  Many who started
out in the faith lost it when one of their loved ones abandoned the faith.  To be Christ’s disciple you have to be
prepared for that.  You have to be
prepared to consign any one of your loved ones to the judgment of God, to
reject them and forget about them and write them out of your life.  Some of your loved ones will end up in
hell.  Can you bear that?  Do you love them so much that you will follow
them there?

I’m not advocating shunning.  As long as
our loved ones who reject the faith are willing to talk, willing to have a
relationship, we should be willing as well. 
And some of them might be willing to have that relationship.  But some of them won’t be, and you never know
which ones.  So Jesus is telling us to be
prepared; count the costs.  You can bet
that one day God’s finger will be laid on the idol in your heart, and you will
be asked what you are willing to lose for the sake of Christ.
So men, learn to hate
your wife.  Parents, learn to hate your
children.  Brothers, hate your sisters,
and sisters your brothers.  Be willing to
lose all for Christ; look to nothing and nobody to be to you what only Christ
can give to you.  If you cannot do that,
then you cannot be His disciple.  If you
cannot do that, you will lose your wife and children anyway; trying to hold
back things from Christ just results in losing them and losing Christ. 
But when you do that, when
you are willing to lose all for Him, to despise all, to count it all as dung in
comparison to Him, then Christ will give back to you far more than you were ever
prepared to lose for Him.  Only by
pursuing Christ alone can you ultimately have good relationships with other
people; just as only by pursuing Christ alone will you learn to truly enjoy
food, nature, work, or any other good thing that God gives us.  He gives us everything in Christ; rejecting
Christ, we can have nothing.

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Everything else will be added unto you.

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