This is a good place to start-one of the most troubling lines in the Bible for modern apologists. It appears to fly in the face of the the idea of modern nuclear family values. Of course, the standard explanation is something along the lines of a comparison: "Jesus doesn't mean you really need to hate your family, he just means that next to your love for him, it should seem like you hate everything else." Even agnostic critical scholar Bart Ehrman has made the argument that this is a comparative statement, placing Jesus in the apocalyptic context and making the kingdom of heaven the thing that should receive the higher value.
The problem is, the text doesn't bear this out. There is no comparative term-not in the KJV, the Greek or the Vulgate-to lend support to this idea. The character Jesus in this gospel simply comes out and says to hate all these people you're related to, to bear your own burdens and follow him. It is preceded with the parable of the Bridegroom's banquet for strangers and is followed by the parable of the tower. There is no "next to me" or "compared to your love for me" anywhere, either as an idea or a statement.
In terms of synoptic parallel, this passage is often paired with Matt 10:37:
"Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. "
Fair enough, both end with the idea of taking up the cross. And the softening of the language is well explained by the "de-apocalypticising" of the Jesus movement over time due to the failure of the expectation of the son of man's imminent appearance. However, in Matthew the verse is preceded by an even more troubling line from the "Prince of Peace." (More on that in the next post.) Moreover in Matthew the Bridegroom's feast is found in a completely different place, and Matthew's comparative terms are followed by the report to John the Baptist, so a literalist's plea to Matthew to explain and soften the language are probably a little intellectually disingenuous.
Keep in mind, the purpose of this blog is not to judge what Jesus said, to verify the historical nature of the Bible, to proselytize, to cause doubt or to discover any deeper truth in the Bible. The purpose is to say what is obvious and muse in a (hopefully) amusing manner over that. And poke fun at people with laugh-out-loud-ha-ha-funny-viewpoints on the topic at hand.