What does hate actually mean?

I have always thought that hate was the opposite of love but…Jesus told us to hate our parents. He also told us to love our neighbour.
I have always had the wrong understanding of the word hate. It is not the opposite of love.
What does hate actually mean?

  • hate (verb): Old English hatian “regard with extreme ill-will, have a passionate aversion to, treat as an enemy,” from Proto-Germanic *haton

  • hate (noun): Old English hete “hatred, spite, envy, malice, hostility,” from Proto-Germanic *hatis-

Hate, miseo, to love less.

In Scripture, “hate” often means “to love less”, as in “Jacob have I loved, Easu have I hated (loved less than Jacob)”

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The opposite of love is apathy.

Hate, as in real hate, is more like a warped, corrupted love.

So, to get back to what he was talking about, we know that you’re supposed to honor your father and mother, right? So obviously, he isn’t saying hate your parents in the way we think of hating your parents. (The Latin is odit-- which has the sense of he/she/it is displeased by/detests/dislikes.)

So, let’s look at the context of what he’s talking about at the time–

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

In all of those cases, he’s talking about people who start something, but aren’t able to see it through. You start building a tower— but you can’t afford to finish it. You start seasoning your food-- but your salt has lost its oomph and isn’t able to do its job. You’re looking at entering into warfare-- but only a fool starts a war that he doesn’t have enough men to finish.

The same thing is true for following Jesus. You don’t start-- and then get detoured because of your parents, or your spouse, or your children’s, or society’s disapproval. Some people give up spouse and children so they can focus exclusively on God. Other people realize how their path is firmly anchored in their families, and their path to God is a communal journey.

But ultimately, you have to love God more than the things that will cause you to stop partway through your journey, and go wander somewhere else before you get to your destination. If you prioritize other things above God-- your parents’ approval, or society’s approval, or whatever-- you’re never going to be the disciple you were called to be.


This has also been stated by St JP2 thus:
The opposite of love is use.

Hatred, for better or worse, is not lukewarm. A fire is burning in the person, and when God puts himself into that fire and redeems it, it is an awesome force for good. See St Paul.

Love is an outpouring, and the indifferent person is not pouring himself out. This is the evil of relativism and religious indifference. Contrary to popular sentiment love dies in relativism and indifference.


Consider this contrast:

Benedicere: to speak well of, bless

Maledicere: to speak evil of, detest, hate?

Modern Catholic Dictionary:

HATRED. A voluntary act by which someone or something is regarded with bitter aversion. On the first level hatred is directed against either God or some rational being; on the second level it is directed against some quality in another but without hatred of the individual personality.

Personal hatred of God may take the form of disgust, when a person detests God because he punishes sinners. It is a grave sin because it is contrary to the justice of God. Another form is the hatred of enmity, when a person actually wished evil to God. Such hatred is of its nature diabolical, and is the most grievous of all sins, since it approximates the enmity that the devils have against God.

Personal hatred of a human being is the direct opposite of the virtue of love. Where love inspires a person to wish well to another, hatred arouses the desire to do harm or have harm befall the one hated, not as a source of possible good, but precisely as evil. The gravity of such sins of personal hatred depends on how serious the harm wished or intended, and on how deliberately the malicious desires are harbored.

Hatred or a quality in someone may be either sinful or not. If the hatred is directed only toward some evil quality that a person has, but does not touch that person, it is not sinful. It becomes sinful only if the hatred extends to the person who has some admittedly evil trait or sinful habit. Moreover, it becomes specially sinful when the hatred is directed at some virtue that a person possesses, even when the enmity does not extend to the individual personally.

Love and hate can carry various meanings according to various contexts but fundamentally love and hate are contrary and opposite movements of the appetitive power or appetite/s of the soul. Insofar as they are movements of the sensory appetite of the soul which also involves some bodily transmutation or change, they are called passions or emotions and are found in both brute animals and humans. Human also have an intellectual appetite which is the spiritual will so love and hate are also movements of the will which overflows or affects the sensory appetites and bodily passions. The object of love is some perceived good while the object of hate is some perceived evil. Love is a movement of the appetitive power of the soul towards the perceived good object while hate is an aversion or withdrawal of the appetite from some object perceived as evil, harmful, or unbecoming to the animal or human. They are natural emotions or movements of the soul’s appetitive power. Humans and animals are naturally inclined to love and pursue the good according as the perceived good is suitable to the various natures of the various animals or to human beings and naturally inclined to avoid what is evil to them from which arises hate which is an aversion or withdrawal as it were of the appetite of the soul from some present evil. The expression which is in the Bible “Do and pursue good and avoid evil” is called the first principle of the natural law. Love pertains to the doing and pursuing of the good while hate pertains to the aversion and avoidance of evil.

Looks like the Trump troll again.

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This is the best explanation of these passages I’ve ever read. Thank you.

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