The Bible Does Not Tell Us to Love Our Parents, But We Should Love Our Neighbors
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” we are told in Leviticus 19:18. Why doesn’t the Bible draw a wider circle, why only one’s neighbor, why not all humankind? Eric Hoffer, American longshoreman and philosopher, explained: Because it is easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one’s neighbor. If you can love your neighbor, you will love all humankind.
The Bible commands us to love our neighbor (Leviticus 19:18), to love the stranger (Leviticus 19:34) and to love God (Deuteronomy 6:5). But not our parents. We are told only to honor (or revere) our parents, but not to love them (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16). Why not love? Perhaps because in so intimate a relationship love cannot be commanded; love is too volatile an emotion in this setting to be commanded. All that can be commanded here is to honor and respect. These are possible even without constant love.