As so often, Our Lord’s own words are both far fiercer and far more tolerable than those of the theologians. He says nothing about guarding against earthly loves for fear we might be hurt; He says something that cracks like a whip about trampling them all under foot the moment they hold us back from following Him. “If any man come to me and hate not his father and mother and wife . . . and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).
But how are we to understand the word hate? That Love Himself should be commanding what we ordinarily mean by hatred—commanding us to cherish resentment, to gloat over another’s misery, to delight in injuring him—is almost a contradiction in terms. I think Our Lord, in the sense here intended, “hated” St. Peter when he said, “Get thee behind me.” To hate is to reject, to set one’s face against, to make no concession to, the Beloved when the Beloved utters, however sweetly and however pitiably, the suggestions of the Devil. A man, said Jesus, who tries to serve two masters, will “hate” the one and “love” the other. It is not, surely, mere feelings of aversion and liking that are here in question. He will adhere to, consent to, work for, the one and not for the other.
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 123.