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I think it would be fairly well agreed among this audience that one's allegiance to God comes before all others. Aside from that, does the Bible have anything to say about "all others"?

Where, in relation to one another, does the Bible put one's duties to:

  • Family
    • Parents
    • Siblings
    • Spouse(s)
    • Child(ren)
    • Extended Family
  • Close Friends
  • Country
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There you are. I wondered where you disappeared to at the beginning of beta! –  Caleb Oct 3 '11 at 13:42
    
@Caleb Thanks, it's nice to know I've been missed. I hang out mostly on the IT Security SE and SuperUser. Been pretty busy at work lately, though. –  Iszi Oct 3 '11 at 13:49

3 Answers 3

Based on some research and observation I believe it's the following and I will explain why...

  1. God
  2. Spouse (You)
  3. Yourself (You)
  4. Children (Family)
  5. Career / Business
  6. Extended Family
  7. Friends

  8. God stated in the commandments he comes first. This is clear.

  9. Next in Ephesians 5:25 it states for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Christ put the church first, protected, nourished, and uplifted the church. Our spouse is an extension of us. When they are good we are even better why they are our life partner. Have you ever notice people who don't tithe usually have the worse financial problems... Take that metaphor and apply it to your relationship. If you don't pay attention to your spouse first you become selfish and self centered. Always having a million and one you things before him or her. Besides the kids need to witness what love is
  10. Yourself you can't take care of others until you take care of yourself.
  11. Children duh. Now I'm not sure from this point need to do more research...
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It looks more like this:

  • God
  • Everyone Else
  • Yourself

That's based on the greatest and second greatest commandment and on the command to value others above ourselves.

But what you're asking is in regards to "Everyone Else". In other words, should we love some people more than we love others. Do we have duties to family over friends over enemies?

However, the Bible is clear that we should love everyone alike:

Matthew 5:43-48
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

So, that "Everyone Else" category really does include everyone else.

There is no hierarchy.


Side note
Jesus does mention that his family are the ones who do his will. However, we are also told above that we are to love everyone the same.

Matthew 12:47-50
47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

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Arguably, the statements made in Matt. 48-50 could be construed as uniquely applicable to Jesus himself. Since he is a divine entity, he quite literally has no true mother or siblings. –  Iszi Oct 3 '11 at 13:55
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@Iszi: Jesus is divine but also human! He certainly loves his mother; rather than denying Mary "true" motherhood, his statement here is including other people among his family. Like in John 15:9-17, the relationship between Jesus and his disciples is definitively established as one of love. –  James T Oct 3 '11 at 14:28

If you know enough about the rest of Scripture to know what kinds of things are NOT found, I think you can base an answer almost entirely on this passage:

Mathew 22:34-40 (ESV)
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

The most important thing is loving, honoring and submitting to God. That trumps everything. As far as prioritizing things, that will always be at the top of the list.

Moving down on the list to number two, you find your "all others" lumped together in one big group. The other people and relations you mention are of course mentioned elsewhere in Scripture. You will find instructions to children to honor their parents, slaves to obey their masters, wives to submit to their husbands, citizens to obey the law, and a laundry list of other reminders. However all of these are summarized in this: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

What Scripture does not do is pit these other things against each other. I believe this is because if you really start digging, the only times they will be in conflict are also times when you would also have a conflict of interest with God, and then the choice again becomes clear.

Lets try a scenario where there is an apparent conflict. The country I live in has mandatory military service. Every male has to do their time. Yet many families aren't happy about their children being taken away to war or same other duty. It's generally understood that like it or not it's just a part of life that has to be dealt with and they celebrate that they are honorably serving their country. Every once in a while a child might run into a situation where family and friends advocate not going and doing something to hide from this law. At first glance this may seem like a conflict of interest where you have to prioritize honoring your parents wish for you to go underground or obeying the laws of your country. However if you look at what is expected of you in God's eyes in both cases, it becomes clear that honoring your parents does not always mean obeying them. It would be a dishonor to the family to be dishonest even if that is their wish, so obeying the law is the best way to bring them honor even if they think they are not happy about it.

If you re-approach any apparent conflicts from a good understanding of what loving God requires, the need to prioritize them melts away in favor of the need to do the thing in any given scenario that best reflects your status as a child, servant and ambassador of Christ.

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1  
That is a fine illustration, and a spot-on answer! –  David Stratton Oct 10 '11 at 3:55

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