Uncles, Aunties etc

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satz

Puritan Board Senior
Does the bible have anything to say about the duties of christians to their uncles/aunts, or the duties of christian uncles/aunts to their nephews?

Any thoughts?
 

Ambrose

Puritan Board Freshman
I remember FN Lee covering this, I think it might have been in Marriage, Family and Kin. But it may have been "Race, People, and Nationality", "Family and Kinsmen", or one of his other sermons. My memory is not so good anymore.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
There are a few places in the Scripture that you might study particularly wrt to this subject:

Esther's relationship to her uncle Mordecai (better to look there than at the Laban-Jacob relationship, in my opinion)

1 Tim. 5.8

Lev. 18.14; Lev. 20.20; Lev. 25.49

Passages where you find the word "kin" or "kinship."

The Fifth Commandment

Westminster Larger Catechism:

Q123: Which is the fifth commandment?

A123: The fifth commandment is, Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.[1]

1. Exod. 20:12

Q124: Who are meant by father and mother in the fifth commandment?

A124: By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents,[1] but all superiors in age [2] and gifts;[3] and especially such as, by God's ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family,[4] church,[5] or commonwealth.[6]

1. Prov. 23:22-25; Eph. 6:1-2
2. I Tim. 5:1-2
3. Gen. 4:20-22; 45:8
4. II Kings 5:13
5. II Kings 2:12; 13:14; Gal. 4:19
6. Isa. 49:23

Q125: Why are superiors styled Father and Mother?

A125: Superiors are styled Father and Mother, both to teach them in all duties toward their inferiors, like natural parents, to express love and tenderness to them, according to their several relations;[1] and to work inferiors to a greater willingness and cheerfulness in performing their duties to their superiors, as to their parents.[2]

1. Eph. 6:4; II Cor. 12:14; I Thess. 2:7-8, 11; Num. 11:11-12
2. I Cor. 4:14-16; II Kings 5:13
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
Thank you Andrew, that is helpful.

Regarding the WLC on the Fifth commandment, if I read it correctly it seems to imply that all 'senior' members of the family are entitled to similar treatment as parents. Is this a correct reading and if so, do you agree?

There are a few places in the Scripture that you might study particularly wrt to this subject:

Esther's relationship to her uncle Mordecai (better to look there than at the Laban-Jacob relationship, in my opinion)

1 Tim. 5.8

Lev. 18.14; Lev. 20.20; Lev. 25.49

Passages where you find the word "kin" or "kinship."

The Fifth Commandment

Westminster Larger Catechism:

Q123: Which is the fifth commandment?

A123: The fifth commandment is, Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.[1]

1. Exod. 20:12

Q124: Who are meant by father and mother in the fifth commandment?

A124: By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents,[1] but all superiors in age [2] and gifts;[3] and especially such as, by God's ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family,[4] church,[5] or commonwealth.[6]

1. Prov. 23:22-25; Eph. 6:1-2
2. I Tim. 5:1-2
3. Gen. 4:20-22; 45:8
4. II Kings 5:13
5. II Kings 2:12; 13:14; Gal. 4:19
6. Isa. 49:23

Q125: Why are superiors styled Father and Mother?

A125: Superiors are styled Father and Mother, both to teach them in all duties toward their inferiors, like natural parents, to express love and tenderness to them, according to their several relations;[1] and to work inferiors to a greater willingness and cheerfulness in performing their duties to their superiors, as to their parents.[2]

1. Eph. 6:4; II Cor. 12:14; I Thess. 2:7-8, 11; Num. 11:11-12
2. I Cor. 4:14-16; II Kings 5:13
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Mark -- You're welcome.

I think what is being said wrt the Fifth Commandment is that not only natural parents but others in particular relationships to us as superiors by virtue of age, gifts and kinship, or otherwise (masters-servants, etc.), should receive "honour to whom honour" is due (Rom. 13.7).

I would not say that uncles and aunts are due the same exact level of honour as parents, if the parents are living and present, under normal circumstances, but they are due a higher level of honour by virtue of "seniority" and kinship than, say, a younger cousin.

The Bible speaks often of families, but also of households, and while a certain reverence is due to kin outside the household, more is due to kin within the household.

On the other hand, it clear that if an uncle or aunt is in fact a guardian in the place of parents (as Mordecai was to Esther), that honour which is due to parents should then be directed to the uncle or aunt. William Gouge has a section on this point in Domestical Duties.

In short, as our relationships expand beyond the direct familial parent-child/guardian-child or master-servant-type connections, the level of honour and deference due to the superior lessens but, as Bob Dylan said, "You got to serve somebody," ie., we are all in relationships to others, familial and otherwise, that require a level of submission and deference, though the degree to which this is true is affected by how direct or indirect the superior-inferior relationship may be.

Of course, all of this said, family situations do vary considerably and these are only meant as generalized comments on how the Fifth Commandment applies.

Does this help?
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
On the other hand, it clear that if an uncle or aunt is in fact a guardian in the place of parents (as Mordecai was to Esther), that honour which is due to parents should then be directed to the uncle or aunt. William Gouge has a section on this point in Domestical Duties.
Thanks, that definitely does help.

Just a question regarding your paragraph above, I am wondering, if a christian person were to be deprived of parents, do you believe there is a duty of uncles to assume a guardian role, and is there a duty of the child to submit to that guardianship if they are able to financially care for themselves already?
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
On the other hand, it clear that if an uncle or aunt is in fact a guardian in the place of parents (as Mordecai was to Esther), that honour which is due to parents should then be directed to the uncle or aunt. William Gouge has a section on this point in Domestical Duties.
Thanks, that definitely does help.

Just a question regarding your paragraph above, I am wondering, if a christian person were to be deprived of parents, do you believe there is a duty of uncles to assume a guardian role, and is there a duty of the child to submit to that guardianship if they are able to financially care for themselves already?
Well, I think there are a lot of unmentioned factors (are there other relatives, such as grandparents, or others, who are closer or better equipped to take on children; how old is the child in question; what is the character of the uncle in question; etc.) but generally I would say that an uncle ought to be disposed to assume guardianship in such a situation if that is appropriate.

BTW, here is an extract from Gouge on this topic:

74. Of their duty who are instead of parents to orphans.

The next sort of those who are instead of parents, are those who in blood and kindred are next to parents: as grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, aunts, elder brothers, or sisters, their husbands or wives, and cousins. These commonly are counted to be in the place of parents, when God taketh away natural and immediate parents from their children: so as they are parents to orphans.

The duties which were prescribed to natural parents appertain to them [except before excepted (see Section 71)]. Their duty is to see these orphans well educated, well placed in some good calling, well married, and [if the orphans be left destitute of means] well provided for.

Mordecai is a worthy precedent and pattern for this kind of parent. He brought up Esther his uncle's daughter [for she had neither father nor mother], he took her for his own daughter (Esth 2:7): when she was taken from him, he went to know how she did, and what should become of her (Esth 2:11): and he gave her advice from time to time how to carry herself (Esth 2:22; 4:13). Let such as are parents to orphans take this example as a direction, and as a motive to perform the other duties prescribed to natural parents as need requireth, and occasion is offered.

God by his providence taking away natural parents committeth their orphans as a charge to the next of kin: that as their natural parents brought them forth, these should bring them up: therefore for their recompence let them look to God, [who taketh upon himself to be a father of the fatherless (Psa 68:5)] and for their encouragement remember the reward which Mordecai received of the Lord: yea also let them remember the blessing that God bestowed upon Esther. God doth oft so bless the means used for the education of orphans, as they who take the care thereof have no cause to repent their pains and cost, but rather have much matter of comfort, joy and thanksgiving.

75. Of the common neglect of orphans.

Too too common is the contrary disposition of most kinsmen, and kinswomen; they think they are bound to none but their own children, and if they have no children, to none at all. Many are of Ruth's kinsman's mind, they fear to marry their own inheritance (Ruth 4:6). Though they be themselves exceeding rich, and spend much in apparel, pastimes, and housekeeping, yet they can suffer the orphans of their poor kindred to want, and to beg for need.

This is it that maketh the loss of natural parents to be so much the greater. And herein many Christians are more inhuman than the heathen: which the Apostle implieth, where he saith, they are worse than infidels (1 Tim 5:8): for orphans' next of kin are to be reckoned among those whom the Apostle termeth a man's Own.

76. Of the duties of guardians.

The last sort of those who are in place of parents, are such as have the charge of children committed to them by voluntary appointment of parents, or are chosen by children themselves, or by the Magistrate when parents are dead, or lunatic, or any other way impotent, and unable to train up their own children.

Of these care and conscience is rather required, than cost and charges: for commonly both their charges are allowed, and their pains recompenced.

They who by reason of the death or impotency of natural parents have the charge of children committed to them, are commonly called Guardians: of whom two general duties are required.

1. That they look to their pupil's good education.

2. That they preserve their patrimony and inheritance.

For their education, the directions given before to natural parents are to be observed by them.

For preservation of their patrimony, they must do for their pupils what they would do for their own children; and so carry themselves, as with good conscience they may give that account to their pupils, or any other, which the Law requireth.

The two forenamed duties, are the main ends for which guardians are chosen: in performing whereof, if they be faithful, great redress will be made of the untimely death of parents; and notwithstanding parents die before their children be of discretion to manage their estate, yet will their houses and families be maintained, and young heirs kept from cunnie-catchers and cheaters.

It is noted of John who had the mother of Jesus commended to him, that he took her to his own home (John 19:27): whereby is implied his provident care for her good.
 
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