Interpretation, Application, Personalization

Discussion in 'Marriage Issues' started by Mojo, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. Mojo

    Mojo Well-Known Member Male

    I can't figure out where else to put this post, so I guess the marriage section is most appropriate (mods, feel free to move).

    Many of us know this famous portion of scripture from Jeremiah:
    11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

    My question is: At what point can we take a portion of scripture and take it from interpretation, to application, then personalization? When is it inappropriate? Is ALL of scripture able to be personalized?

    Example: A few verses before, in the same chapter, we read that this proclamation was specifically for those who were carried away captive.
    4Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;

    Strict exegesis would say this was a specific proclamation for a specific time, to specific people (those led away captive).

    But, many believers take the "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you," and personalize it to their own lives. Is this correct?

    Bottom line application to marriage in general, and plural marriage specifically is: Can we hold every scripture about marriage and apply it to plural marriage? Can we take every promise about God's shepherding characteristics and leading us in his divine plan and personalize them to us for every moment in life (yes, taking a second spouse).

    Yes, I know I've asked this in various forms and in different posts before, but I'm not sure I've settled it in my mind. I know many couples seeking God's wisdom in expanding their families may have the same thoughts. Is God calling the shots and we acquiese? Or, do we call the shots, and God chooses whether to bless our free will choices?
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
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  2. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Male

    Mojo, this sounds like an application-specific version of a general question re "how can I know the will of God?". Is that a fair assessment, or am I misreading you?
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  3. Mojo

    Mojo Well-Known Member Male

    It can be generically classified as such, but I segregate it specifically to marriage (poly or mono) because of every little granny in church pews who prays for the right man for their granddaughter, or the faithful young man of God who is waiting for the right girl that God wants him to marry.

    We've got a society full of people looking for "soul mates" and they stand around like the men of Gallilee, gazing around waiting for a sign.

    God tells us his general/common will in statements like "God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance". But, it goes back to sovereign vs. free will. Is he not willing that ANY (mankind) should perish and we must make a personal choice, or is he just not willing that his sovereignly elected will not perish, and he sends irresistible grace to make sure it happens?

    God has ordained marriage as an institution. It's his general will that sex and families be bound within the system of marriage. So, if a man marries an eligible wife or wives and has children with them, he is following God's will and plan for family. his plan and will specifically ordained for certain individuals to be joined to other certain individuals?

    So, I guess it's like becoming part of the elect. Do I choose the spouse, or does God choose for me? Can I reject what he has chosen? Can I choose who he has not chosen as a spouse?
  4. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Male

    I think we're going to have different experiences here. I've had some experiences in my life where God told me "yes", some where he told me "no", and some where he didn't have much to say. I've also had some experiences where I think God was telling me "are you a grownup or a child?", or "be a man", or something along those lines, but that may just be me, and in any event that's a subset of "it's up to you". "Where the spirit of Christ is, there is liberty."

    So if you're not hearing God say "marry this one", are you hearing God say "don't marry this one"? You may be in the middle, and it may very well be your call.
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  5. Mojo

    Mojo Well-Known Member Male

    Assume it wasn't me, or any other BF member. Assume it's an older niece or nephew. How would we discuss the "will of God for marriage? Do we describe it to them as a general will? As a specific, individually reserved, God choice?

    I personally lean towards the idea that we make too many things in scripture "what is God saying to me?" instead of "what is God saying in general?" I think we've become too "me-centric" when it comes to scripture.
    ZecAustin likes this.
  6. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Male

    Agreed 100%. Comparison: Most of the time, I don't care what my children are doing as long as they're not doing something I have specifically prohibited and they are being reasonably productive (not wasting time). Meanwhile, if I have a specific opportunity I think they should check out or responsibility I need them to take care of (two very different things), I'll bring it to their attention. If it's an opportunity, they're free to pass. If it's a responsibility, I expect a response.

    So it is with God our Heavenly Father, in my experience. There's no ONE mode in which he relates to us. The most important first reality check is "am I hearing anything specifically from God right now that is direction to do something I hadn't considered or not to do something I'm considering", followed by "is there any general rule that prohibits what I'm considering?". After that, you're on your own. And I think in many if not most cases, apart from the things we're clearly not supposed to be doing, we have a lot of latitude.

    Put another way, I think if God is saying something particular to you, then duh, that's your answer, but we should not expect that in every single case God is going to have a specific word for us individally. That is essentially childish behavior. (Not being insulting, being technical. It is the expectation of a child to be told what to do.)
  7. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Male

    I really didn't want to say this, but I can't not say it, apparently.

    It is the expectation of a child or a woman to be told what to do.

    I don't have a personal axe to grind here, and if I had a choice I'd rather not piss anybody off, but the truth is that our culture has been feminized, and our men are grown effeminate. We are men: we do, we lead, we problem solve, we adapt, improvise, and overcome. "Quit ye like men, be strong", as Paul said (1 Co 15:13). We make decisions and we create the future.

    So sometimes God will direct us specifically and personally to do or not do, but in the meantime, and most of the time, it is up to us to be the men our fathers and Heavenly Father will be proud of.
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  8. Mojo

    Mojo Well-Known Member Male

    Nobody get mad at me here, but I kind of get tired of people saying "Pray about it, to see if it's God's will" for just about any matter in life. Really? Does God care if I choose Applebee's or Cracker Barrel for dinner?

    To use your imagery, I think of 100 doors all line up. God says 99 doors have my blessing, just don't choose the one door marked "no entry". I don't think he's got a magnet leading me to just one door. It's all good, so I choose.

    Eat of every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

    I personally think God gives each man and woman LOTS of choices, but we turn it into "God has just the perfect spouse waiting for me!"

    It goes back to seeing scripture that way too. Does God really have to speak to me personally when I read scripture? How selfish.
  9. Mojo

    Mojo Well-Known Member Male

    Like survival skills? How do I get out of this box canyon? Help, I'm stuck in Manhattan. How do I get out? My phone died, how do I make dinner?

    We are a dependent society. It shows in young people incapable of knowing how to choose a spouse.
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  10. Shibboleth

    Shibboleth Active Member Male

    I like the direction this conversation is going, because it's something I've struggled with learning. I suppose in a way, this is the theological variation of an engineer's "analysis paralysis".

    So of course, I'm going to throw a curveball to see where it goes. What do we do with all the verses telling us to wait on the Lord? I feel like maybe at some point, "waiting" turns into being that unfaithful servant who buries his one talent, because he doesn't know what to do with it.
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  11. Mojo

    Mojo Well-Known Member Male

    Not a wrench.
    It's struggling with the nature of God and our existence within his realm. Are these absolute dichotomies (exclusive)or are they more of a Venn diagram (exclusive with shared characteristics)?

    Which verses? Let's dissect them to see if they are truly applicable to "me" or to a general/common application?
  12. MrB

    MrB Active Member Male

    If you view gods will as a tight rope or razors edge that one false move and you can fall off
    decisions become critical to get right
    If you view gods will as more like a playground
    It's a bit more relaxed..
    Theres a big difference between falling off the razors edge compared to climbing the fence that surrounds the playground.
  13. Mojo

    Mojo Well-Known Member Male

    Nice imagery.

    It brings to mind "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" by Jonathan Edwards. At any moment, we could be swept away into damnation (or in this case lifelong regret) if we aren't constantly deciphering God's will on that tightrope at each moment.

    The playground analogy is great too. God's kingdom reality is not as restrictive as many presume it to be. There are those who just find the allure past the fence too enticing.
  14. Verifyveritas76

    Verifyveritas76 Moderator Staff Member Male

    I think a lot of it has to do with being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. I can look back in my life and see many instances where as long as I was willing to go and do whatever, He would orchestrate the scene and allow me to meet someone who was instrumental in opening doors or making another introduction or pointing me in a particular direction. As long as I was willing and didnt try to force things beyond trying the door knob, he would unlock the door in His own time. The end result was always surprising to me because I could look back and see that He had given favor or the results were so much better than I could have even asked for if I had known what to ask for.

    Proverbs 3:5&6 become a go to passage for this topic.
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  15. Jim an Apostle

    Jim an Apostle Active Member Male

    I use an acronym F I S H to help find the will of God

    F ruit of the Spirit
    I nward witness
    S cripture
    H igher Gifts and callings

    The Scripture should be quickened to us personally by the Spirit, not just taken as just a rule book to follow. Just because Jesus put mud in a blind man's Eye doesn't mean you should or should not.
    Romans 8:14
    For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

    Sometimes the leading of the Spirit comes through one who is 'over you' in the Lord.

    I believe best results usually occur when all 4 of these are in agreement.
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  16. Mojo

    Mojo Well-Known Member Male

    Please explain
    F and I in more detail please.
  17. ZecAustin

    ZecAustin Well-Known Member Male

    Wait, what? Did everyone just agree on something?
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  18. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Male

    Shhh! Don't want to ruin our reputation as a bunch of contentious cranks....
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  19. Jim an Apostle

    Jim an Apostle Active Member Male

    F...The battle is for the Fruit, i.e. the fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace... Gal 5:22
    We get distracted thinking the battle is for souls, or money, or power, or prestiege or...
    Satan from the Garden wanted the spirit of man to produce 'works of the flesh' not 'fruit of the Spirit.'
    Anything that contaminates the Fruit is suspect of being not God's will. The Fruit has to be examined in the big picture. and from God's perspective. Judgment (Ananias, and Sapphira ) would be seen by most at first glance and being an act contrary to the concept of Fruit! But from God's perspective, it was an act of mercy and peace upon the body as a whole so it would be preserved from contamination. Judgment should always be coupled with mercy. It may not be mercy to the one being judged, but rather an act of mercy to someone being protected from greater harm.

    Hebrews 12:14
    Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

    Even truth has to be handled with the intention of the Fruit, not intentionally to bring contention and division... especially among the brethern.

    I... the 'inward witness' is our inner persuasion of the will of God. It is often manifested through conscience... maybe through peace... sometimes through fear! Noah moved with fear (Hebrews, chapter 11) The inward witness is considered by most to be the trump card of spiritual decisions. In the Kingdom if an 'all voices are NOT equal' approach is taken, then a child should recognize that the instruction of the parent overrides their perception of what is 'right,' or 'wrong,' or 'God's will.' The same concept applies all the way up the chain of command according to gifts and callings. Agabus the Prophet and the whole church thought (had their inward witness set) that Paul should not go to Jerusalem, for bondage awaited him. Paul the Apostle, followed his own inward witness because he had the 'higher' calling. A person of 'lower' calling such as a wife, or a child, may follow their own inward witness if they chose; however, they will stand directly accountable to God for that decision, and will then lose the benefit of the covering that comes with 'higher gifts and callings' such as a parent or husband giving an account to God for them in that matter. We all make decisions daily that we 'feel' are in accordance with the will of God, and those in authority over us. But if the situation is drastic enough, one may feel compelled to override what those in authority might have willed; but it should be not of rebellion, but with "fear and trembling.'

    Hope this helps.
  20. Mojo

    Mojo Well-Known Member Male

    Thank you.