Mar 30, 2006

Juicy Oranges

Where I'm coming from.

I heard a man teaching God's Word once (name?) who said something that has had a tremendous impact on my life. In this particular message, he was expounding on the qualifications for elders and deacons, but what he said could apply to any Scripture dealing with daily life. Here is what he said (paraphrased):

"Be careful not to try to squeeze five gallons of orange juice out of one orange."

Here is an example: he was looking at the qualification that an elder be the husband of one wife. As we have all probably experienced, that verse can be interpreted many different ways. Here is his point: just take Scripture at face value for what it says. It ONLY says that he be the husband of one wife. It does not address divorce, being a widower, being a bachelor, or lusting after another woman in his heart (all popular interpretations). It simply says a husband of one wife.

Another good example was the qualification of ruling his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence. This passage does not address how old the children are or a minimum age to be an elder, or being childless. It simply says that his children will be submissive and reverent to him. Period.

I have taken this orange juice principle and applied it every time I study God's Word for a certain purpose. Please make sure that I'm not trying to wring orange juice out of a dry orange!


Mark Epstein said...

I agree with the admonition not to squeeze more out of a single verse of scripture. However, every verse must be viewed in “context.” Not only the context of the immediate surrounding scripture but the subject matter and associated subject matter within the context of the entire Bible.

Therefore, let us take the example of the elder and one wife.

Besides the “one wife” scripture, what is the biblical context?

Well, we know that polygamy was not God’s original design found in the Garden of Eden. We also know the Bible tells us that Moses gave the Israelites the ability to divorce because of the hardness of their hearts. Hardness of heart already is in conflict with the shepherding responsibilities of an elder. Yet, we can take it further when we look at Christ’s permissible grounds for divorce – sexual immorality (unrepentant adultery). Just considering these view verses, we can see a principal evolving: The one wife excludes a polygamous relationship, we know God hates divorce, and we know that elders are shepherds, and shepherds lay down their very lives for their sheep. Therefore, there really is not that much to debate. If an elder is to be tender hearted toward his flock, he is to be the same towards his wife – and there are a number of scriptures stating this.

Thus, applying the principle that is discernable from scripture, an elder should be married one time and to only one woman. I don’t think we are squeezing too much out of this orange, and we are still taking the scripture at face value.

Jen said...

And, hence, you will see that I did NOT include polygamy as a question to be considered in this situation! However, let us consider divorce. I know of one certain recent situation, and I'm sure there are others, where a pastor of a very large church recently had his wife divorce him even though he tried for years to have a godly marriage. Is he the "husband of one wife?" Did he do anything biblically wrong? Not that we are aware of anyway. Notice that I did NOT include remarriage in this list of possibilities, because it would not fall under "husband of one wife." Well, that would be debatable in some circles also!