Saturday, April 30, 2011


Have you ever wondered what the Fruit of the Spirit called love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith and self-control" in Galatians 5 really looks like? I think it looks like boundaries. Let me explain. It will take a while. 

I think it might be fair to say that when it comes to understanding boundaries there should be no "one size fits all" kind of thinking. We are all from different backgrounds, at differing levels of maturity and possess different kinds of personal baggage.

So as I give my own understanding of the practice of boundaries, with illustrations, you would be wise to read it as testimonial rather than teaching. 

It may take much thought and some time for you to grasp your own boundary concepts. My desire is that my journey and information will be something of a beacon for the journey you might have to take. But my understanding is based on Galatians 5:22-24. Let me explain.

There are generally thought to be two categories of boundaries in relationships that are important to understand. External boundaries are one and internal boundaries are the other. The external boundary idea implies that there is a line for every person that is not to be crossed physically without permission. Much as the boundary between two nations like America and Mexico. Each nation is responsible to enforce the mutually agreed boundary that both have for a healthy relationship to exist.

To bring this to personal relationships, it speaks of where your skin is the beginning of your personhood and you take personal responsible for giving permission for anyone to touch you. If someone strikes you, physically abuses or assaults you, they have crossed a boundary and that is as much an act of aggression against you as it was for Germany to invade Poland in September of 1939 or Iraq to invade Kuwait in August of 1990.

This is commonly understood and accepted so we have laws to protect us against that kind of invasion and ways to deal with that kind of aggression. [Spousal abuse laws, rape laws, assault and battery, etc.] It would be wise for all Christians to see that we are free to use those laws for our protection when and where this kind of thing happens, even in marriage, since 1 Peter 2:13-15 doesn't make marriage an exception to this command written to Christians.

Internal boundaries are, however, a different kind of thing, but just as real. They are more subtle and more easily misunderstood and even dismissed by many people to their own pain in relationships. 

Internal boundaries are themselves best thought of as falling into certain categories. I found these in previous reading and study and have adapted them for my own use. Trust me, I've violated every one of them in my experience of growing. 

The two columns below show what the boundaries internally are and the kind of words, talk, or actions that do, in fact, violate those boundaries.
When someone makes assumptions about another’s internal state that person crosses an internal boundary and there will be consequences. Those consequences are broken relationships internally whether that brokenness is ever admitted orally or not.

As someone I read said, " Boundaries are respect in action. Any time we speak to another person as if we know what they are thinking, feeling, or should think or feel, we cross a boundary. Crossing those boundaries always causes trouble. Just as violating a external boundary can lead to conflict, violating an internal boundary can lead to anger or disruption of a mutually respecting relationship." 

Now for the Kicker. And I think it is quite a kicker. Be honest with yourself as you answer this question. As you have read what has been written in these last four post on boundaries, were you basically thinking, "Well, this sure speaks to some of the people I know who don't respect boundaries as proven in the way they treat me."

If your answer is "yes," you may be in danger of missing the main point or issue. I don't want any of us to miss the point, writer included, so let me say it very carefully... 

"The main point of boundaries... that are so necessary for healthy relationships... is that I... can discern my own motives, thoughts, intents, feelings, and actions... toward other I will not be a boundary violator and relationship destroyer."

It is true that on occasion I may have to deal with someone else overstepping a relational boundary with me, but it is not God's purpose for me to try and control or change another person. My goal is not changing others but it is to "be" to others what God is "being" to me in terms of our real relationship.

In our relationship He is never demanding. He is never a control freak. He loves me enough to let me suffer the consequences of my own choices while, at the same time, never acting on the basis of what I might demand of Him. He never forces me to think or act a certain way.  He loves me too much to do that, and He could if He chose to. But He has a real love that is revealed in genuine self control. [That kind of love and self control are the fruit of His Spirit working in me as well.]

So now... re-read what has been written about external and internal boundaries and their violation with that in mind.

Do I refuse to violate anyones external boundaries? [Refuse to physically abuse anyone with whom I'm have a relationship]

Do I try to tell people how they should or ought to feel or, worse, do I say that I totally understand how they feel when no one possibly can? Do I tell people their feelings are wrong?

Do I assume I know what someone is thinking or wants without asking them? Do I assume or assign a motive to people? ["You're saying that because you think...Blank..."]

Do I negate a person's thought which they are expressing by giving my own without any interest in what they've just said? Do I speak for my wife [Or husband or kids] by assuming she [They] will do something because someone asks me... "Will you...blank..?...and I say "Sure we will."? [Thus, speaking for another person.]

Do I say to a person "If you don't believe this doctrine exactly the way I state it to be true, you are probably not a Christian. In fact, you obviously are a heretic."

Of course boundaries help protect from abuse in relationships and help bring about fulfilling relationships where honored, but, hear this now, our goal in life is not, ultimately, self-protection, or self-fulfillment. 

Our goal in life is to present the truth about a relationship with God that has been provided in the person and work of His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, and presenting that message not only with our lips, but with lives that back up what we say about love and grace. 

All this is possible only within the boundaries of personal responsibilities that begin with repentance and faith toward God and then by respectfully living in godly relationships with others as we give an answer for the hope in us.

In times of no persecution, Christians can speak that gospel freely for which we're grateful. But believability will come primarily as people see the truth of what we say in how we act within relationships.

In times of persecution, where no one cares about the gospel, much less boundaries, and even hate Christians, we are, then, willing to lay our lives down while people walk all over God's Truth, including boundaries. 

Our Lord did this when He was on this earth. He had His boundaries, but chose to suffer when God's purpose for Him was greater than any violated boundary. This, because being true to our first relationship, is most real and more significant than any other, including family.  So, we too, would be willing to suffer for the cause of the Kingdom.

It is this that enabled the people of Hebrews 11 to be willing to die rather than deny their faith and trust in God. But I will not get to that place in my walk of faith until and unless I am willing to live out boundaries that are revealed in my "Core values" right now. It is my relational core values that make my relationships real. [It is this that is real dying to one's own flesh IMHO.]

Remember what those relational core values are?

One---I'm created in His image, as is every human being, and have been created to have a real and healthy personal relationship with Him, myself, and others. Relationships are to be emphasized in that order.

Two---Any thing that mars or hinders His image in me is to be seen as less than His purpose for me. This is why sin had to be dealt with as only He could. This is also why unhealthy and controlling relationships, on my part or on the part of others, are less than His purpose for me.

Three--That image includes my body, mind, emotions, will, spirit, in other words, my total person. His Spirit has set me free to exercise, in freedom, all faculties that make up that image recognizing the ever present sin principle in me that remains until the resurrection.

Four--Any relationship that would rob me of personal responsibility for any portion of my personhood as a Christian is to be questioned and seen as unhealthy, if not harmful!

Five--A significant factor in building any healthy relationship is that it is to reflect what we are "being" in that relationship and not what we are "doing" in it. Relationships that are healthy depend on how we function in grace and truth not on how we perform in roles.

Six---The overriding purpose in my having other relationships, whether marriage or church or friend, is so I can mirror what He and I have together relationally. In order to be to others what He is being to me, it is essential that I not ignore the boundaries that are necessary for other relationships to be, in fact, healthy and mutually satisfying, rather than unhealthy and controlling.

My prayer is that this far too long and wordy blog series about boundaries will help light our way. Mine included.

Paul B

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I am learning to develop boundaries which scripturally guide my uniqueness , responsibilities, and freedom as a person and which become, to me, something of an indication of the health of any relationship. These boundaries enable me to be who I really am with God, myself and others rather than pretending to be who I am not or trying to be the way people wish I were. These boundaries allow any relationship to be built on the truth that says this is where I begin and you end and where you begin and I end. These are not to be viewed as rules but as a map by which we can, in truth, maintain a healthy relationship as we walk our journey of grace with one another.

The idea of boundaries in relationships is based on a certain premise. It would be helpful to remember that the word "premise" is defined as..."a statement or proposition from which another is inferred or follows as a conclusion if the premise is true, then the conclusion must be true."

The premise for my belief in the legitimacy of boundaries in relationships is what I call my "Core Beliefs." These are not theological beliefs per se but relational core beliefs that include some theological truths. Because I'm speaking as a Christian my own personal relational boundaries begin with the premise that the most important relationship I have is the one I have with the One who Himself made me and redeemed me from a fallen state as a human being. All relationships begin and extend from mine with Him.

Let me give a simple list of these core beliefs to which I hold and that result or lead logically and correctly, I believe, into boundaries. It would help if you hear these as concepts and not rules. These are the green lights/red lights that make for a safe and gracious journey in relationships. This is my list only....

One---I'm created in His image, as is every human being, and have been created to have a real and healthy personal relationship with Him, myself and others. Relationships are to be emphasized in that order. 

Two---Any thing that mars or hinders His image in me is to be seen as less than His purpose for me. This is why sin had to be dealt with as only He could. This is also why unhealthy and controlling relationships, on my part or on the part of others, are less than His purpose for me. 

Three--That image includes my body, mind, emotions, will, spirit, in other words, my total person. His Spirit has set me free to exercise, in freedom, all faculties that make up that image recognizing the ever present sin principle in me that remains until the resurrection.

Four--Any relationship that would rob me of personal responsibility for any portion of my personhood as a Christian is to be questioned and seen as unhealthy, if not harmful!

Five--A significant factor in building any healthy relationship is that it is to reflect what we are "being" in that relationship and not what we are "doing" in it. Relationships that are healthy depend on how we function in grace and truth not on how we perform in roles.

Six---The overriding purpose in my having other relationships, whether marriage or church or friend, is so I can mirror what He and I have together relationally. In order to be to others what He is being to me, it is essential that I not ignore the boundaries that are necessary for other relationships to be, in fact, healthy and mutually satisfying, rather than unhealthy and controlling.

That is a list of my core beliefs for relationships that I have put together for me as a Christian. They are a guiding light for whatever relationship I might choose to built whether it is in marriage, immediate family, extended family, in-laws, friendships, church, work, or as a citizen of a nation or world.

Someone is going to think, if not say out loud, "What about just living by the golden rule?" These core beliefs are the golden rule translated into relationship language for me.

Someone is going to think, if not say out loud, "Don't the scriptures tell us to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves? Why make it so complicated."

This is simply that put in relational language for me after giving serious thought to my responsibility for being what I've been redeemed to be as a human being. 

I've always wondered why a young couple will spend months planning a wedding, shopping for a dress, sending invitations, arranging plane trips, booking hotel rooms, getting tuxedos, preparing food, all for an event that lasts about 45 minutes as a ceremony and 2 hours as a reception but never spend any time looking into or investigating what it takes to really live together as man and wife in a healthy and gracious way!!

It seems to me the importance of a marriage demands a bit more thoughtfulness than just planning the ceremony. This, especially if you intend for the marriage to last a lifetime and be beneficial for both while portraying something of their relationship as the Church to her Bridegroom. The same can be said of any legitimate relationship into which you enter.

If relationships are so important, and they are, some thoughtful examination may need to be done. That examination has to have a measuring stick so you can know of its' health with regards to God's purpose.

I said earlier that I believe Southern Baptist spend hours, even years, building theological systems, yet little time learning or building relationship skills. So we've wound up with heads full of truths, theologically, but little in terms of solid, healthy, biblically gracious relationships. Thus, we have people who can state correct biblical facts, even doctrinally, yet be angry, egotistical, mean-spirited, controlling, individuals with the people around them, whether that is family or church, yet all the while thinking they are being champions of the Faith. If they only knew. 

This is my attempt to help us learn some skills that I believe are lacking. Thus, the premise for boundaries that enable healthiness and mutual benefit is what I'm addressing here. "If the premise is true, then the conclusion must be true." 

The conclusion next time.

Paul B.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


The purpose of anything is of primary importance. To know that the purpose of a clock is to tell time will always help in defining whether something is actually a clock or not. A beautiful gadget, pink with flowers and large hands, as well as small ones, hanging on a wall, doth not a clock make. If it isn't telling time it may be called a clock, but you would have to use other words in speaking of it also. Words like broken, no good, useless, or even, "It's pretending to be a clock," But it isn't fulfilling the purpose of a real clock.

This means the purpose of boundaries will be very important for us to know so we can be aware that when other people use words when speaking of boundaries like unchristian, barriers, roadblocks, anti-scriptural, and many others, they are speaking of something other than real boundaries. Some people use such words for boundaries, and even worse. Whether their words are legitimate or not depends on the purpose for boundaries it would seem to me.

Setting boundaries in human relationships is really simply about learning to be responsible for my own choices and feelings. In simple terms, boundaries are, "For the purpose of taking personal responsibility for my part of any relationship I have with someone no matter what happens or who is involved." It is this purpose that would reveal whether a boundary is legitimate or is actually a barrier, wall, or an element of manipulation or something else

Healthy boundaries will allow for the development of healthy relationships where we can be genuinely close but neither person is losing themselves or smothering the other person.  To lose yourself to another person is more cult-like than it is Christian and allows someone to be Lord of your life rather than Jesus being your Lord. To smother another person is to assume Lordship over them and is also cultic and not Christian.

So you can see boundaries help you know how you may cross an unhealthy line in doing for someone else that for which they are really responsible or the acceptance of others doing something for you for which you are really responsible. Thus, healthy boundaries can bring about healthy relationships for both whether in a marriage, parent-child, friend, work, or church membership context.

Illustrations will help perhaps. How about your door? The front door is a boundary. It is saying to whoever it is approaching, "This is as far as you can come without permission!" I know some people leave their door open and unlocked perhaps, but I think that is dangerous for their family. We can argue all day that it used to be done or that it ought to be able to be done. But the fact is, it can't healthily be done in our present day and good safety be present for your family. This is true as well if there are small children inside who need to be protected from going out into a busy street.

Now if someone takes it upon themselves to come in your closed and locked door without asking permission or waiting for your invitation, it's called breaking and entering. It's a crime. I think it's a crime in relationships to act that way too.

Now, apply this to Jesus saying to the rich young ruler what was needed in answer to his question and remember that he went away sorrowfully. Remember also that there is no indication Jesus went after him any more than Jesus went after the folks in Jerusalem when He would have gathered them to Himself but they would not. Then there is the prodigal son who had wasted all and was in the pig pen and had to come to himself without the father jumping in and cleaning up his mess for him.

The father didn't do that for him did he! He didn't even go after him!! Most parents who are always going after their kids to clean up the messes their kids make would describe their actions as loving actions, but the father of the prodigal would disagree. He would point out kids need to face the consequences of their choices to be able to healthily "come to themselves" without which true repentance will never come. True love is loving enough to not take on the responsibility that belongs to another.

I know in Luke 15 the woman swept and hunted for the coin and the Shepherd left the ninety and nine and went after the one. But the father didn't. Perhaps there is a point of healthy relationship being made here that we often do not see. I think that "perhaps" is correct.

What has just been illustrated is healthy boundaries. Remember our definition? Boundaries are for the purpose of taking personal responsibility for my part of any relationship I have with someone no matter what happens or who is involved. In the case of the rich young ruler or the prodigal son it is not assuming their responsibility as my own. Same thing.

Some people learn this secret to good relationships in their family of origin. Some don't. They are adults before they learn. I'm in the second group. It can be painful and difficult to learn to live with healthy boundaries, but it was this that seems to reveal Jesus as never being a victim but always choosing to do whatever He believed was His responsibility before the Father and taking the consequences.

While we will never be Jesus, we can be Christ-like in our relationships and the pain and difficulty of learning such things as healthy boundaries are worth it in the long run. It's called real relationships.

Mary loves a saying she heard someone use years ago that stuck with her. I have come to love it too.  It goes this way...."You will never have a healthy relationship with anyone unless you are willing to lose that relationship." If you don't believe that statement ask the father of the prodigal. 

I believe that is the purpose of the freedom Adam and Eve had originally. They made a mess of what they were responsible for to be sure. But that's the reason we can have a healthy relationship with God today post-fall.

 He always enters into a relationship responsibly, if He chooses to have one, out of love, and He did, thus the message of gospel. Then, when we take our responsibility of repentance and faith, if we choose to, a new healthy relationship is born. [I know and believe all the reformed theology about our willingness is by His power, but it doesn't negate our responsibility in it at all.]  

Boundaries make for risky ventures into relationships. But pretend relationships, like pretty things that hang on a wall never telling time, won't do, if you need to know the time of day. We do need real relationships.

More next time.

Paul B.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Things to remember as you read what I'm going to say about boundaries in human relationships...

One...I believe the bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God in its original manuscripts, and means what it means even when it gives statements whether recorded as from the devil, opinions of its writers, strange facts relating to early biblical cultures, or speaks on any issue which it addresses. All of it is accepted by me as God's Word given to me primarily for life and as the revelation about the One who is Himself, the Way, the Truth, and the life, and the final revelation of God.

Two...I'm theologically conservative and yet have found that I agree completely and totally with NO single theologian I've read or studied, living or dead. I fully expect this to be true for the rest of my journey. I'm also continuing to discover how I sometimes mistakenly interpreted the text concerning some of the non-salvific issues found in scripture. Which interpretation I accepted early on and had to adjust later in my bible study journey as I restudied those texts and this too will continue I'm sure.

Three...I'm convinced that most Southern Baptists are woefully ignorant of relational principles that are essential for building good human relationships and are, therefore, basically lacking in good healthy human relationships.

Four...I believe that relational principles are valid for life and are good for Christians to know even if they are not specifically stipulated or stated in scripture, as long as they do not violate scripture or are taught as if they are as sacred as scripture. In other words, any relational principle one might learn need not be viewed as an enemy just because it is not declared in the bible. But they are not to be viewed as sacred either.  Just helpful if we choose to pay attention to them.

You may be thinking, "Why the disclaimer?"

It is because sometimes people who talk or write about human relationship in terms of relational principles are thought of as being unbiblical in their approach, or worse, being anti-scriptural, talking in psychological mumbo-jumbo, heretical, and a host of other less than Christian labels that have been used. So, I've identified who I am and what I believe from the start. Now reread the four points previously written if you choose. They will make a little more sense perhaps.

All this because my next post is going to deal with the relational principle of boundaries which, when first heard by a Christian, may sound as if it is unchristian to the core. It did to me a few years ago. I couldn't reconcile it with my view of a Christian serving God and people. I certainly couldn't reconcile it with my view of a crucified self and the scriptures telling me to turn the other cheek and when compelled to go a mile...go the extra mile... by choice for crying out loud. Boundaries? I didn't think so.

But what brought about a different way of thinking was when I discovered that some of my ways of being a servant to others were not really loving THEM at all and were, in fact, doing great damage to them. I also discovered, much to my dismay, that some of the service I was doing as a Christian was actually for MYSELF and not for others as I tried to think or project. When I put that in my pipe and smoked it [not literally, just my metaphor for contemplation], I had to do some heavy evaluating about my life as a Christian and a follower of Jesus.

This last statement segues into my final thought.

It was when I discovered that Jesus had boundaries in His relationships with people that set me to thinking in a new way. Boy, was that an eye-opener. While the scriptures don't speak of boundaries specifically, I found that Jesus modeled such in His own life. He never seemed to make a choice that was because someone else had made a bad choice. His choices seemed to be genuinely independent of whatever someone else wanted or desired in the moment. He wasn't pressured into them. His motives for what He chose to do were higher than that and maybe even of a different kind than that.

So He was, it seemed to me, never a victim of circumstances even those that damaged Him or at the mercy of the actions of other people. He never seemed to act out of desperation or because if He didn't do SOMETHING others might be hurt, suffer pain, or suffer some kind of discomfort. Yet He never seemed to NOT love or NOT care for others or NOT have the actual best interest of others at heart.

His actions certainly seemed to me to be above the realm of having been done so He personally would not be the cause of others having an uncomfortable experience in life. His choices seemed to be determined by what, in fact, He saw as something the Father intended for Him. There was a greater something in view than being at the whim and mercy of others' plight. What was it about Him in human relationships?

It was almost as if Jesus always took a divine step of applying the proverbial oxygen mask [of life] to Himself BEFORE He ever attempted to get others to see and experience their need for an oxygen mask [of life]. Any frequent flyer will understand that, but few of us seem to understand it relationally.

Jesus did apparently understand it and what I saw and came to understanding about Him I will attempt to explain in this thing of boundaries. I will attempt to show how boundaries will help us in having REAL relationships in our marriage, family, with friends, and even in the Church, that are graceful, respectful and healthy. Which may just be another way of saying Christlike.

That post next time.

Paul B.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


The final concept that is important to grasp in order to correctly interpret and understand the bible is the discovering of the difference between a timeless truth and a regulation for a certain people at a certain time. This will conclude the four that I've chosen to mention. The first three were...

Grammatical Integrity,
Historical Integrity,
Contextual Integrity.

Now learning to know the difference between a timeless truth and a regulation for a specific people and a specific time is the final one. By the way, none of these are original with me. I've gleaned them from the study of numerous people whom I respect and appreciate and are a lot smarter than am I regarding all things biblical. Some of those people are dead and some are alive but none of them mind us learning from what they've written or said I'm sure. 

There was a word delivered to the generation that was then which is the original meaning intended by the writers under inspiration. Then there is also a truth for the now which was intended by God and which the true author, the Holy Spirit, desires to make personal to us. The truth that transcends the past to the present is what we could call a timeless principle although all of the scripture is truth from God as we all know.

That said, I need to emphasis that no one persons idea in this area of bible interpretation is the final word for correctness, including mine. But every person needs to wrestle with it to have a good grasp of the biblical materials and an ear for the Word of God as God has given it in scripture. Remember... it is too easy to say, "The bible means what it says." It is far better to say, "The bible says what it means and our job is to find out that meaning." It is to that end I've belabored the point with these three posts.

Let's begin by admitting that the first three, by and large, lead you to the fourth. In other words, if you will adequately do the first three it will generally result in the fourth being easy to see and understand. Someone has said, "Clearly, Scripture is not a collection of timeless truths. Although some of its truths are timeless, others parts of the Bible are designed for a specific situation in a specific culture, and it would be wrong for us to take them out of that context and impose them on modern situations. First-century men were advised to pray with their hands raised (1 Tim. 2:8). Slaves were advised to submit even to harsh masters (1 Pet. 2:18). Virgins were advised to remain virgins (1 Cor. 7:26). Women were told how to dress when they prayed (1 Cor. 11:5), and men were given advice regarding hair length (v. 14). Similarly, people were told to greet one another with a kiss." 

For our example to help us understand the difference we'll take 1 Timothy 2:8. It says..."I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath or doubting." Is the writer [Paul the Apostle] saying that God is commanding men when they pray to lift their hands? Most of us think not. Why?  The word used here translated "will" is a much milder word than is used other places and is not an expression of a command. That fact can be found in John A.T. Robertson's word studies as you do the first step I called the grammatical integrity work or the study of the language. If he had meant it literally then we are to pray in a certain posture [hands raised] and with a certain inner attitude. [Never angry or doubtful when we pray.]

So did he, in fact, intend us to read it as literal? I don't think so. The language is showing that Paul was saying that he thought it was the right thing for men to pray with a purity about their intention or motive for praying. ["holy hands" raised is a colloquialism for purity in prayer. It would be the same as me saying you were driving as fast as lightning down the road. Don't take me literally on that. It is a present day colloquialism for speed.] Along with a pure motive when praying there was to also be an attitude clear of any anger and doubt.

Then, were one faithful to the historical integrity mentioned above, he or she would also find that the people of that day DID NOT normally bow heads and close their eyes to pray. That would lend weight to the method of prayer being a cultural thing and not a command. So the language and history do not demand a literal obedience to a certain method or posture while praying as something commanded by Paul.

Finally, in context, Paul was writing to a particular situation in the Church in Ephesus where Timothy was pastoring. There were those present in worship who had been a big disturbance to the entire congregation. [Including a woman and her husband who were not getting along described in the next few verses.] They were making a problem of themselves with anger and were casting doubt on the teaching they had previously received from Paul himself about the creation order. 

So Paul was here addressing those who were a disturbance. He is saying they were to be careful when they participated in public prayers that their actions [Illustrated by the lifting of hands which they generally did as they prayed.] and their attitudes [Called wrath or anger and doubt here.] were to never be divisive.

What I've done in this interpretation of this verse is an attempt to be faithful to the language or text, while being knowledgeable of the history, and all the while let the context be involved in getting to what Paul meant when he wrote it under inspiration. This will allow the Holy Spirit to make clear its original meaning and, by way of application, any meaning to my own life and time.

I will say parenthetically here that the above words are the reason for the view of 1 Timothy 2:12 that I now hold to instead of the one I once held to and which many of my friends disagree with me about. I'll address that at another time

So, honestly, there may be several different levels at which we see truth being presented in the bible that become clear as one navigates the pages of scripture. Those are, as someone has said.....

Obsolete situations---These would be guiding principles or commands which address specific situations and there is generally no timeless principle to transfer. [Such as Israel told to take a specified number of paces outside the camp to defecate.]

Normal patterns---These are principles that can be seen because because of language that was normal for them but do speak to us by example in some fashion about some issue. [As shown in the 1 Timothy 2:8 verse.] In these places the timeless principle is really an example about something generally.

Universal Principles---These are principles or truths that are fundamental and found everywhere in scripture. They may not even be specific commands, but, because they are seen as healthy for relationships, for example, such as going to a person who has hurt you instead of running them down to someone else, those principles become part of your belief system that guides your life. They impact your behavior greatly

Moral Absolutes---These are timeless commands that apply to all situations and times. [Such as "Thou shalt not commit adultery."] Jesus was free as God to deepen some of those, and He did, saying if we look with lust we are already adulterers, and our obedience is to His final say or word about ANY timeless command.

My trust is that this lengthy and often complicated writing will ultimately bring some help to those who are serious about the study of the bible and hearing and obeying the Lord. It is a given that, while I've been addressing what we are responsible and wise to do in study and research, there is a sense in which the very nature of the scriptures do not allow us to understand them at all apart from the person and work of the HOLY SPIRIT.

The bible is after all a supernatural book written in a supernatural fashion, in its original manuscripts, for a supernaturally born again group of people. That is the very core of the reason many people will NEVER understand it. But when that new birth experience has come and understanding does follow, slow though it may be, and never complete, it is adequate for guidance for the living of life in relationship to God and others. I trust you will enjoy the study of the library of books we call the bible for the rest of your life.

Paul B.