Wow. Unanimity. What's that?!
I'm actually a little surprised that everyone agrees that "the answers" are not all in scripture. It's as if I'd figured out that the Earth is round ... yesterday. Being me, I'd let everyone know of my discovery by making some bold statement about how I was willing to sail past the sunset, confident that I'd return alive. Everyone else would look up from their newspapers and say, "Yeah. It'd be fun to sail past China and under the two great capes, Horn and Good Hope. Enjoy your trip!"
Fortunately, here in blog land, none of you could see my jaw drop. :-)
Well, and I'm still not used to people agreeing with me about much of anything. :-D
I was raised amongst three groups of Christians, all of whom shared basic doctrines and some theological differences, but all of whom were unanimously committed to scripture as the sole, final, absolute, complete, sufficient source for every question of life. Any question more complex than how to get to Arby's could be answered directly, completely and unambiguously from scripture.
Did I mention that my denominational background is, "Damentalist?"
And did I explain that Damentalism is what's left after you take the fun out of fundamentalism?
My Damentalist elders would have had a scriptural answer to my question, "How could I know not to marry a girl in 10 days." They'd have pulled something out of the scriptures (no, not those other places) about many counselors making for safe plans and the Lord not being the author of confusion and haste making waste (some of them would occasionally confuse Ben Franklin with Solomon), and assure me (and themselves) that had I only been firmly grounded in scripture I'd not have made a Gordian Tangle of my life.
Here's the problem, though. The kid sitting next to me would spend 12 years engaged to some poor woman, marry her, and divorce in two years, and they've have found every bit as strong scriptural arguments against what he did. And some other joker would call responsibly on a young lady, court her for 6 months, be engaged for 12 months and 3 days, and marry her with her father's blessing and muddle his life, and they'd have every bit as strong scriptural arguments against what he did.
The common factor is that their understanding of scripture's perfect guidance is clearest after-the-fact. They're like gypsies gazing into their crystal ball pronouncing the future as dim, until the dust settles and the weeping's begun. And suddenly, their wisdom doesn't taste like honey in my mouth any more. I just wish it were sweet in my belly.
So, as I look at the possibility that wisdom is something we learn, more like riding a bicycle than being born again, it resonates well against my experience. You all obviously agree with that intuition, and I think scripture would support us together.
Have you thought about the tremendous burden and responsibility that puts on us all?
Hey! Being a Damentalist was easy. As long as I could not think of any scripture to stop me, or at least could plausibly explain it away, I could charge forward with my life like a rhonicerous on the scent of tasty daisies. I could examine the scriptures with an open heart, and whatever it they did not proscribe was fair game.
I could look at David snatching up Abigail and think 10 days was a LONGGGGG courtship. I could even be proud and thankful that I didn't have to collect the foreskins of 200 Cajuns as a dowry for Michal (and I didn't have to worry about the whole dying while trying thing, either. Those Cajuns can be mighty opinionated about their foreskins, I've heard.) I could even look at a handful of brothers maturing beyond the message of John the Baptist the very first time they heard Christ presented by Paul, and figure it was a wise thing to follow a man who brought a higher gospel.
The bible is full of stories of short courtships, immediate changes of doctrine, and droppings of everything to follow the leading of God.
Haste is commended by scripture over and over and over, if you're looking for that sort of thing. And my personality is always looking for a good reason to make haste. Always. Always. I'll even settle for silence on the subject that just lets me make my haste with a low-humming conscience. It doesn't strictly have to "quiet" for me.
But if the scripture is silent on some things, then I need to be cautious. I need to seek wisdom. I need to be sure I'm not being an idiot. Or simple. Or even a fool. If the scripture proscribes only those things that might show me to be evil, but leaves unmentioned some things that might show me to be simple or a fool, then I need to grow up.
It's a shame to have to learn that at 44, but I'm afraid I'll learn it again at 54, and again at 64. If the Lord is kind to burn this lesson into my memory through the fires of self-imposed experience, then maybe I'll only have to learn it this one last (major) time.
And I'll lay one more responsibility at my feet, and this one may fall at yours, too. As the church, as one of the three that agree on Earth (thank you, Missy!), I have a responsibility to those I see being foolish as I was foolish. I have a responsibility to turn my hard-earned wisdom into their narrow escape. And when I say responsibility, I mean that the church needs her holders of wisdom to step forward for those who need them. I mean that the Lord needs those who have received wisdom at His hands to pass it along to His sheep. I mean that He might hold us responsible for hiding our experiences from each other.
Perhaps the only purpose for my life is to serve as an example to others (http://despair.com/mis24x30prin.html) but I think maybe that's a pretty important thing.