The pathway from Biblical principles to applications is always a murky one. I can't find the quote right now, but a while back, David Doran said something like, "I can accept that another believer will apply a principle differently than I do, until he applies it so differently as to prove that he doesn't believe the principle at all."
That's the whole point, IMO, of the "Pregnant and 18" thread. Two principles apply:
- There should be consequences, discipline, punishment for sin.
- Believers should be encouraged tor repent. And they should be forgiven and restored to fellowship.
I fully believe that each side of the "Pregnant and 18" debate believe in both of those principles. What it comes down to is that they apply them differently.
However, at some point, as Doran said, somebody else's application of those principles is SO different from mine that I say, "I don't think you really believe in restoration," or, "I think you are OVER-applying punishment.
In either case, each side brings scripture to bear. One is thinking, "I need point out the passages about the appropriateness of punishment, because this other guys obviously doesn't believe in punsihment." The other replies, "Yes, I already know about that. Obviously he hasn't seen these passages on restoration!!"
Whenever we're judging or belittling one another about applications, the tendency is to believe that our brother "doesn't believe the principle at all." He must not - otherwise he would apply it like I do!