Tuesday, December 13, 2016

God Made Me This Way

Thomas Nelson publishes a board book promoted on Amazon with this little blurb:

From a monkey’s swing to a zebra’s stripes, God made all of us just the way we are!

Using adorable animals, this book from Make Believe Ideas explores how fearfully and wonderfully God has made all of His creations. Parents and grandparents will be able to show little ones that God made them just the way they are for a purpose.”

When intended to encourage small children to be thankful for the divine ingenuity of their design, the phrase “God made me the way I am” is quite harmless and even helpful.

On the other hand, when I hear it from adults as an excuse for sin, I cringe.

Still Looking for That Elusive Gay Gene

It’s been more than two decades since the media coined the term “gay gene”, and I’ve still yet to see conclusive (or even strongly suggestive) evidence that sexual preference is genetically determined.

As The Atlantic aptly put it in this article last year, “No, Scientists Have Not Found the Gay Gene”. Current conventional wisdom says “a combination of genetic, hormonal, and social factors determine sexual orientation”. The latter may be most significant: all the gays I’ve interacted with over the years have had unusual home situations or traumatic experiences in their history that seem far more likely to be the source of their inclinations than DNA.

Nurture trumping nature, in this instance. Perhaps.

Correlation and Causation

What scientists have found are possible connections (in the range of 70% predictable) between brain chemistry and behavior. But such connections are very much subject to interpretation. Objective researchers always add the caution that where such relationships appear to exist, correlation is not causation.

So the investigation continues, though there are, as might be expected, numerous voices insisting the matter is certain and nothing more needs to be said.

Factors More Influential Than Biology

On the other side of the argument is Dr. Paul McHugh, the Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, who has studied sexuality for 40 years. He says categorically, “There is no gay gene.”

McHugh continues:
“There are factors more influential than biology. If you are a man and you grow up in a rural environment, you are four times less likely to have homosexual relationships than if you grow up in a metropolitan area. That’s not left-handedness.

If you are a lesbian, you are much more likely to be college-educated. That’s not something that happens at conception.

My point is that we now know that the environment is very important.”
Another thing we now know is that few in the media are interested in reporting facts that contradict the popular narrative.

Gay for Life … Or Not

It is also not at all clear that every set of existing human desires persists a lifetime, and certainly not at the same intensity, which tends to suggest that some factor (or factors) other than genetics is likely in play.

For example, I have heard of more than one person who was entirely convinced they were gay and later changed their minds. The formerly-lesbian leader of the pro-gay club at the school where a friend works is now a soccer mom, married to a very nice, gentle, computer programming male. A boy who worried he had AIDS from a same-sex relationship subsequently met the right girl and went straight.

Anecdotal, I know. And the loud-n-proud crowd will tell you these are exceptions.

But research is showing that teens originally identifying as bisexual or homosexual frequently change their minds later on. In one study, almost 2/3 of the respondents changed labels and sexual behaviours over the course of a decade. It doesn’t seem as if their desires are genetically hard-coded at all. The gay lobby would like us to believe they are, but if wishes were horses ... you know the rest.

In short, I don’t think Christians need to reflexively or defensively accept the world’s frame on the subject of same-sex desire just because so many people keep telling us “It’s how I’m made”. I certainly don’t buy it, and there simply isn’t strong enough evidence currently available to warrant dogmatism from that side of the argument.

A Christian Take on Genetic Impulses

Even if it turns out that the basis for same-sex attraction is partly or entirely genetic, that would tell the Christian nothing whatsoever about either (i) God’s personal involvement in that particular predisposition, or (ii) how those who experience such desires ought to respond to them.

Creation is fallen, and ALL our genetic impulses have to be viewed cautiously. We live in a world in which many of us are genetically damaged in one way or another. People are born susceptible to alcoholism, violent anger, gambling and even criminality. Yet none of these are excused with a cheery, “God made all of us just the way we are!”

From the Beginning of Creation

The line “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” has been so overused that it retains as little rhetorical heft as the average cheesy Christian cliché. But it encapsulates a scriptural truth that no believer can afford to overlook. God made woman to complement man. In both Matthew and Mark, when the Lord Jesus takes up the matter of becoming “one flesh”, he begins with this statement: “From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’ ”. That’s his starting point. It’s an imperfect, fallen world, and heterosexual marriages fail regularly when one or both parties depart from God’s order, but it is only by starting with one male and one female that we have any chance of finding marital unity, harmony and companionship in this life. A feminized male simply cannot fill the role for which women were specifically designed by the Creator. He is physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually unsuited to such a task.

To say “God made me this way” about same-sex attraction is to deny a truth found in both Genesis and the gospels, a truth confirmed by the Lord Jesus.

Zebra’s stripes? Sure. Sin? Not so much.

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