Friday, October 17, 2008

"God Made Me This Way" as an Argument in Christian Ethics

John Meunier examines a particular approach in the homosexuality debate and finds it wanting:

I’m not arguing for exclusion, but I’m interested in how this conversation can be formed in a way that does not fall back on “God made me this way.”


Because of all the reasons above. “This is the way I am” arguments can be used by anyone to justify virtually any behavior. As a faith that teaches we must be reborn to come into a right relationship with God, we teach everyone that the way they were born is not fully the way God wants them to be.

If “God made me this way” becomes the doctrine of the church, then don’t we have to pitch out holiness entirely?


My problem with both arguments is what happens when a teenage boy who wants to have casual sex with five different girls uses them to justify his feelings. Or what happens when the church member who drives spends his whole life in a mad pursuit of wealth tries to use them to explain his needs?


Anonymous said...

As Paul said, "No man is worthy- no, not one."

God made me this way, and with his help, I can be better than that.

John Wilks said...

My wife has Cerebral Palsy. She walks with a limp and endures nightly leg cramps If not for steel pins in her legs and surgically reconstructed hamstrings, she might not walk at all. She trips and falls often. She cannot drive a car and is dependant on others for transportation. The way she was born has been a constant source of pain in her life- physical and emotional.

Anyone who uses the "God made me this way so it's OK" argument must be willing to look my wife in the eye and tell her that God intended her to suffer from birth.

As Christians, we learn from our Bible a concept called the Fall. It teaches us that we're all broken. This is not God's design. It is a consequence of human rebellion. That brokenness can manifest itself in a great many ways. It wrecks our bodies with sickness and destroys our souls by the constant desrie for sinful self-indulgence by perverting the created order. Every single one of us bears this brokeness within us. None go untouched.

Being born with any medical condition or any preference for sinful things is not a sign that God endorses out status.

No- these things are the proof that we need redemption and healing.

God often delivers us of our brokenness. Other times, God can use our brokenness as a means to display His power and providence.

In any event, it is folly and cruelty to tell anyone born into bondage that God intends it so. There is no grace in any such ethical argument. It is an untolerable heresy which invites people to enshrine our bondage as a great gift. It is an invitation to neglect the message of the Cross, that Jesus suffers with us and for us that we might be free.

Let no one embrace their chains.

Anonymous said...

"God made me this way" is why the Methodist statement that all people have sacred worth is correct. Everyone is a child of God. However, where we part company with the RMN is where the UMC says "homosexual practices are incompatible with Christian teaching". All of us are born with a "bent to sinning", just different ones. If you check the internet you can find articles that predisposition to homosexuality, violence alcoholism and even kleptomania have a genetic component. That doesn't excuse actually engaging in those behaviors. Accepting the salvation Christ offers enables us to turn from sinful behavior, since with God "all things are possible". You won't become a non-homosexual, non-alcoholic or a non-kleptomaniac, but you can stop engaging in those behaviors. The church must love the sinner, but hate the sin. Have we done as good a job as we could on welcoming the sinner? Probably not. That doesn't mean we have to accept the behavior.
John, I'm sorry to hear about your wife. I hope she will find peace. You are correct. God did not intend for your wife to have cerebal palsey. However as a rest of the fall, God's perfect will is no longer being done on Earth. (That's why Jesus asks us to pray "ty will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven"). Adam's sin and our continuing sin causes bad consequences on Earth. All sin has bad results and one of the real tragedies of sin is that the bad result often falls on someone besides the one who commits it. It is the continuing sins of all of the world that cause bad things like your wife's disease, the 2006 tsunami and the 1755 Lisbon quake.

Ivan walters

Michael said...

John Wilks,

Yours has to be the most compelling testimony I've ever read! I've often struggled with the "God don't make junk" argument especially since I'm no psychologist, but I had never considered those such as your dear wife. Thank you for a new perspective.

Keith Taylor said...

A most excellent reply and testimony, John Wilks. Thanks so much for putting that up.

Rev. Jeremy Smith said...

I disagree. "I was made this way" is an acceptable argument because Christianity has not yet fully accepted sexual orientation as innate and thus continue to discriminate.

Consider our history, including biblical history. People with mental illness were thought to have demons. People who are physically challenged are so because of "the sins of the parents." It wasn't until Christians realized that there are scientific reasons that people are different that they started treating "the other" as fully human beings (and we still struggle with it!).

Today, I don't have to say "God made me Caucasian" because all you have to do is look at my parents for why I'm Caucasian. For race, gender, and ability, Christians have agreed that they should not be discriminated against. But some swaths of Christendom are not there yet with sexual identity; thus, emphasizing that people who are gay are born that way is an acceptable line of discourse until it is commonly accepted.

It is true that it is more compelling to say that discrimination and exclusion are never acceptable behaviors for treating fellow human beings. We have gotten there with external attributes, such as gender, race, and ability. We haven't gotten there yet with sexual orientation.

John said...

I don't agree with the notion that God makes us fallen or hurting, but that this is the inevitable consequence of the Fall. We may be born with woundedness, such as homosexual desire, but the blame should not go to God.

John Wilks wrote:

Let no one embrace their chains.

What a magnificent declaration! Thank you for sharing, John.

Larry B said...

I generally agree with John Meunier on his perspective about the statement "God made me this way" and would add the notion that generally when people use this statement to justify their position, they are really intending to say that "God wants me this way".

John Wilks provided the excellent counter-example of how the statement really only makes sense if you view it from how I believe people intend the statement when they use it.

Reverend Smith's post is indicative of how I believe the homosexual community uses the argument, in that they really intend to say "God wants me this way", however they tend to shy away from that direct of an appeal and try to use a more innocuous form of "God made me that way". Reverend Smith's argument relies on their being a value judgement associated with the word "made". When viewed rationally "made" casts no value judgement. Substituting "want" reveals the implicit judgement that Reverend Smith is looking for.

The same notion is used when explaining that science may tell us that homosexuality is "innate". An assumption must be made that and "innate" characteristic is moral. Science doesn't make this judgement, again we have to cast that judgement.

It is entirely conceivable with our advances in genetics that we will be able to identify a mechanism for turning homosexuality on and off. What then?