Today’s mainstream culture assumes that people attracted to the same sex are born that way because the same sex attraction is something that comes naturally to them. They didn’t choose it, they didn’t will it, they didn’t ask for it. It has just always been there. And that’s been my personal experience as a same-sex-attracted person.
This way of thinking isn’t derived from facts based on anything biological or scientific, though; it’s a theory rooted in logic. The logic goes something like this: “As long as I can remember I’ve felt this way, and I never made a conscious decision to choose to feel this way, so it must be true that I was born this way.”
Honestly, I don’t think that’s super irrational. It kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? Those of us with inclinations and drawings toward certain behaviors, like eating too much, temper tantrums, laziness, anger and depression, think that we were “born” with these inclinations. We know that these things just come naturally to us and we know that we don’t choose what comes naturally to us. We choose to eat too much or fly off the handle, most definitely, but the drawings inside of us toward those things aren’t drawings that we conjure up into existence. They’re just there. Again, what we choose to do with them is up to us. Behavior is a choice. So are gay people born with natural-to-them inclinations to be attracted to the same sex?
Well, are angry and hateful people born with inclinations to anger? Are gluttonous people born with inclinations to overeat? Are depressed people born with inclinations to swing low? The short, incomplete answer to these questions is yes. But these realities sit under the shadow of a much bigger born-this-way reality, and that is this: we are born in sin.
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Our inclinations to sexual deviancy, big-mac buffets and temper tantrums are all evidences or symptoms of a much deeper issue. We are sinners — corrupt, scarred, broken sinners — by nature. We come into this world not pure, but stained by sin with hearts that are in opposition to God and therefore in opposition to good. And because of that, evil comes as natural to us as scales do to a fish.
Of course, there is an element of innocence to us when we are born into this world in the sense that we haven’t actually committed any personal transgressions. But the problem is that our First Parents did commit a personal transgression, and that transgression has had massive consequences on all of their offspring – all of us. We are born into the world plagued with the impurity of sin; sin inherited, as I talk about often, from Adam and Eve.
But most people view Adam and Eve and the eating of the forbidden fruit as a fictitious children’s story. Please, reader, pull yourself out of that way of thinking and know with certainty that this account in Genesis 3 is a real account of real events that really happened in the reality that we live in. Reality itself, apart from the Scriptures, points us to this truth.
Ever thought to yourself, “Why the terrible twos?” I mean, really… why? Why is it true that every single child, once gaining the abilities to move themselves around and communicate a little bit, uses those abilities to wreak absolute havoc on everyone around them? They hit others, bite others, steal from others, refuse to share with others, throw themselves on the floor in convulsions when they are told no, lie to their parents, and the list could go on and on. They didn’t learn this from anyone. Their parents didn’t teach it to them. Their parents spend all of their time trying to teach it out of them! So, right alongside the teaching of the Scriptures, our children teach us that we come into this world with a bent toward evil, not toward good.
I’m not going to pretend that the Bible’s teaching on original sin/the sinful nature isn’t hard for people to accept. It has been hard for me to accept. I have struggled on and off with grasping how it is just of God to allow me, who did not eat from that tree, to be plagued by the consequences of the ones who did. Why must I face consequences for what someone else did? I know my perception of fairness and justice is marred by my sin and that I shouldn’t trust it, but sometimes I just can’t help it.
There are two things that have been helpful for me to think about as I’ve grappled to accept the Bible’s teaching of original/imputed sin.
God is perfectly righteous in all that He does: God is completely righteous and just in everything that He does. And He is infinite in wisdom and knowledge. Who am I to question the way He runs the universe? After a lot of prayer and a lot of time searching and thinking on the Scriptures, I have come to embrace the fact that if God has designed the world to function in such a way that our First Father, Adam, would represent all of His descendants in as far as how they would respond to God’s command to obey, then God has designed the world to function in the best way possible. God is good, not evil. God is kind, not manipulative. If it would have been better for all of us to individually represent ourselves at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, He would have designed it to be that way. Because of who God is — perfectly righteous in all that He does — we can trust that Adam represented each and every one us perfectly, and that the way it all went down was the best possible way for it all to go down.
We aren’t victims: We should not view ourselves as “victims” of Adam’s rebellion – we should absolutely not. A victim mentality is far from what the Scriptures teach us about how we should view our sin. We should view ourselves as participants in Adam’s rebellion. The Bible loudly and clearly proclaims that we are all responsible for our own sins. We have inherited a sinful nature from our First Parents, yes, but this sin nature does not incline us in a way in which we do not want it to. We do not desire sinful things against our own will. Apart from the working of the Spirit in us through Christ, we never, ever sin against our own will. We are all willing and active participants in Adam’s rebellion against God. We are sinners by nature, yes, but we are also sinners by choice and if we end up in hell, we end up in hell because of our own decisive and willful rebellion against God. We are guilty; individually guilty.
Adam and Eve are our Father and Mother. We are their children. We are just as connected to them as we are to our immediate moms and dads. If we don’t see this rightly, we won’t see anything else rightly — including the gospel. Salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ alone only makes sense when we see ourselves as completely dead in Adam, with no ability to bring ourselves to life. Our race needs a different Head. Humanity needs a different Representative. We need a Savior to pluck us out from our corporate identity with Adam and credit a perfect righteousness to our account. And thankfully, that’s exactly what we have in Jesus.
There’s a great 5 part sermon series on the Desiring God website about all of this. “Adam, Christ and Justification” — Here is the first part.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.