Monday, December 22, 2008

I can't help it because I was born that way.

My own experience and what I have heard from other people has led me to believe that not all people have the same temptations. What is a problem for one may not be for another. One person may be tempted by alcohol while another has no desire at all. Another may have a continuing battle with immoral thoughts while his friend rarely battles this. Are such people free from responsibility because they were "made" that way?
"Most researchers are quick to point out that the biologically oriented studies suggest that genetics can influence people, and with this Scripture has no dispute. People can be physiologically disposed to enjoying a particular drug, food, activity, or physical experience, but there is a categorical difference between being influenced by genetics and being determined by it. Possible physiological tendencies do not mean that self-control is impossible or that personal responsibility is diminished. They simply mean that some people must be more vigilant in situations where than sin can be easily provoked."

Edward T. Welch, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, (Phillipsburg NJ: P&R Publishing, 2001), 27-8.
It would be easier to blame my lack of self-control on my physical makeup, culture, or upbringing, but the Bible doesn't allow for this. Each individual is commanded to live his life under the control of the Holy Spirit. With his help, a believer can control himself; without him he will ultimately fail.
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Galatians 5:16-26

2 comments:

Yonah said...

Keep in mind, that while not all genes are deterministic, some are.

And even in cases where they aren't, they still affect early developmental biology to the point where they are, effectively, deterministic.

We're pretty complex beings, so it's very hard to isolate a single gene or root cause for anything, being alcoholism or homosexuality or whatever.

Andy Rupert said...

Yonah, I think you are missing the point of the article. Being someone who is easily tempted with homosexulity and drunkenness doesn't take away the responsibility to abstain. These (as well as any other rebellion against God's commands) are considered sin by God (Gal. 5:19-21).

And as James said in the aforementioned Scripture passage, we can't point our fingers at God and blame him for our failures. There are no excuses for sin. We will all be held accountable for our own choices whether we feel we can't stop or not. This is why each of us needs the new birth (John 3; 2 Cor. 5:17) and then afterward need to "walk in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:16-26).