And so were you.
I’ve never understood why many of my fellow believers apparently reflexively argue with those who say that they were born with an inclination that my friends view as immoral. Why couldn’t that be the case?
Now, I’ll grant that it’s difficult to imagine particularly sexual orientation being present from birth, since it seems to take some time for any child to develop any sexual orientation whatever. But I’m happy to concede to my (e.g.) gay friends that they have felt inclined toward same-sex attraction from their earliest memories.
Two reasons for that. In reverse order of importance.
No, I haven’t wrestled with same-sex attraction, and I’ve never felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body. But from my earliest days, I’ve known that there was something seriously wrong with me.
My older sisters could tell you that I was a difficult child. Loud, obnoxious, without self-discipline, generally a pain in various parts of the anatomy. I drove them to tears, more than once.
And here’s the thing. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to be good. I wanted to add to the joy rather than the misery of whatever the event was. I wanted, as my mother would often admonish me, to “be a help, and not a hindrance.” Every year, right after getting a new crop of school supplies, I would tell myself that this year I was going to be good.
But I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. Things would just pop out of my mouth, and I would see the hurt on the face of a loved one, or the frustration on the face of a teacher, and I would feel my own frustration with myself rise.
I couldn’t do the good that I could aspire to.
I was born that way.
Not surprisingly, the Scripture endorses my experience. It tells me that I shouldn’t be surprised by what I find in my heart.
- It tells me that everyone is a sinner (Rom 3.23).
- It tells me that all of us start out as sinners, from the very beginning; it’s nature, not nurture (Ps 58.3). My children could lie (with their expressions) before they could speak, and so could I.
- It tells me that even Paul the Apostle felt the great internal double-mindedness that I do (Rom 7).
But the Scripture tells me something that my experience doesn’t.
It tells me that there’s a solution.
- The solution is not in good intentions. Peter denied Jesus even though he intended not to (Mat 26.33).
- It’s not in gritting my teeth and trying harder. Paul demonstrates that (Rom 7).
The solution is not in me at all. I’m bereft.
The solution is in Christ. My righteous Father, the Scripture tells me, has placed my voluminous sin on His righteous Son: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isa 53.6).
How does that happen? By faith.
What does that mean?
I believe in Christ; I trust the effectiveness of his action on my behalf, and I trust that he will forgive me as he has promised. Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 5.1).
I was born that way. But I’m forgiven. None of that garbage counts against me. “My sin … is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more!”
And, remarkably, that’s not the end of the story.
The Scripture tells me 3 more really encouraging things, even as my struggle with my dark heart continues.
- God has not only forgiven my sin debt, but he has deposited in my account all the righteousness of Christ himself (2 Cor 5.21). He sees me as not just sinless, but the producer of all kinds of good. He sees me through Christ-colored glasses.
- God has placed in me his Holy Spirit, who enables me to do better; as a believer, I now have the ability, if I will but use it, to do those things that I aspire to (Rom 6). I don’t have to lose anymore. He who lives in me is stronger than my own evil impulses (1 Jn 4.4). I’m still struggling, as is everyone I know; but we have strength that we weren’t born with, and that’s very good news.
- The present struggle isn’t going to last forever; my current frustration is temporary. The day is coming when God, as he promises, will make me like his Son (1 Jn 3.2). There really is light—great light—at the end of this very dark tunnel.
Yes, I was born that way. And so were you. And there is not only some amorphous “hope,” but there is an answer. A solution.