Genetics, Sin, and the Gospel

There are genetic predispositions to disease. Cancer, among other diseases, runs in families.

If you find out young enough that there is a genetic predisposition to cancer, there are things you can do to stave it off: don’t consume tons of alcohol, don’t smoke, eat right, exercise, etc.

These things are no guarantee, but you would be frowned upon for smoking and drinking if there is a genetic predisposition to cancer. Your doctors and family would all tell you to stop it.

Even when a person gets cancer, what do we tell them? “Oh well, guess you just submit to it and die.”

There may be some who say that, but for the most part, people tell you to “fight it.” Even those who lose to cancer, we celebrate for their courageous fight against it.

We live in a world that increasingly tells us that “sin” is actually just a genetic predisposition.

The classic example, in our faces seemingly every day, is homosexuality. Scientists are trying their hardest to tell us there is a genetic predisposition to homosexuality.

So, for sake of argument, we’ll grant the point.

Is our genetic makeup inherently good? If so, what’s the whole deal with fighting a genetic predisposition to cancer? Is cancer good? Heart disease good? Are doctors the bad people for trying to thwart these genetic things?

I think we can agree that just because something is genetic doesn’t mean it’s good.

So, when it comes to genetic predispositions toward anger, sexual aggression, homosexuality, or any other behavior, could it not also be possible that even if there is a genetic predisposition, couldn’t it be fought? Couldn’t it be staved off by modifying behavior?

Or put it the other way: what if there’s a genetic predisposition to be homophobic! Do you think homophobic people would be told to fight that?!

One thing you’ll notice is that I am linking cancer with homosexuality in this argument. I assure you this is not my doing.

This is the doing of the age we live in. If all behavior and illness is purely genetic, then there is no difference between “bad” behavior and illness.

Our modern culture is encouraging, and in some countries implementing, the abortion of genetically diseased babies. In other words, diseases are becoming morally unacceptable. (This will increase the more governments have control of health care, by the way).

Morality, in the modern world, is based on societal effects, whether my actions hurt others. If I have to pay everyone’s health care, then I get a say in how it is spent. If your MS costs society, we will eventually decide to kill people with MS.

So, our diseases are becoming sins, and our sins are becoming diseases. This is not my opinion, this is what happened in the past and is happening today.

This puts society in weird moral positions. Our current moral landscape looks absolutely ridiculous. Society celebrates Hugh Hefner while firing all the men who acted on what Hefner promoted.

In some areas we are told to fight genetic predispositions, and in others we are told to give in to them. I’m baffled to know which is for when.

Except I’m not.

People want to sin and they want to feel good about their sin. If we conclude “I can’t help it, I was born this way,” then responsibility is gone, sin is no longer a problem, and I can do what I want.

There is a way out of the confusion. God has revealed what morality is. You may be genetically predisposed to certain sins (anger, lust, homosexuality), but by no means does this mean we don’t fight destructive urges.

Jesus Christ told us we must be born again. That in Christ our old nature is crucified with its affections and lusts. There is help through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the flesh with all its “genetic predispositions.”

It remains our only hope.

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