Bob Tamasy: The ‘Born That Way’ Dilemma

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Imagine a young man talking with his fianceé as the wedding day approaches and informing her, “Hey, babe, I really love you, and I don’t want you to hear this the wrong way, but there’s something you need to know. Every night I spend about an hour looking at pornography online. I hope you’re okay with that – it’s something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. Guess I was just born that way.”

How do you think the bride-to-be should respond?

Or consider a woman caught in an adulterous affair outside of her marriage. Her husband, who’s been completely faithful to her, feels devastated. Remorsefully, the wife looks at her husband and says, “Honey, please don’t take this personally. I love you, but I’ve never been a one-man kind of woman. I think our marriage is great, but sometimes, you know, I enjoy the company of other men. Sorry, but I suppose I was just born that way.”

Does that make sense?

We could think of other scenarios: A compulsive gossip; someone given to uncontrollable fits of anger; a person consumed with jealousy over the professional success of coworkers; an individual caught up with envy (what the Bible calls “coveting”) over a friend’s much bigger, far more expensive house or luxury car; an able-bodied man with no initiative who refuses to seek a job; someone whose pattern of dishonesty makes it virtually impossible to know if or when he’s telling the truth.

Should we give any of them a pass when they offer the excuse, “I was born that way”?

Frankly, every one of us could use that rationale to explain objectionable behavior. After all, the Bible says, Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). This doesn’t mean the sexual act that resulted in conception was wrong. It’s stating just as parents pass along genetic heredity to their children, resulting in specific physical characteristics and traits, from the beginning of time mankind also has passed on the “sin gene” from generation to generation.

Any parent knows you don’t have to teach children to become selfish. They are born that way.

Certain people are predisposed toward diseases like cancer, heart disease, obesity or alcoholism. While others are never troubled by such problems, these individuals must deal with them for much of their lives. Perhaps it’s true they were “born that way.” Should we therefore refuse to offer help or support in their desire to overcome these besetting challenges?

The vast majority of men find themselves confronting lustful thoughts, often sparked by a casual glance. They see an attractive woman, whether in a mall, on a beach, or even in church, and suddenly find themselves entertaining inappropriate thoughts about that person. Since most men are “born this way,” prone to visual provocation, does this mean it’s to be approved of, condoned, even applauded?

We could make similar observations about women, but the point is when it comes to sin – a word the Bible often uses, and which many in society would like to eradicate – we all have been “born that way” in one respect or another. As Romans 3:10 declares, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” Later the Bible asserts, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Being unique, we all have our own assortment of pet sins and weaknesses. Our spiritual predisposition, from birth, is toward spiritual brokenness in one respect or another. So it troubles us to read passages like Philippians 2:3-4 that admonish, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than ourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” We want to respond, “Are you kidding me? If we don’t look out for ourselves, our own best interests, who will? Besides, I can’t help it.”

The fact is, areas of sin that afflict each of us – behaviors we’d like to shrug off and defend with, “I was born that way” – often are beyond our capacity to change. Old habits die hard, as the saying goes. But the good news, it’s not up to us alone to make the changes.

Jesus told His followers, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), and the apostle Paul – who understood human struggles as well as any – wrote with confidence, “I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

So whatever it is we’re wrestling with, seemingly overwhelming problems that just won’t go away, there’s hope. Hope in the life-changing, transforming power of Jesus Christ. The cliché might sound trite, but that doesn’t make it untrue. Sometimes it just requires willingness to “let go – and let God.”

---

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.


Rivermont Presbyterian Presents "Invitation To A Miracle" Christmas Cantata Dec. 18

The Chancel Choir of Rivermont Presbyterian Church, 3319 Hixson Pike, will present the Christmas cantata "Invitation to a Miracle" on Sunday, Dec. 18 at the 11 a.m. service. The service will feature the Chancel Choir and seasonal singers, as well as many guest musicians. "Come prepare your heart for the birth of the Christ-child in word and song," officials said.   ... (click for more)

Union Gospel Mission Has Community Christmas Dinner Dec. 23

The Union Gospel Mission of Chattanooga will host its Annual Community Christmas Dinner on Friday, Dec. 23, from 12-2 p.m. (or until the food runs out.) The event will be held at Miller Park, downtown Chattanooga, across from the main Post Office.  The Union Gospel Mission will be providing a free Christmas meal consisting of turkey, ham, potatoes, green beans, corn, ... (click for more)

County Schools Prepare To Set Priorities For Next Round Of School Building Funding

County school board members are gearing up to set priorities for the next round of new school construction in Hamilton County. Lee McDade, assistant superintendent, said officials may know by the spring how much money will be available to build new schools or add on to existing ones - or do a combination of both. Board member Rhonda Thurman said a proposal to build a new Chattanooga ... (click for more)

New Walker County Commissioner Whitfield To Move Public Meetings To Evenings And To Larger Venue; Will Also Be Listening Sessions

Walker County Sole Commissioner-Elect Shannon Whitfield said there will be a new arrangement for holding of public commissioner sessions when he takes place at the start of January. Current Commissioner Bebe Heiskell has held Thursday meetings at 3:30 p.m. from time to time in a conference room at her office near the Walker County Courthouse in LaFayette. Mr. Whitfield said those ... (click for more)

Vehicle Emissions Testing Causes More Pollution Than It Prevents - And Response

While a noble cause to make sure vehicles are operating efficiently with the minimum amount of pollutants, a simple analysis makes it somewhat evident the VET program in Chattanooga causes more pollution that it prevents.  Though I don't know how many vehicles are tested on an annual basis, if you assume an average round trip of 10 miles to the nearest testing station (five ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Senseless Divide

If I could change one thing about the schools in Chattanooga, my wish would be that everybody could become good friends. I’m talking about the private schools versus the public schools. The rancor is so bad we hardly ever play in sports anymore and what the loathsome TSSAA has done in recent years to the out-numbered private schools is sinful. My dream would be that there would ... (click for more)