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.


Sunday Is 125th Anniversary Of St. Elmo Presbyterian Church

Rev. Tim Tinsley of First Presbyterian Church on McCallie Ave. will be the guest preacher.  "First Presbyterian gave the seed money to start construction 127 years ago," church officials said. Morning worship is at 10:30 a.m. Anniversary lunch will follow an anniversary photo of everyone in attendance at 12:30 p.m. Everyone is invited to join in the celebration. (click for more)

The Boat Did Float And There Is Hope Is Topic Sunday At Middle Valley Church Of God

Middle Valley Church of God, 1703 Thrasher Pike in Hixson, announces that Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on the topic "The Boat Did Float And There Is Hope" in the 10:30 a.m. service on Sunday.   This sermon is part of a special series of sermons based on the Biblical report of Jesus that the Last Days would be preceded by events like Noah's day.  Pastor McClure ... (click for more)

School Board Unanimously Makes Cuts To Teacher Insurance; Spouses Can Only Stay On If They Have No Other Insurance

The Hamilton County School Board on Thursday night voted to Increase the premium for spouses by $100 - a move officials said would save the schools from $2,040,000 to $3,040,000. Spouses will not continue to be covered if they have insurance available to them on their jobs. School officials said the 1,700 spouses on county school insurance last year had $10 million in claims. ... (click for more)

City Audit Hits Travel Abuses By Top Chattanooga Library Personnel; Report Forwarded To State On Possible Fraud

A report by Internal City Auditor Stan Sewell found travel abuses by top personnel of the Chattanooga Library. The auditor said he found possible instances of fraud and forwarded information to state officials in regard to "reported potential fraudulent activity" by Margaret Backus, Systems Administrator and Nathaniel Hill, Assistant Library Director. The report says, ... (click for more)

Thanks For Making The Southern Brewers Festival A Success

Now that the dust has settled I'd like to thank Chattanooga for supporting the Southern Brewers Festival and making it yet another very successful event.    For those who do not know - the SBF benefits the Chattanooga chapter of Kids on the Block and the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.  As a partner helping the SBF with volunteers, sponsorships and the overall production ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Al Sharpton’s Wise Remarks

I’ll admit I paid little more than scant attention to the Monday funeral of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was shot and killed by police bullets in Ferguson, Mo., after he allegedly was involved in strong-armed robbery. There are too many tawdry details and, in my way of thinking, there is nothing under God’s sun, absolutely nothing, that gives others the right to riot, burn ... (click for more)