One of the more vocal objections voiced by those who oppose living the gospel with same-gender attraction is encapsulated in three words.
Born that way.
The reality is that people are born into unique environments. That’s a given. “Was I born this way?” isn’t really a valuable question because I was born into unique circumstances in the first place.
Along with “Born that way” often comes a supposition: since you or I were born a certain way, that then should influence or direct how we live our lives.
This isn’t a new belief, and is actually pretty common within the world at large, depending on the characteristic addressed. The propagation of monarchies, social classes, poverty, inheritance, citizenship, gender roles, family ties, and dozens of other aspects of society center on the assumption that, with birth and the unique circumstances it provides, comes a set of blessings and responsibilities that are just as unique. Monarchies pass along the crown. Social classes pass along understanding of nuance, habits, and networks of people. Poverty begets poverty. Wealth begets wealth. Men and women have vital roles in society and family life. Families support their own.
Without the structure that comes from “Born that way”—if there were nothing determined by birth—society as we know it would probably fall apart. At least, it would lose the ties that pass from father to son, one generation to the next.
But on the other hand, societies that completely bought into “Born that way” on all levels have been just as dystopian. The concept of reincarnation within some religious orders traditionally emphasized the importance of being born the right way. If you were born into the caste of untouchables, you were destined to live a life far different from those born to the priest caste – disposing of public waste instead of living a life of refinement. And there was no way to change or ever move castes or classes. A major goal of mortality within that frame was to live your life with the goal of being reincarnated into a higher birth.
So, if both extremes result in dystopian societies, the easiest next question is “Which of the characteristics determined at birth can be changed, and which can’t?”
But that’s a misunderstanding as well. Nothing in life is immutable. The blind find ways to see. The lame learn to walk. Autistic kids like me can learn to care about people more than their own worlds. And the American Dream of building your own life has grown into the fabric of societies.
It’s still real.
So the question then is this: “So what?”
If I was born wealthy, what does that mean for me going forward? Did God intend me to live a life of luxury, or to give away all that I have to serve others?
How about if I was born poor? Deaf? Blind? Autistic? Gay?
The easiest answer to that question is to assume that God intended me to follow my inborn feelings… to live exactly the way I was born, or the way I want to inside my head at birth. But life is about change and growth—not stagnation—and claiming that I should simply follow my feelings as birth gave them to me is fundamentally flawed.
If I had simply lived as my bipolar emotions dictated, I’d be dead. Jumped off a bridge or down a set of spiral stairs. If I allowed autism to set my course, I’d live in my own world, oblivious to people on the outside.
A belief that God intended me to not change my feelings would have devastating consequences. Hence why He expects me to change. To “throw off the natural man,” and the resist the carnal, sensual, devilish natures that are a real part of mortality. And that’s the purpose of life – to grow and learn and change and repent—to come closer to God and to follow Him.
And that is why the Lord gives me unique circumstances—same-sex attraction, bipolar, autism, and everything else—because those are the experiences I need in life as stepping stones to build myself and my world. That they are there is real. The malleable part of that reality is what comes next.
If I’m blind, that doesn’t mean God intended me to never learn to read or write or paint or appreciate art or movies. It simply means I’m blind… and that He intended me to live blind for at least this part of my life. If I was born autistic, that doesn’t mean God intended me to never have friends or to ignore the world. It simply means I’m autistic… and that He intended me to live through this for this part of my life. And if I was born with same-gender attraction, that doesn’t mean God intended me to follow my feelings and find a guy, or to never fall in love with a girl and raise a family. It simply means I’m attracted to men.
I know I’m imperfect. I have a long way to go before becoming truly like Christ. But God has something better in store for me… and that’s why I was born into an imperfect world, with an imperfect body and imperfect mind. He wants me—the spirit inside everything else—to have the best chance of being changed and exalted… and that’s exactly why I was born that way.