During a recent open forum, someone in the audience asked me this sincere yet provocative question: “I’ve heard people say that homosexuality and transgenderism are sins. I don’t know if they’re sins or not. But if they are sins, did God make a mistake in creating homosexuals or transgender people?”
It’s the kind of question that gives one pause, does it not? It’s laced with so many implications stretching from creation to human sexuality to morality and up to God’s very nature. The question may imply that the Bible is incoherent since it claims God doesn’t make mistakes, yet he creates people with “mistaken” gender identities and sexual attractions and then condemns them for his mistakes. Perhaps another implication is that we can let God off the hook by reinterpreting the Bible to affirm such experiences. After all, if we were to say that someone who experiences gender dysphoria or considers themselves transgender or homosexual is sinful and thus God’s mistake, we would have to say that the whole world is God’s mistake. Since that’s not the case, such experiences must be biblically justifiable.
For the sake of discussion only, let’s suppose that a person is born with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. Would that mean that God made a mistake in creating that person? The point I hope to defend is this: God hasn’t made mistakes in creating any of us, yet it is still coherent for God to hold us to the biblical ethic of limiting sexuality to one man and one woman within the bonds of marriage.
According to the Bible, two realities of the human condition confront us. We are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27), yet we are mired in a sinful condition (Ps. 51:5). So, in a very real sense, we’re all “born that way.” We’re all inherently and objectively valuable yet broken in every way there is to be broken. I’m not broken in some ways — I’m broken in every way. And so are you.
How our brokenness is expressed — whether it’s through sexuality, identity, morality or something else — is a matter of wading through each individual’s circumstances.
Regardless, we’re all born that way in the sense that we use our free will to go our own way and give full expression to every disposition. God wasn’t mistaken in giving us free will. We have been in error in the way we wield it.
God initially created humanity morally innocent but not morally perfect. Consider the Bible’s depiction of the first humans. Adam and Eve lived in a garden that supplied more than what they needed. They communed with that garden’s Creator. Yet God endowed them with the freedom to reject that abiding bliss. He gave them but one command: do not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In their initial innocence, they obeyed that command for some time. But over time, Adam and Eve reinterpreted and eventually misstated God’s words. When the serpent asked Adam and Eve, “Did God really say you shouldn’t eat this?” They responded by overstating God’s command beyond eating the fruit to not even touching it (Gen. 3:3). By embellishing God’s command, Adam and Eve sought to usurp the divine. The result is the broken world we inhabit to this day.
Today’s post-truth culture is the elevation of personal preferences over objective truth. This is the fruit of a poisoned tree we planted in the original garden. The truth was that God created Adam and Eve to be with Him. But they preferred to be Him. The first two people on earth were post-truth people. We inherited not only their post-truth penchant for autonomy but also the resultant broken world. Adam and Eve made a bad choice amid a garden of bliss. How much more do we make similarly bad choices amid a garden of woe? In this sense, we’re all “born that way.”
And yet God has made every effort to bring us back from that cascading brokenness by sending his One-and-Only Son to be broken for us, to pay the debt for what we’ve freely done to ourselves and our world. That is a uniquely Christian truth.
Embracing that truth doesn’t automatically remove or change our broken desires. Rather, abiding in God’s grace empowers us to resist satisfying those desires with ever greater success (Gal. 5:16). God’s glory — and our blessing — is that he did not leave us to our broken mess. Every other worldview consigns us to the hopeless task of fixing ourselves. But in sending Jesus, God enters our brokenness — mine and yours — to relieve us of the condemnation it would rightly deserve. God doesn’t condemn us for brokenness he created. Rather, we have taken our God-given free will and used it to shatter our initially innocent world. But God saves us even from brokenness of our own choosing. A fuller understanding of our moral agency and God’s mercy resolves any perceived incoherence of the Christian message. While the “mistakes” have been ours, our redemption is from God. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). That message is coherent and good news for those who are “born that way.” And that’s all of us.
Abdu Murray offers the credibility of the gospel message as a speaker and writer with Embrace the Truth. He has written several books, including Saving Truth, Grand Central Question, Apocalypse Later, and his latest, More than a White Man’s Religion. For most of his life, Abdu was a proud Muslim until a nine-year historical, philosophical, theological, and scientific investigation pointed him to the Christian faith.
Abdu has spoken to diverse international audiences and has participated in debates and dialogues across the globe. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. Abdu lives in the Detroit area with his wife and their three children.