Sin and choice


One of the great ways to look foolish is to argue a silly point that is irrelevant to your larger thesis. You are likely to be backed into a corner – you do not want to surrender the point for fear of looking like a dolt, your energies are spent far from your thesis, and you look a fool to the rest of the world. Yet this is what happens when Christians argue about whether homosexuality is something a person is born with or whether it is simply a matter of choice. The true issue to be addressed is whether homosexuality is a sin. When Christians are sidetracked, you are likely to end up with Christians looking ignorant.

Choice is a word that goes down hard for both scientist and Christian alike. From the standpoint of science, and ignoring the ravings of the quantum mechanics guys, the world is a deterministic place. Both the development and activity of our brains is deterministic, where future states are the result of past states. And science has not made a lot of progress in the area of consciousness – the idea of “me,” which we cannot argue but exists, something that seems to drive our behavior, and yet something that exists only in the activation of neurons. Christians don’t fare much better with the concept of choice. As we confess every week, “we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves,” and not only that but the seeming choice we have in repentance and confession derive simply from the sovereign choice of God who causes us to be elect or not – we have no say in our belief. The idea of choice, something we know so intimately, is alien to Christian and scientist alike.

At the same time, those who argue with Christians claiming that orientation is fixed at birth also seem to be making a silly point. It seems as if they are trying to say that because a person’s orientation is outside the realm of choice, there is no sin associated with the action. Even for the non-Christian, this argument is easily disproved by looking at murder. People usually don’t wake up one day deciding to become murderers, instead they are made that way either congenitally or as a result of environmental background. While circumstances may mitigate aspects of guilt, it seems clear that the sin remains in murder no matter what the cause. And for Christians, we know that of our own we are incapable of good yet responsible for our actions.

Take it where you wish – lust, greed, envy, gossip, strife, selfishness – these are all intrinsic to the heart. Their natural existence does not excuse our sins.

In the end, the argument is a non sequitur. Choice or congential, it doesn’t matter. Outside of the context of anything in this universe, the moral law is defined by the everlasting, invariant God and recorded in the Bible – and the Bible is clear that all forms of lust and non-marital (man and woman) sexual relations are sin. That’s where the point lies, and where you should spend your energies. To go elsewhere is to dissipate yourself on the irrelevant.