Why I Can’t Buy the ‘God Made Me This Way’ Argument
A statement I hear a good deal from people who are struggling to be what they want to be or what others say they should be, “God made me this way,” just doesn’t hold water with me.
I’ve heard it from addicts. I’ve heard it from overweight people. I’ve heard it from gay people.
It’s meant as a defense of their behavior, but it simultaneously serves as a chance of blaming God for their problems: when challenged on their positions, they simply wave off the criticism, saying, “Well, God made me this way.”
I know a guy who has a very short fuse. He’s quick to fly off the handle if things don’t go his way. At times, he struggles to control his temper. Other times, he seems to give up trying to control his temper, unfurling the “God made me this way” banner, instead.
The writers of the Bible weren’t too happy about the notion of anger. Consider Matthew 5:22:
“But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” [NLT]
The Message translates that first line of the verse this way:
“I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder.”
If anger is a sin on the same level as murder, why would God make some people more susceptible to anger?
Scientists tell us genetics are a big factor in addiction. In a strain of my extended family, there is a line of alcohol addiction; the most recent generation of that strain also dabbled in drugs. If we are instructed to not be drunk on wine (or anything else but the Word of God), why would God make people more susceptible to addiction?
There’s a long-held argument that homosexuality is a choice. I’ve never understood, even for a moment, how someone can actually believe that. To me, the only “choice” in homosexuality is whether you act on the attractions you have. But people are attracted to whom they are attracted, and there’s not one person I’ve ever talked to — on either side of that fence — who claims to have gotten up one morning and just selected whether he or she would be attracted to the opposite or same sex.
If the gender to whom one is attracted isn’t a choice, that would mean that God made homosexuals gay. Why would He?
If we accept the “God made me this way” argument, we also have to accept that God intentionally made people with birth defects have them. We must accept that God made certain people be born blind. Or deaf. Or with learning disabilities.
The Bible tells us quite clearly, that God isn’t out to “get” us like some assassin. Jeremiah 29:11 points out the real truth here:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” [NIV]
Any kind of disability we have could be a blessing if those who have one act in a manner that helps inspire others. Some people with various limitations of one kind or another do amazing things and make extraordinary contributions in the world.
But I can’t accept the notion that God made have to go through that, if I accept that God is a loving God who wants us all to prosper. Because if I somehow make myself believe that part, then I have to wonder what a stillborn baby did to make God so angry.
It comes down to the argument of whether God is causing suffering in the world, or merely allowing it to happen. It often doesn’t feel like there’s a big difference between the two when we’re in the midst of a big dose of suffering. There are times when a parent will let a child wander into danger to allow the child to learn a valuable lesson: this is very different from taking the worst possible outcome and pouring that upon the child. If I see God as my Father, then I have to look at Him as a loving parent.
I’ve struggled with weight for years. The Bible tells me I should treat my body as a temple. So why would God make me so that my head is so easily turned by unhealthy food? Why would God specifically create in me a crossed wire that makes it harder for me to resist food and even more difficult for me to look like a GQ model?
And that brings me to the most important question of all: Why would I just give up any effort to get healthier, to do the right thing, to eat better and exercise more? Why wouldn’t I just sit on the couch with a box of bon-bons, saying, “Well, God made me fat, so I’ll just stay fat.”
It doesn’t make much sense when you think of it that way, does it?
I do believe that there are genetic elements in play here. I do believe there are biological factors and processes that just go wrong in various ways. I don’t believe, however, that God specifically acts to cause each problem. I believe He set forth the biological functions through which life happens. I don’t think He actively tweaks every little thing; I believe that He has the ability to do so: He’s God, after all…you’d think that’d be somewhere in the job description.
But I believe that in many cases, He doesn’t micromanage every aspect of creation. There are some things He left us to take care of. And there are things that we don’t always take care of well.
I don’t know how I could believe in a loving, caring God who wants us to have hope and a God who intentionally makes us fall short in ways that force us outside of His will.
God doesn’t make us this way. We do a fine job of that on our own.
God is the hope we have to deal with the limitations, addictions, afflictions or whatever else we have in our lives that we’d otherwise feel the need to “blame” on someone else. Realizing that fact makes a huge difference in how you look at the world and the people who share this journey with you.