How do we understand those who struggle with immoral attractions, who would rather be more natural in their inclinations? Or who feel compelled to self-identify as something other than they are? Or who fantasize about unspeakable wickedness? It does seem as if we’re not all deliberately choosing the attractions and tendencies over which we struggle, that we seem to be born with them, and Christians are not immune from the fight. How then can we condemn such behavior?
God tells us He gives us over to a reprobate mind, to do things which are harmful to ourselves and others, because we’ve not kept God central in our world view. (Ro 1:28) However, many of us struggle with such behavior who are not morally bankrupt; we may indeed be struggling quietly, doing our best to walk with God in spite of how we feel, and may not be able to identify anything we’ve done to create this condition. What hope do we have when we find ourselves struggling like this?
Perhaps the things we do instinctively, apart from our conscious will, spring from our sub-conscious, from beliefs and thinking patterns programmed into us from infancy through various combinations of trauma, societal training and cultural influences. How have these millions of signals, most of which we didn’t chose, impacted us?
It may also be that we inherit moral tendencies through our ancestry (De 23:2), and perhaps even from those in our current culture (3-4), or even from mankind in general (Ro 5:19), as part of a single, living human organism. (Ep 4:25) We don’t fully understand how we’re influenced by the thoughts and actions of others, but we don’t actually need to understand the why and how in order to be healed.
God has told us that knowing the truth makes us free (Jn 8:31-32), that acknowledging the truth sets us free from spiritual slavery and bondage. (1Ti 2:25-26) Truth is the weapon of our warfare in this struggle; there is no bondage or instinct too strong for God to heal, if we’re willing to pursue and receive the truth. (Ep 3:20)
Every one of us struggles with sinful tendencies and attractions which seem beyond our control; we can deny and resist them, but we can’t simply turn them off altogether and feel differently without divine healing. Rather than presuming “God made me this way” whenever we have an instinctive reaction that’s contrary to moral law, perhaps we should offer up these instincts to God and ask Him to help us re-program both our conscious and sub-conscious minds.
Consistently and prayerfully exposing our minds and hearts to truth and asking God to work it down into the deepest recesses of our being, this is the way to cleansing and freedom. (Ps 119:9) It may not be a quick fix, any more than our initial programming happened overnight; the web of lies may be extremely deep and complex. One thing we know is that God knows us better than we know ourselves (Ps 139:1-4), and He has given His very best to set us free. (Tit 2:14) If we want to be healed and pursue Him for it, He’s on our side and will be with us every step of the way. (He 13:5-6)