“This is the way God made me . . . ” seems to be the battle cry of our culture. It seems like his name is useful for something other than just cursing.
But what I think most people mean when they say that this is the way God made me is something more honestly akin to, “God has made me this way so I must be true to myself . . . If I am messed up its his fault!” There is an irony in the sudden and stark adoption of the sovereignty of God in this phrase.
I would like to point out three fundamental misunderstandings that lead to a misuse of the phrase, “God made me this way.”
1. We live in a culture that neglects the obvious reality of original sin. Recently, in a discussion about homosexuality on Facebook I mentioned that all of us are sexually broken at which point the person I was debating disagreed. There is a fundamental, significant and deep difference between believing that we are all broken and believing that we are all just fine.
I could easily say that God made me with a quick temper. I am told my grandfather had quite a temper. My mother, who raised me, had quite a temper . . . And I inherited quite a temper. Nature or nurture aside there is no question that my propensity toward anger comes natural to my family line. I would suggest to you, however, that my temper is part of a complex result of the fall of humanity that is woven quite strongly into the fabric of my nature. It is hard to extricate this part of my personality without removing a part of what I perceive to be “me” . . . And yet my expressions of anger and rage, MUST be controlled.
If we refuse to acknowledge a genuine brokenness in the heart of each human, then we certainly will not be able to apply the phrase “God made me this way” in a meaningful, accurate or helpful way.
2. We live in a culture that assumes that we have an internal nature that must be obliged! The arguments in our culture have turned dramatically against reforming sinners, converting them from sinful action to holy living. (Which I want to be sure is understood as reforming behavior and not necessarily desire, e.g. My anger is real and remains, but punching holes in the wall hasn’t happened in decades!) I pray that God would give me a heart that is increasingly more and more kind and patient, but in the mean time, I am learning to avoid sinful outbursts and unhealthy expressions of temper.
Some sins are still allowed to be reformed with the applause of culture. I am grateful for the sake of my family that reforming the sins of rage and hostility is still acceptable in our culture. I must exhibit self-control, patience, gentleness and kindness on a daily basis. These are NOT my internal natural responses. If you want to encourage me to just be myself, you may not like what you see too much!
3. We live in a culture that increasingly defines the true person as the invisible passions and feelings of the person. It is ironic that in this very naturalistic society people would define a person with male parts as a woman, simply because they say they feel like a woman. It seems to me like science might just come into play here somewhere . . .
This move toward defining a person in their core as their feelings is a very dangerous notion. My feelings change quickly. But I am pretty sure that my nature or essence does not change as often as my emotions. So when a person says, “God made ME this way” the “me” in that sentence usually implies some set of emotions and feelings that are quite fickle and driven by the circumstances of the day.
To be fair, I recognize that patterns of longings, emotions and desires over time, do indeed have an impact on us in very powerful ways. I am not at all suggesting that everyone struggling with same sex attraction or gender confusion is in some way responding to a whim or trivial impulse. But what I am saying is that they define way too much of their essence by sexual desire or some internal feeling.
Back to my anger illustration. I am not an angry man. I do not need to be defined by my internal struggle. Is it a part of my life. Absolutely! Is it real? Yes! Is it difficult? Yes. I may even be moved to say that “God made me this way.” But that doesn’t mean that I am to settle into a life of rage and anger that destroys others. The reason I am not satisfied with this is that I believe in original sin. Meaning that my natural bent toward anger is sinful. Secondly I believe that there are parts of my internal longings that are broken and need to be reformed. Lastly I believe that I am integrated body and soul . . . Which means that the things I do with my body matter as much as the emotions that drive those actions.
For those who are in Christ, we know that we are not yet what we will become! And in this place of brokenness we strive toward the holiness to which God calls us. And He certainly calls us to deny sinful passions that rage within us for His glory and for the good of others. That is a tough calling, but one that each sinner, saved by grace, must reckon with.