Nature

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Yesterday in our elders quorum meeting, the instructor brought up a point regarding how some individuals consider themselves having been born with certain qualities that they see no use in controlling. Specifically, he mentioned homosexuality. He disagreed with this idea on the basis that we are not born with such tendencies, but rather have a choice.

I disagree. At least to the point that I see no problem with the idea that people can be born with qualities or tendencies that are in direct opposition (or at least seem to be) principles of Christianity. After all, “the natural man is an enemy to God”. As such, it doesn’t not seem preposterous that we are naturally sinful. I have known a lot of people, for example, who seem predisposed to being selfish or dishonest.

If anything, it makes more sense. What would be the point of trying to be like Jesus if we were naturally inclined to be spiritual? What sacrifice would there be? How could we become stronger?

45 thoughts on “Nature

  1. Yes, we all have tendencies in varying degrees to sin in various ways, some of which tendencies appear to be inborn. On the other hand, we don’t know as a final matter whether some temptations are biologically inborn or not.

    Although you haven’t said so, I suspect your instructor was discussing those who claim to have inborn homosexual tendencies. Whereas I believe that some people are born with this tendency to sin, your instructor apparently does not. Neither of us has a truly unassailable doctrinal or scientific foundation for that belief.

    Though your instructor may be right or wrong with regard to people being born with certain tendencies, I think he is right when he says that people have a choice. That is, they have a choice about what to do with their temptations–unless their agency has been severely eroded by some factor. Does having an inborn tendency to sin erode agency? I suppose it depends on the nature and strength of the tendency.

  2. Oh good grief. I really need to improve my reading skills. Obviously you DO say that he was talking about homosexuality. Sorry.

  3. Another example: I seem to have been born argumentative. I don’t seem to be doing much to control that tendency. :)

  4. As long as I’m being verbose…

    (See, there’s another bad quality of mine that may or may not be inborn.)

    In a previous thread, some said they were praying for a revelation that states homosexual acts are no longer sinful. My question is: Is anyone planning to pray for other favorite sins to be taken off the list? Should we pray for a revelation that says stealing is no longer wrong, so the Church can stop persecuting kleptomaniacs? Should we pray for a revelation that adultery is no longer sinful so that those who want to indulge their natural desires can stop feeling so guilty?

    Hope this isn’t too far off topic. If so, just ignore me.

  5. I agree completely with you Kim. I beleive that people can be born with a predisposition to desire to commit sin. I see no reason why this is against the lords plan. It is entirely possible that it’s part of his plan.

    There are those who acquire that predisposition later. I don’t think it matters who falls into what category. The bottom line is that, like you said, we are to overcome the natural man.

    Sin is sin is sin is sin. If you know what I mean.

  6. The CBC just ran a little segment on the weekend that indicates some scientific foundation for homosexuality as an inherited trait. I’ll see if I can find a link to the podcast…

    Quirks and Quarks: Searching for a “Gay Gene”

    What Members of the church who try to justify the sin because it is natural need to remember, as Kim pointed out, the church considers “natural man” an enemy to God.

    Then again heterosexuality seems pretty natural to me. It just occurred to me, I better not say that too loudly.

    But seriously though, homosexuality to me doesn’t seem like a real sin (as compared to adultery, murder, theft, etc) since it doesn’t usually hurt anybody. But we obviously can’t just go around basing sins on that criteria now … can we?

  7. Jeff: It really depends on how you define “hurt.” There is, at the least, some spiritual harm wrought by all sins.

  8. “Can’t there be spiritual harm in something that is not a sin too?”

    Yes.

    Your comment also talks about how we should “go around basing sins…” by which I assume you mean defining what is sinful and what is not. You suggest that we should define actions as sins based on the criterion of whether they harm others. But that presupposes that we, and not God, are the ones who define what is sinful. It also presupposes that harm to oneself is not as bad as harm to others. It also suggests that we are much better than God at knowing what is harmful and what is not.

  9. Jeff: You mentioned that heterosexuality is natural, and that raises an interesting point about overcoming the Natural Man. Although we have a duty to overcome and subdue certain forces in ourselves, we obviously don’t have to destroy everything that is natural. But I do think we need to try to MASTER that which is natural. It’s natural to have sexual desire; our duty is to control the expression of that desire so that it happens in the right ways and not in the wrong ways. It’s natural to like food and drink; our duty is to use it healthfully and abstain from what the Lord says is dangerous to us.

    I find the words of Alma to his son Shiblon interesting: “See that ye bridle all your passions.” (Alma 38:12) To bridle a thing is not to kill it but to control it and put it to good use.

    Now someone out there is probably shouting at the screen, “But according to the Church, homosexuals do have to kill their sexual passion!” I’ll try to answer that, though I don’t know if my answer is entirely satisfactory:

    People with homosexual feelings are not, in fact, commanded not to have sex. They are commanded not to have sex outside of marriage and not to engage in sexual activities with members of the same sex. In other words, they are permitted to have sexual relations within a marriage to a member of the opposite sex. For some people who have felt only transitory same-sex attractions, that may be a reasonable and plausible thing to do. For others, who feel a deep-seated and seemingly permanent attraction to the same sex, and who do not feel any attraction for the opposite sex, this is almost meaningless. It may even sound repugnant. I do not recommend, nor does the Church recommend, that they marry as a kind of therapy to overcome same-sex attraction. Some people will be able to have the temptation removed; they will be able to overcome homosexual feelings and engage in meaningful heterosexual relations. Others, in my opinion, will never have that blessing in this life. Nevertheless, even when a passion cannot be put to proper use, for whatever reason, it should be bridled. If a horse cannot be put to work, it is not turned loose to do mischief; it is kept in check. When a passion cannot be put to good use, it likewise should not be turned loose to do harm.

  10. I think there are many ways in which spiritual harm is manifested. I wouldn’t pretend to be able to name or describe them all. When we sin, we’re doing things that alienate us further from God, rather than bring us nearer to him. We’re doing things that make us less like him, rather than more like him. We’re heading away from Eternal Life rather than towards it. That’s spiritual harm. I personally feel some of its effects in having less of the influence of the Holy Ghost in my life.

    All a lot of bunk to you, I suppose.

  11. Bunk is such a strong word…

    I’d say that I don’t completely understand what it is you’re talking about though…

    The ‘feeling the influence of the holy spirit’ thing has me perplexed.

    I would think that given the strictest definition of putting myself in spiritual harm, I participate in activities that are spiritually harming me several times a day.

    I guess my point is, short of losing touch with the holy ghost, how does spiritual harm manifest itself?

    Do bad things happen to me more frequently?
    Does my queue always move slower?
    Does my food give me less nutrition?

  12. “Do bad things happen to me more frequently?”
    A: They may, if the Lord thinks those bad things will give you a greater chance to humble yourself and repent. The Book of Mormon will show you this.

    Q: “Does my queue always move slower?”
    A: I doubt it. But see above.

    Q:”Does my food give me less nutrition?”
    A: Ditto

  13. “I participate in activities that are spiritually harming me several times a day.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more completely.

  14. ltbugaf, re: your post at 19:51 are you serious?

    It makes me laugh to think that someone would believe that there is a correlation between bad luck and how pleased or unpleased a supernatural being is with them.

    Using the Book of Mormon as evidence of “bad things happen[ing] to [someone] more frequently” is extremely weak. Even if we were able to show that the characters within the book of mormon get their comeupance that is not evidence of how things happen in real life.

    Bad things happen to good and bad people all the time. Good things happen to those that we might not think deserve it either, and probably just as occasionally good things happen to good people too.

    When people constantly watch for “good luck” and give credit to God for anything good that happens to them, they start to feel that good only comes as a direct result of God’s intervention in their life. Bad luck is credited as some kind of punishment or obstacle purely for learning. It’s a good way to stay positive in life, but the reality is, it’s just not that simple.

    Bad things happen because that’s the nature of chance. Life’s like that sometimes.

    Oh except for Rick, your queue moves slower because God IS teaching YOU a lesson. <--- that's so rediculous even for the comedy of it.

  15. Jeff, your last post has convinced me that we must have lunch sometime.

    We would have *way* too many things to laugh about.

    Kim, we need to make this happen.

  16. Jeff: You said, “ltbugaf, re: your post at 19:51 are you serious?”

    Yes. See, for example, Mosiah 1:17, Helaman 10:6, Helaman Chapter 11, Helaman 12:3, and Ether 9:35.

    But of course if you believe the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction, these won’t matter to you. When you say that the way things happen to characters in the Book of Mormon isn’t the way things happen to people in real life, I have to suppose you believe the Book of Mormon is a fraud.

  17. bad things happen sometimes because we do stupid things and sometimes just because they happen.

    like take one of my brothers for example. he woke up one cold morning, without his shoes, in the garage of a friend. this was after a night of drinking with said friend and others, who thought to take advantage of his nice nature (he really is such a nice sweet boy, he really is. ok man. he is 21 now. sigh) and remove his shoes and be mean to him and make him sleep off his alcoholic stupor in the garage. he also had no money left because he spent it the night before. so he is forced to walk, in cold weather, without any shoes, to find a phone to get someone to pick him up and take him home, because he could not get back in the house (not sure if no one heard him or were ignoring him. nice friends hey??).

    now, you could say ” this just happened”. but i am inclined to think that a series of bad choices, number one, choice of friends, number two, allowing such “friends” to do this to him, number three, drinking excessively, created this incidence. if he had been SMART, for example, stayed home in his OWN house, kept his shoes WITH him, kept his money IN his wallet, OR, chosen friends with better moral standards (friends who don’t think taking and hiding your shoes when it’s minus 15 out and expecting you to use all your money on them is a fun idea)this would not have happened to him.

  18. Jeff: If I have to suppose that bad things are NEVER the result of divine intervention and, as you later suggest, that good things are also never the result of divine intervention, then I have to assume that there is no such thing as divine intervention, and that there is no such thing as a blessing or a cursing from God. In that case, I would have to conclude that either there is no God or that he has nothing to do with us. I don’t believe in that kind of God. I believe in a God who is active in the lives of his children and causes, or allows, things to be brought about for their benefit.

    I don’t think that every bad thing or every good thing in life is a direct divine intervention. I do believe that some of them are. Do I know which is which? Seldom.

  19. Bad things often happen because of laws of nature. Once a gun is fired, for example, that bullet is going in a straight line no matter whether there is someone good or bad in that line.

  20. True. Is this supposed to prove that God never punishes people through bad things happening in life?

  21. But firing a gun isn’t inherently bad. The result of what the bullet hits is what is good or bad. If I am a good person and someone fires a gun in a room, that something bad isn’t happening to me. If the gun is pointed at me and the bullet hits me, then something bad is happening to me.

  22. “Bad things often happen because of laws of nature.”

    True. But that doesn’t mean that nothing ever happens because God makes it happen, as Jeff would have us believe.

    It should also be remembered that God knows more about the laws of nature and can use them in ways we don’t understand. In other words, he can work miracles.

  23. i believe that Heavenly Father allows things to happen, doesn’t necessarily “make” things. But allows the natural law of order to take place.

  24. Well, if God is still punishing people for the way they act, he’s certainly lost His flair for the dramatic.

    I mean when was the last time you saw a city destroyed or a person turned into a pillar of salt.

    Am I the only one who finds it odd that God now works in these ultra subtle ways now when before he was striking down people and manifesting himself all over the place?

    This also raises the important question,”Does God care who wins the superbowl?”

  25. Rick: I imagine most ancient life was about as ordinary as modern life. But in exceptional cases, God sometimes intervened in ways that were dramatic. He also intervened in ways that were small and simple (see Alma 37:5-7, for example). In modern times, God also manifests himself, sometimes, in dramatic ways. But most of those events aren’t cast like pearls at the feet of unbelieving swine. They aren’t offered up as signs to an adulterous generation that seeks them. Rather, they follow faith. They’re often kept personal, private and sacred.

    I agree with Mary that God both “causes” and “allows” things to happen, in order to bring about his purposes. So if his purpose is to help you repent, and he wants you to be humbled, is he going to cause or allow bad things to happen to you? Maybe.

  26. If the outcome of the Superbowl has some unseen connection to the Lord’s purposes in helping his children to achieve Eternal Life, then I imagine he does care. I don’t know whether there is such a connection, but he does.

  27. “Does God was/want America in Iraq?”

    Wow. I thought we were already way off topic, but this?

    Maybe you should post a new thread if you want to debate someone’s pretensions to know God’s will with regard to Iraq.

  28. Kim: I know you’re dishing out absurdities, but let’s suppose that the war in Iraq does have some effect on the outcomes that the Lord wants, in terms of helping his children achieve Eternal Life. It’s not too hard to imagine that it does.

    Is it then possible that he was deliberate in allowing George W. Bush to be chosen President? Of course it is possible, just as it was possible that he “suffered” the US Constitution to be established (see D&C 101:7).

    Is it also possible that he deliberately CAUSED some things to bring about this result? I don’t see why not.

    I don’t presume to know whether the Lord did something to help George W. Bush become President or not. But it certainly isn’t impossible.

  29. “Of course. That’s why he put George W. Bush in as president.”

    Why can’t we shed the pretenses and forget about this whole democracy thing?

    We ask the prophet who should be president, and that’s the vote that counts, right?

    :P

    Then again being a non-member and a non-American, it could be my insecurity complex talking.

  30. “We ask the prophet who should be president, and that’s the vote that counts, right?”

    Given that he’s a Democrat, I’d be interested to see who he chooses.

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