Why the "Born This Way" Argument Fails

By Robin Schumacher

I doubt there's much disagreement that "born this way" is the number one argument in play today regarding homosexuality.

In debating the issue of same-sex marriage, and homosexual behavior in general, a very common line of reasoning used by our culture to defend homosexuality is that people are born with their sexual orientation. In Christianity, those espousing a pro-gay theology oftentimes declare, "God made me this way." In both cases, the claim is that you cannot fault someone for being born the way they are, and therefore homosexual behavior should be embraced and valued every bit as much as heterosexuality.

Homosexuality aside for a moment, I'd like to assert that Lady Gaga can sing "Born This Way" all she'd like, but the argument itself doesn't stick.

This fact is becoming especially relevant today because we are now beginning to see the argument utilized to justify many other behaviors, with the most recent being pedophilia. Christian commentators have said for a long time that we would go down this road, but they were crucified in the media for suggesting it.

But really, did anyone doubt this would happen?

Why the Argument Fails in General

Whether someone is born a homosexual or not is a debate that continues to rage with "experts" on both sides producing data and studies that supposedly solidify their position. Personally, I think the debate is somewhat irrelevant for the following reason:

Being born with certain behavioral predispositions does not equate to those desires being good, moral, and right in the eyes of God.

For example, I wasn't born monogamous. I truly wish I was, but sadly, I wasn't. My natural inclinations and drives are aimed at having sex with women, and truth be told, as many as I possibly can.

I also wasn't born patient. Instead, I was born naturally impatient.

And self-centered.

And prone to outbursts of anger.

And unforgiving.

And a liar.

And greedy.

I was born with all of these things and more. These traits and desires come to me naturally, are quite strong, and are very easy for me to live with in lots of ways.

If you want to see many of these sinful behaviors in full bloom, you needn't look any further than the nearest 3-year old child, who will be only too happy to demonstrate his true nature when you don't give him what he wants or if you take something away from him. This may be why Reinhold Neibuhr has gone so far as to argue that, "The doctrine of original sin is the only empirically verifiable doctrine of the Christian faith." [1]

Yet, each one of these natural tendencies is something every responsible parent works hard at changing in their child, and that each responsible adult should work hard at removing from their life.

This is why the "born that way" argument fails in general. Its implicit foundation is flawed because it assumes that if a person is born with a particular inclination towards a behavior, then it must be moral and good. That just isn't true.

The Next Battleground?

We're now seeing this argument rearing its head in another cultural area. Writing at, Cord Jefferson recently asked the question whether pedophilia is an evil, illness, or orientation. His article, "Born This Way: Sympathy and Science for Those Who Want to Have Sex with Children" [2] is written in a format reminiscent of past articles dealing with homosexuality.

He begins by describing how even people who believe in God struggle with pedophilia. He moves from there to list the ways in which pedophiles are ostracized by society, experience harassment and intimidation, and suffer internally with their desires. In a note strikingly similar to what some homosexuals have said in the past, one pedophile quoted in the article says: "I walk around every awful day of my life knowing that THERE IS NO ONE OUT THERE FOR ME" (emphasis in the original).

Jefferson then delivers the verdict from the moral authority that those without God are turning to more and more to tell them what's right and wrong—science—that supposedly explains the real state of the pedophile.

Jefferson says, "There is a growing number of researchers, many of them out of Canada, whose work suggests that pedophilia is an illness deserving of the public's sympathy the way any brain disorder is. Some of the scientists say pedophilia is a sexual orientation, meaning that it's unchangeable, regardless of how much jail time or beatings or therapy someone is dealt." [3]

Testifying before the Canadian Parliament's "Committee on Justice and Human Rights", doctors Vernon Quinsey and Hubert Van Gijseghem stated: "If we know that pedophiles are not simply people who commit a small offence from time to time but rather are grappling with what is equivalent to a sexual orientation just like another individual may be grappling with heterosexuality or even homosexuality, and if we agree on the fact that true pedophiles have an exclusive preference for children, which is the same as having a sexual orientation, everyone knows that there is no such thing as real therapy. You cannot change this person's sexual orientation." [4]

Jefferson asks us to "imagine a world in which admitting your attraction to busty women or tall men led to alienation, jail time, or your murder," and proactively attempts to eliminate any possible faith-based intervention by saying such things are "akin to sending a homosexual child off to a religious-based institution that claims it can 'pray the gay away'." [5]

Cleary, the lines for the next sexual battleground are being drawn up.

Being Born Again Overcomes being "Born that Way"

Jefferson does not endorse pedophilia in his article; however the tone of the piece was not lost on Dr. Keith Ablow who wrote a rebuttal to the data contained within the story. Ablow says: "The elevation of pedophilia to sexual orientation clears the way for more of it [eventual cultural approval]. And Cord Jefferson conspires with that potential with his writings." [6]

Think that couldn't happen?

In the Apostle Paul's day, some Greeks and Romans justified such actions by asserting that adult/child sexual relations positively contributed to the education of the child. The practice was also included in various pagan religious rituals. One wonders if our society is simply returning back to the days of ancient Greece and Rome where sex and other such practices are concerned.

To the church at Corinth, which could arguably be called the most sexually-free and open city of that day, Paul, wrote the following: "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthains 6:9–10).

Paul lists out all kinds of supposed "born that way" sexual practices including heterosexual fornication, homosexual sex, and possibly adult/child relations (the Greek term malakos, translated here "effeminate", can refer to such behavior [7]). But then the Apostle says, "Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11, my emphasis).

Jefferson ends his article by saying, "One imagines that if Jesus ever came to Earth, he'd embrace the poor, the blind, the lepers, and, yes, the pedophiles." Jesus, in fact, did come to earth and associated with the poor, the blind, and the lepers. Those three classes of people, however, differ from the pedophile in that they don't practice sexual behavior that runs contrary to God's will. Jesus would no doubt tell them the same thing he said to the woman caught in adultery: "From now on sin no more" (John 8:11).

Being born again (John 3) is the first step in overcoming all the "born that way" behaviors that the Bible says are not the marks of godly and righteous people. This is not to imply that becoming a Christian instantly eradicates all sinful desires from a person; Paul's statements in Romans 7 prove this thought to be false.

But spiritual regeneration is the beginning of a person's recognition that their born-that-way behaviors are sin. This is then followed by the empowering of the Holy Spirit that moves a person toward a life of personal holiness and sanctification.

The Bible tells us the fruit of the Spirit is, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). When we manifest these things and reflect Jesus, we can thank God that He has overcome our past sinful inclinations and now has caused us to be "born His way" instead of "born this way".

[1] Original Sin and Everyday Protestants: The Theology of Reinhold Niebuhr by Andrew S. Finstue
[2] A warning to the reader: This article contains somewhat graphic and disturbing material. Let the reader proceed with caution. Born This Way: Sympathy and Science for Those Who Want to Have Sex with Children by Cord Jefferson,
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] No one is born a pedophile by Dr. Keith Ablow,
[7] BDAG Lexicon.

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Published 1-16-13