I heard this statement a couple weeks ago, “Our post-modern/Christian world revolves around personal autonomy.” It struck a chord in mind and heart and I have been formulating some thoughts on the subject and how it relates to one’s sexual and or gender identity. Moral psychology defines personal autonomy as “self-government or self-direction; being autonomous is acting on motives, reasons, or values that are one’s own.” In essence, it is the ability to exercise personal choice.
Am I implying that sexuality and gender are a matter of choice? Yes and no. From my personal experience, my attractions towards women were full blown by nine or ten years old. I had my first girlfriend by the age of 11. To date, I have not been able to pinpoint when I made a choice about my sexual attractions and desires. However, I can place the point in my life when I fully embraced my sexuality as my identity in my twenties. From that point forward my personal autonomy took on the form of personal rights.
This in turn led to a strong sense of entitlement. I was driven by a strong need for acceptance and need to be treated like an equal by others. In the course of my years as an out loud and proud lesbian a cycle emerged within me; I would go from feeling other than, to the same as, to better than others. One can see the same pattern repeated among members of the LGBTQ community. Personal rights/autonomy is shaping the political and moral landscape of Western culture. This sense of privilege is making villains out of anyone who opposes or has a different point of view or belief when comes to marriage, sexual and gender identity.
Since becoming a Christian, I have evaluated every aspect of my life and I found it humiliating to think of myself as an entitled person. An entitled person puts their needs above others. This couldn’t be me. I had worked with at-risk youth and cared for the poor and oppressed. Yet, when I looked honestly at my life; my right to be heard and understood as a lesbian came before anything or anyone else. For years it was like loud blaring music, hard to ignore; if a person tried to ignore me I simply turned the volume up and made it obvious who I was. I demanded that you acknowledge and accept me for who I was, a lesbian. Most of my readers know of at least one person just like me, in your face about their sexuality and angry as hell at you if don’t accept them just as they are.
As I began to read the Bible and wrestle with my faith and sexuality I soon discovered that personal autonomy has been around since the dawn of creation. First Lucifer, AKA Satan, an angel who set out to be equal with God. See Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14. The first humans, Adam and Eve, defied God’s command to not eat from the tree of knowledge; they freely indulged in that which was forbidden. Genesis 3. As a result of resolving my faith and sexuality, I have come to the conclusion that God created humans with free will so that we freely follow Him or not. What a risky venture on God’s part to give His most treasured part of creation the capacity to accept or reject His path to life and live within His boundaries’ so that all will go well for us.
What does personal autonomy have to do with people’s sexual or gender identity? I have come to the conclusion that sexual and gender identities are a direct result of Satan’s and Adam and Eve’s poor choices, and in Biblical terms is called sin. Satan brought sin to the human race in the Garden of Eden, where he tempted Adam and Eve with the same enticement, “you shall be like God.” Genesis 3 describes Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God and against His command. Since that time, sin has been passed down through all the generations of mankind and we, Adam’s descendants, have inherited sin from him. Romans 5:12 tells us that through Adam sin entered the world, and so death was passed on to all men because “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
In a sense, all humans are born with a “sin gene.” Another way of looking at it is that we come into this world with a sense of personal rights and selfish entitlement. We place our needs, wants and desires before anyone else or God innately from the crib to the grave. Yep, that smacks! You may think I am implying that sexuality and gender identity are genetic in nature. In a sense I am but not in the way you may be thinking. Being born with a “sin gene” does not give a person a free pass to pursue sexual attractions outside of God’s design. God designed sexual relationships to be between one man and one woman within a marriage relationship. God also created the gift of gender and before we are born He designates us as either male or female. Gulp! That was a hard Truth for me to come to terms with.
Let’s look at one final aspect of personal autonomy/choice. If our lives are purely focused on meeting our needs, wants and desires our way, it is easy to twist and or ignore Truth to allow us to live in a way that makes us feel good. When we willfully continue down this path, life lived on our terms becomes a form of idolatry. Webster’s states that idolatry is the worship of idols or excessive devotion to or reverence for a person or thing. The Bible clearly defines an idol as anything that replaces our attention and affection for the one, true God and His intended path for our lives. We were created foremost for relationship with God. When we focus our affections elsewhere we can never truly be satisfied.
To my gay and gay Christian friends, I implore you to not read this and just sit in your anger over the hard truths I have shared. Consider this, you may feel you were born gay or in the wrong body. I understand, those feelings are real. However, God has a life beyond your sexuality or gender confusion. It starts with a personal choice to surrender the entirety of one’s life to Jesus Christ. May I challenge you to take an honest, hard look at the roots of sexuality and come to terms with it between you and your creator. It is the most costly choice I have ever made and it was worth it! Please feel free to share your thoughts or comments with me.
Thanks for following my journey,