Slogans are important. They tell in a short, pithy way what drives a movement or an action. Slogans are also powerful because they make an argument which is asserted as an ultimate truth. Throughout history slogans have empowered great movements. For the Reformers it was the five alones, by grace alone, through faith alone, through Christ alone, under scripture alone and glory to God alone. It was these slogans which the Protestants rallied around as the core of what Scripture taught and what distinguished them from the Roman Catholic Church. In the American Revolution the slogans were equally powerful: no taxation without representation and don’t tread on me. Slogans identify the core beliefs of a movement.
As our world continues to change at an alarming speed we will continue to see the use of slogans. The slogans of our secular society lack the nobility and veracity of the ones listed above but their power in public discourse cannot be denied. The Christian must be ready to engage these secular slogans by confronting them with the truth of the gospel.
One such slogan used to justify the sexual deviancy of homosexuality is, “I was born this way.” This slogan asserts homosexuality is not wrong, nor is it neutral, but it is morally praiseworthy because it is “natural.” As the argument goes, the fact that homosexuals are supposedly born that way makes it above any type of moral judgment from anyone else.
This slogan rests upon the idea that if someone is born a certain way then that is to be embraced, praised, and affirmed as morally good. Such an ethic is not a solid foundation for morality and it becomes absurd rather quickly when applied in different areas. Let’s look at some of the logical problems with this ethic and then how the Christian should respond.
For example, let’s consider the pedophile. He too could make the claim he was “born this way” and if that is the grounds for establishing what is right then we should not object his pedophilia. Take as another example the serial killer, he too can claim to be “born this way” with a desire to kill, in fact if we are truly living in Darwin’s world of the survival of fittest, who are we to judge such an action is not right? Or take for example the habitual thief, he too could say, “I was born with a desire to take what is not mine, who are you to judge?” And again, he would in essence be making the same argument as those arguing for homosexuality today. If an action is natural to me at birth, it must be good!
I am not saying that all of these actions are morally equal, they are not, but I am saying that just because someone may or may not be born with a certain desire does not mean that desire is right, acceptable, or praiseworthy. In fact, many of our “natural” desires are wrong.
Scripture teaches us that all of us are born in sin. This means each and every one of us is born with sin dwelling in our hearts. We all are born with a desire toward evil. As we grow older those sinful desires become clearer and clearer as we chase after the desires of our heart. For some that desire is theft, some it is anger which leads to murder, for others it is sexual immorality via heterosexual promiscuity, and still for other it is homosexuality. The existence of a sinful nature is true of all humans and it is not a morally good thing. Natural does not necessarily equal good. In fact, it is unmistakably a very horrible thing that we have these sinful desires. Just because I was born a certain way does not make that a good thing. Our physical births are not the standard of morality, they cannot be. Unfortunately, our culture trusts very much in physical birth as a moral justification.
Since, “I was born this way,” is not a legitimate foundation for morality, how is the Christian to respond to this slogan? John 3 helps us here. The good news of the Gospel is found in Jesus’ word to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Nicodemus and other Jews wanted to rely on their physical birth, how they were born, in order to be counted as righteous before God. Those who are promoting sexual immorality today also point to their birth, though in a different way, as why they too are morally righteous. To Nicodemus, to secular liberals, to you, and to me, Jesus says, “You must be born again.”
I was born a sinner, and I am in need of a new birth. It is only through this new birth that I can be righteous before God and enter into his kingdom. So while I too was “born this way” into sin and death, as a Christian I have been “born again this way” in holiness and righteousness leading to eternal life. What is the solution to my sinful desires and my sinful flesh which I was born with? The answer is to be born again by the Spirit of God through the work of Jesus Christ.
For those who have been born again we now live in two realities. We still have our old sinful nature but now we also have a new nature in the likeness of Christ. As we grow in the faith we become more like Jesus and less like our old self. So Christians should say to the world, as Jesus did, “You were born this way, but you need to be born again in a new and better way.” The second birth is more powerful than the first birth as it breaks the hold of sin and death in our lives.
So Christians are born again this way—in the image and likeness of Christ. This means we are opposed to sinful lifestyles, including our own, and we are constantly directing ourselves and others to Jesus Christ through whom we can be born again. To their slogan, “I was born this way.” We should respond we our own slogan, “I was born again through the Holy Spirit and you can be too!” There alone is where hope for change can be found, the second birth. We all need to be “Born again this way.”