Born That Way

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by Becca

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be forever and ever… (Mosiah 3:19)

A Natural, Corrupted Existence

We knew in the premortal existence that our mortal bodies would be subject to the corruption of a fallen world, and we chose to subject our spirits to the prison of a mortal body separated from God.O Is For Oracle

Born into an imperfect, mortal, world, we become natural as our spirits become inhabitants of physical bodies, physical bodies that are “subject to sin, disease, all types of suffering, and ultimately death.”

We are born that way. Corruptible, mortal, natural. The Fall caused a separation from God, placing us, in our mortal condition, in opposition to God, in a sense enemies to Him, unable to return to His presence in our present state of being.

A Paradoxical Plan?

The prophets and apostles have given us counsel and instruction about what God intended for our mortal bodies. They have taught that the most significant and glorious purpose of our bodies is to create life. President Boyd K. Packer spelled it out for us,

The gift of mortal life and the capacity to kindle other lives is a supernal blessing. Through the righteous exercise of this power, as in nothing else, we may come close to our Father in Heaven and experience a fullness of joy. This power is not an incidental part of the plan of happiness. It is the key—the very key.

The gift of mortal life and the capacity to create life is not incidental – it is, rather the very key of God’s plan.

Just as the prophets teach us that the capacity to create life is the very key of God’s plan, so do the scriptures teach us about the importance of the Fall of Adam,

And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen [been cut off from the presence of God], but he would have remained in the Garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created. …

And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

These two keys to the plan of salvation, the Fall of Adam and procreative power, seem to be paradoxical. If not for the Fall of Adam, we would not have the power to create life, but because of the Fall of Adam, our bodies are imperfect, sometimes unable to create life.

If the very key of God’s plan is to have and give life, then it seems that we should all have access to this key. But what about those who are, due to their imperfect mortal bodies, unable to give life?

tiny footWhat about those who were born sterile or infertile? Those who struggle with infertility have no choice in the matter. They were born that way – unable to exercise the very key of our existence. If men and women are commanded to “multiply and replenish the earth”, and the power to create life is “the very key” to the plan of happiness, why aren’t we all born with the ability to reproduce?

What about those who are not even attracted to members of the opposite sex, with whom sexual intimacy is required in order to create life? There is evidence that many people who experience these feelings are indeed born that way. They were born with these feelings that seem to keep them from being able to fulfill God’s commandments. Why aren’t we all born with a natural urge to be sexually intimate with the opposite sex, which intimacy was divinely designated to create life?

What about those who may have the desire to be intimate with a member of the opposite sex, but not to reproduce or raise children? There is recent evidence that women who don’t have a desire to have children may have been born that way. Some women may be naturally disinclined to bear and raise children. Why aren’t we all born with a natural urge to “multiply and replenish the earth”?

These are only a few examples of physical imperfections that seem to keep us from following God’s plan. There are other natural conditions, allowed by the Fall, that seem to suggest we were born with an inability to keep the commandments of God: mental disabilities, personality disorders, physical disabilities and malformations, genetic diseases, the list seems infinite. These mortal conditions can seem to hinder us from keeping any number of God’s commandments, including missionary work and making temple covenants.

Did God intend for us to be in opposition to Him? Does being born natural, corruptible, contradict God’s plan for us?

A Way is Provided

We knew that if we accepted God’s plan for us that would mean eventually inhabiting imperfect, corruptible bodies. While I do not believe that God purposefully created broken, weak bodies for us, I do think the natural conditions of this world were an important part of the Fall. The imperfections of our physical, mortal bodies and the connected suffering provides a way for us to experience trials and heartache, an important part of our eternal progression.

I believe the Savior gave us some insight into this part of the plan when He taught His disciples in response to their question about the blind man, “Who did sin, this man or his parents?” The Savior answered,

Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

The man’s blindness was not a result of sin, but a natural condition of the Fall. Being born as natural men and women doesn’t not contradict God’s plan for us, but is a consequence of the Fall and is necessary for our spiritual progression. The scriptures teach us that there must be “opposition in all things” so that righteousness and holiness – or God’s plan – can be brought to pass.

While in our mortal, corruptible, and imperfect state, it can be easy for us to feel as though we were created in opposition to God. However, Mosiah chapter 3 verse 19 teaches us how to overcome the limitations of our physical bodies and become unified with God, not only regardless of our natural condition, but through it. Man is unable to dwell with God,

… unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things [including the physical imperfections of this life] which the Lord seeth fit to inflict [or allows to be inflicted] upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (emphasis and parentheticals added)

By the grace of God, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, it is possible to become a saint – to become the way God wants us to be – and to overcome the way we were born, to overcome the weakness inherent in a physical, mortal, corruptible body.

Born Again

Satan’s lie is that because we are born as natural, corruptible beings we are defined by our imperfect, mortal state. He tries to convince us that we will be, or were meant to be, that way forever. But the scriptures teach us that we can and must experience a second birth, a spiritual rebirth.

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 1 Peter 1:23

all mankind must … be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state Mosiah 27:25

The Atonement of Jesus Christ allows us to be reborn in this life, spiritually overcoming the nature of our mortal bodies. The Atonement also allows us to be reborn in the resurrection, physically overcoming the nature of our mortal bodies.

Our spiritual progression is never limited by the way we were born.

God’s plan is not flawed. It is not paradoxical. His plan is perfect. He has promised us that He “will not suffer [us] to be tempted above that [we] are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that [we] may be able to bear it.” We can, through the glorious Atonement of Jesus Christ, overcome the way we were born. We may not be changed in this life, but we will “be able to bear it.” And we will someday stand new, incorruptible, restored to a perfect state.

  • How have you been able to use the atonement of Jesus Christ to overcome the way you were born?
  • Does having your own weaknesses compel you to be compassionate?
  • How do you have compassion on your brothers and sisters who, like you, have mortal weakness?

About Becca

Becca is just a woman, mother, daughter of God, trying to figure things out. She blogs at My Soul Delighteth and Real Intent.

9 Responses to Born That Way

  1. readermom says:

    Thank you. I needed to hear this message today.

  2. Deborah says:

    personally ~ My 2 sisters my mom, and myself were diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of 7, [my mom was 45 when diagnosed] but, we each received a priesthood blessing confirming that we had agreed and were bounded together as a family in order to help each other overcome our individual missions and collective purpose to glorify Father and Christ ~ I have deep testimonies about our acceding to much, if not most, of what we would experience here before earthly phase. I’d never question my Heavenly Father’s reasons since I’m here in mortality BECAUSE I ACCEPTED HIM & HIS PLAN/GOSPEL BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THIS EARTH AS DID CHRIST ~ we’re not that different.

  3. Ray DeGraw says:

    I really like this post, especially since it doesn’t say that we need to “fix” some of the things with which we are born in order to be acceptable to and loved by God – or that it’s our fault for being “born that way”. I believe strongly in trying to rise above our natural (wo)man and become more godly, but I recognize that my mother couldn’t change her schizophrenia and my son can’t change his Type 1 diabetes. Neither can my gay friends who were “born that way” change their sexual orientation – just as I can’t change my sexual orientation. Some things are in our power to change; some things aren’t. Ultimately, it’s not the objective result but the subjective effort – and God alone can be our judge in that arena.

    What we can do is strive to “overcome” and “deal with” whatever we believe is keeping us from God and keeping us from being like God – accepting our Second Article of Faith and its promise that we won’t be punished for Adam’s transgression (which I read to include the natural aspects of the Fall for which we are not accountable, freeing us to work on growth and change [repentance] to the best of our ability without shackling guily for needin that growth and change).

    That Article of Faith allows me to accept people for who they are as a result of the Fall and leave repentance to them individually – to pursue “according to the dictates of their own conscience”, knowing God can see their hearts far better than I am able to do.

    • Ray DeGraw says:

      Sorry for the typos. My fatigue is showing.

    • Becca says:

      I think the most significant part of 1 Corinthians 10:13 is that it doesn’t say God will take away our temptations, but He will provide a way for us to bear it. It’s a hard truth to accept sometimes, especially when our trials are severe and the suffering sore and all we want is just for God to take it away. But often he doesn’t. Sometimes He simply gives us the inner strength, or the right medication, or a kind friend/neighbor/RS president, etc to help us bear it.

      Great comments.

  4. Jeanna says:

    Thanks for this. I feel like it touched on two really important things: First, that we are all “born that way” with problems/weaknesses/tendencies/etc. Second, that part of the goal of mortality is to overcome that. You put it so clearly and reasonably.

    On a more personal note, I really appreciated it because it gave me a different way to look at something I have struggled with for years. Almost every time a GA gave a talk on women’s “innate mothering spirit,” I feel guilty and horrible. I have two children, and I love them dearly, but I do not feel like I have any innate ability to be that way. It is always a struggle, and I have long felt kind of broken.

    Now I can say, “Yes! I am broken!” 🙂 But it’s a part of mortality, not just an inherent part of me personally. I appreciate this concept (and it feels spiritually true) because it decreases guilt without decreasing the need to strive to do better–the perfect balance.

    • Becca says:

      I love this: “it decreases guilt without decreasing the need to strive to do better–the perfect balance”

      I believe that is what the atonement and the plan of salvation are all about – we don’t have to feel guilty for things that are hard for us. We just plow on and know that God will cover everything we cannot do. And there is much we cannot do.

      Today I thought to myself, “If I didn’t know God existed and the plan was true, I would hope it was, because I cannot do anything of my own power.” I feel like everything I do is through and because of Christ. There is no way I would have the capability to do the things I do on a daily basis (children, marriage, calling, friendships, etc etc) without the atonement of Jesus Christ.

  5. Nick Galieti says:

    While many are born with certain struggles and challenges, there is a danger in becoming complacent or in using those issues as excuses to not try and improve. How we came into this world does not mean that is how we should be when we leave it. In fact, it is just as much a part of the plan to have trials as it is to learn to overcome them.

    While it is impossible to accurately make blanket statements on issues such as this, I think it is wise to keep in mind that the attributes of the natural man that make one an “enemy to God” are those that can be solved by the employing their opposing remedies prescribed in the same verse; namely by yielding to the enticings of the Holy Spirit we put off the natural man by becoming a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord. We should seek to become as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things. One is not a ‘natural man-type of-enemy to God for having MS, or some other physical handicap. We stand to opposition to God when our minds and our hearts turn away from God and godliness, not simply because we have a physical challenge.

  6. Kate says:

    I really appreciate this post and I’m glad that Becca took the time to write it. One of the most encouraging feelings, to me, is that my Father knows I can do it. He knows our potential and our ability to grow and overcome the tendencies of this natural state. That feeling will give me encouragement when sometimes nothing else will and this post was a great reminder.

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