Genetics – can we blame God for our weaknesses?

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Just recently our three year old grandson in America was diagnosed as having a rare genetic abnormality – a duplication of the 15th chromosome, which has resulted in autism. Not only this – but blood tests have shown that he inherited this from our son who apparently has the same abnormality! I cannot argue the facts, and am only grateful that whatever problems this may have produced were negligible and haven’t affected his ability to function ‘normally’ – whatever ‘normal’ means! Another academic question then begs to be answered – which of us, his parents, have passed on this faulty gene? We have both looked back over our wider family history to see if such signs were ever in evidence and whilst on the surface it appears not, closer scrutiny could suggest that a whole host of minor quirks and idiosyncrasies could be blamed on this faulty gene!

A more obvious example of genetics which many of us grumble about is our inherited body shape……apple, pear, bean-pole etc. Since God ’knew all our parts when there were as yet none of them, when we were being secretly formed in our mother’s womb,’ (Psalm 139) could we perhaps blame Him for the obesity epidemic? Did God, in fact, make you fat?

Now there’s a question!

Scientists have discovered a ‘fat gene’. Briefly stated this means that if one of our parents was overweight or obese, we have a 40% chance of following suit, and if both parents were overweight or obese we have a 70% chance of developing the same problems. Since God created us and we have no control whatsoever over our DNA it would be logical to conclude that for many of us, given our genetic background, God made us fat!

This was the conclusion I had arrived at after years of yo-yo dieting. I had tried to lose weight so often and, being a Christian, had prayed that God would help me to stick to my diet and lose weight. Sometimes I had reasonable short-term success, but I always regained the weight and usually ended up heavier than I was before I dieted. Sound familiar? Since I had done everything I could, the only logical conclusion was to blame God for the way He had made me. My body shape (the British pear) was typically my mother, but the dimensions reflected my father’s side. He was a rugby full-back and photos of his father (I never knew him) show a short, stocky man who, rumour has it, took up two seats on a bus!

Now, however, I am able to maintain a stable, healthy weight, without dieting, and I have done so for nine years. So what does that imply concerning my fat genes? Well, I believe that the fat gene does exist and I still have it! Compared with individuals of a different body shape and genetic background, I am still more susceptible to putting weight on than maybe they would be, especially around my thighs and buttocks, but I have come to understand one very important fact…

Predisposition does not mean predetermination

Just because I have a predisposition, due to my genetic make-up, of putting on weight, does not mean that being overweight or obese is inevitable. It does mean that I have to be extra vigilant in this area; it does mean that I can’t abuse my body and get away with it, as others seem to do; it does mean that I have an inherent physical weakness which leaves me totally reliant on the grace of God to help me overcome.

God told the apostle Paul, concerning his ‘thorn in the flesh’: “My grace is made perfect in your weakness.” In other words, our need is a wonderful opportunity for God to demonstrate his power. As I have learnt to yield to the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to work in my life, I have come to recognise my body’s requirements for optimum health and am no longer enslaved to the negative effects of my genes, nor to the allurement of food which my body simply does not need. In order to become overcomers there has to be something to overcome! Right?

We cannot change our basic body shape. I tell people that if you were to put a St. Bernard dog on a diet it would never end up looking like a whippet! But God has, I believe, fit us for purpose. He has given us, individually, just the right body shape to enable us to fulfil our specific calling in life. I would never have made a ballerina or an Olympic runner, but so what?

We must learn not only to accept our body shape but also learn to love it. Isaiah 45:9 we read: Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’? Are you guilty of ‘quarrelling with your Maker’ over your basic body shape and appearance? How often do you find yourself making negative statements about yourself? How do you think God feels when we express such negative sentiments over his creation?

We should never give in to the fatalistic thinking which says that because of our genetic make-up we cannot succeed in life or that we are disadvantaged in any way. The same God who has programmed certain inherited traits into our lives has also programmed us to be winners. When we are born-again we become children of God and now we have our Heavenly Father’s DNA, the very life of God, within us. What a difference this makes! In Him our handicaps can become hurdles, our stumbling-blocks become stepping stones and our whole lives become a testimony to the grace of God.

Comments

  1. Chris on June 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm said:

    ‘I come from a fat family’ has always been my excuse. I am the 2nd of 4 girls and physically the most like our mother. She was 5’1″ and about 14 stone. So I am the shortest and struggle to lose weight – though my sisters all struggle with their weight too. Thank you for this article.

  2. Allena Andress on October 4, 2014 at 1:04 pm said:

    I am fat. There is no denying that but this problem has turned me into a person I’m not. I have very low self esteem and my academic performance is in the gutters or at least that’s what I believe. I have stretch marks all over my body and I literally can’t look at myself in the mirror. But above all this I am a womanly faith and my faith gives me hope that someday I’m gonna be able to look how I want to. This reading helped me clear my mind and raised that hope and cleared a dark patch in its way. Thank you for sharing that and changing my outlook. I just pray that I live enough to see it happen one day.

    Have a nice life

    • Thank yoou for posting this comment. You clearly have some way to go in learning to love yourself, but your journey of faith has begun. I counsel you that whenever you find yourself thinking negatively about your own body you turn your thoughts to the pierced body of your Lord hanging on that cross and marvel at His unconditional, unmeasurable love for you. Then begin to praise and thank Him for full salvation. He that has begun this good work in you will not fail you as you continue to look to Him.

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