To what evil do your genes lead you?

Porn Gene may complicate future court cases: Last year, an appeals court judge ruled that genes are at fault for pedophilic tendencies. Part of the court report says,

In determining Cossey’s sentence, the district court rejected two separate psychological evaluations that had found Cossey was at a low to moderate risk to re-offend. … The court dismissed those reports, explaining that “[t]he opinions of the psychologists and the psychiatrists as to what harm you may pose to those children in the future is virtually worthless here.” One reason the court offered was that it did not “have a lot of faith in that profession in the first place” because the profession is “all over the board on those issues.” The court continued, informing Cossey it needed “to share a view that’s a little different than what you’re hearing from your psychiatrists and that’s because I’m not sure there’s any answer for what I see here beyond what I’m about to tell ya.” The court predicted that some fifty years from now Cossey’s offense conduct would likely be discovered to be caused by “a gene you were born with. And it’s not a gene you can get rid of.” The court expressed its belief that although Cossey was in therapy, it “can only lead, in my view, to a sincere effort on your part to control, but you can’t get rid of it. You are what you’re born with. And that’s the only explanation for what I see here.”

(If you’d like to read the full court case, it can be found here. This quote is the paragraph that begins at the bottom of page four and continues onto the top of page five.)

There’s some interesting things in this court case. First, the judge seems to dispose of psychological profiles with a sweep of the hand. Whether or not you like psychologists, you have to admit that it’s a gutsy move.

I’m honestly more than a little frightened that the judge believes that pedophilia can be pinned on a certain defective gene. There’s any number of things that can be wrong with this:

  • Does that mean I might as well stop fighting against my baser inclinations, since that’s just the way I’ve been made? I can’t help it, it’s my genetics!
  • Does that mean I am destined by my genetic makeup to break certain laws?
  • Does that mean that, in the future, if I am found to have such a genetic deformity, I can be locked up before I actually commit any crime?
  • Does that mean that, in the future, we can have genetic therapy to fix such deformities? Do we think we can eliminate crime this way?

Genetic determinism is a terrible philosophy, which this judge is (at least) playing with. Such a view ultimately says we are nothing more than fancy computers and have no choice is our actions. That philosophical tyranny leads to terrible results. I think immediately of movies like Gattaca or, to a similar extent, Minority Report (as an aside, do yourself a favor and read the original Philip K. Dick short story the movie’s based on; I found it much better).

Of course, such a society is rife for science fiction ideas, as I alluded to already. The judgment brings that dystopian nightmare closer to reality.

I do see one slight ray of hope in the judgment: “You can’t get rid of it. You are what you’re born with.” The judge did not speak this way by accident. He may think it’s because of a defective gene, but the truth is we are born with a terrible inclination to evil. We all know it. We can see that the world is in terrible shape and we can’t seem to make it better. The judge calls it a defective gene.

I call it original sin. We can’t get rid of it. We are born with a terrible stain. We cannot choose not to sin; at best, we choose which sins we pursue. We are inclined to favorite sins. We are slaves to this nature.

The only hope for us is not punishment. Well, at least, it’s not punishment for us. You can’t lock up your sinful nature. You can’t reform it. It is a terrible, malicious spirit that delights only in evil.

Our hope is the punishment that brings us peace, but that punishment is not on us. The punishment that brings us peace was upon Him. By Jesus’ wounds we are healed.

In faith, the Holy Spirit creates a new man in us. This new man and the sinful nature will struggle until death. The war will be fierce. Because the Spirit has created faith in us, we need not fear. Jesus has promised that he will lose none that have been given to him.

The judge was a little right when he said we can’t get rid of it. I wish he hadn’t blamed genetics; if we ever find a genetic reason for such crimes as pedophilia, it will only be a physical manifestation of a spiritual truth: we are born in sin, and that sin will rule over us…

…until Jesus frees us.

One thought on “To what evil do your genes lead you?

  1. Totally agree. That’s like saying that I don’t have to listen to my mom because I’m genetically faulty in hearing. Not right.
    It is not right to lock up someone before they actually do something. If there is any way to remove the symptoms, go for it. But don’t assume that that person is going to live that way.
    We definitely have original sin; knowing that it can take a visible form in our lives just shows how much we need Him.

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