Even If God Doesn’t Make Mistakes, Sometimes Our Genes Do

geneti3Every time a well known transgendered person comes out of the proverbial closet and publicly transitions from one gender to the other the “social conservatives”, or, as I call them, Progressives for Jesus start in with the phrase “god doesn’t make mistakes” to justify why they don’t believe that being transgendered is a real thing.

But here’s the thing, God may not make mistakes, but clearly somewhere along the line our DNA strands get a little tangled.

When I was born something wasn’t wired quite right in my body. The part of my body or brain that regulates the amount of spinal fluid I make and absorb was on a hair trigger and around the time I turned 18 it went off. I experienced pain unlike anything I had ever dealt with before for months, until a neurologist finally figured out my problem and helped me learn to manage it, saving my vision and my sanity at the same time.

When I was in high school biology we spent two weeks talking about genetic defects like Downs Syndrome, Tay Sachs, Sickle Cell, Spina Bifida, Muscular Dystrophy, ALS. We see hermaphrodites, conjoined twins, webbed fingers and toes, myopia, and dozens of other visible physical defects regulary…and not just in places with chemical spills or nuclear fall out.

I dated a woman for 3 months that suffered from severe Fibromyalgia.

My church used to raise money to pay for the surgeries of children with cleft palates in 3rd world countries.

I’ll let you have your belief that God doesn’t make mistakes. I don’t want to turn this into a debate about theology or the inerrancy of scripture or the infallibility of God.

Let’s assume, for the moment, that there are two possible directions to take this “God doesn’t make mistakes” idea that I hear so often.

The first is that God created children with Tay Sachs, Sickle Cell, Downs Syndrome, etc. on purpose and that purpose (as I’ve heard said by actual pastors) is to teach people a lesson of some sort (don’t ask me what lesson, I never figured out that part). First this means that individuals aren’t all that important to God, we’re all just pawns in some sort of long game. He’s willing to let children suffer to prove some sort of point to other people.

That doesn’t really sound like a God I want much to do with to be honest.

Or we can assume that because God is more concerned with our soul than our physical form that when we say “God doesn’t make mistakes” we mean he doesn’t make mistakes when he’s forming our souls. What happens with the genetic combinations that form our physical body isn’t something he gets involved in on a DNA strand by strand level.

If we assume the first then why do we have any scientific intervention at all? Why try to eradicate genetic disorders at all? If God gave your baby Sickle Cell or ALS or Muscular Dystrophy then who are you or your doctors to try to treat or cure it? It’s not as if we lack scientific studies on the how and why of being transgender, so it’s not as if it is just something to be dismissed as “attention seeking”. So if “god doesn’t make mistakes” then why is it more acceptable to treat or find a cure for any of the other numerous genetic disorders I’ve listed than it is for someone to go through the relatively straight forward task of taking hormones and having surgery? I very nearly had to have a shunt put into my brain, why is that so much more “natural” and “moral” than having a penis replaced by a vagina?

Unless these flaws were put there so that we can learn how to fix them, which seems like a celestial work order to dig a hole in the morning and fill it back up in the afternoon more than anything to be honest.

If we assume the second, then we assume that the genetic flaws aren’t meant to be there and we are 100% in the right to try to fix them. In which case, again, why is being transgendered any different than fixing Sickle Cell anemia?*

And yes, we get it, with science as it currently stands there’s nothing we can do to change XX to XY or vice versa. A Male to Female surgery isn’t going to put a womb and overies in someone or sperm in someone else (at least not this year) but we haven’t wiped out  ALS yet either.

God doesn’t make mistakes, but somewhere along the line the human genome did. We can either work to fix it, but we don’t get to decide that one genetic defect is “moral” to fix and the other is “playing god”.

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*Besides the obvious in that one is life threatening and the other is not. When it comes to priorities I think deadly genetic defects probably rank a little higher for me on the research and development side of things, but still.

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  1. Even If God Doesn’t Make Mistakes, Sometimes Our Genes Do | The Snark Who Hunts Back
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