When Do We Forgive Genetics?

By Carol McClain

@carol   _mcclain

When do we admit genetics makes us do those things we ought not to do?

In preparation for my next book I’ve been reading about psychopaths. The salient feature of this character trait is that psychopaths are born aberrant. One family could raise the next president, Mother Teresa and a serial killer.

Seventy-five percent of the incarcerated people are clinically diagnosed psychopaths. Most are male.

So my question is, at what point do we say, “I’m genetically programmed this way, so I cannot follow social mores?”

I cannot question the incarceration of cold-blooded, indifferent criminals. The question now I need to ask is controversial and can give me a lot of negative blowback.

Can we blithely encourage behavior that violates long-proven social mores?


The most obvious variant deals with homosexuality, transgender, et al? As the alternate-sexuality expands, its acronym has expanded. It now looks like a mixed up alphabet.  The latest is: LGBTQIAPK (you can look up all the components–sometimes the only orientation not accepted is heterosexuality). When does our compassion begin to accept pedophiles, bestiality and necrophilia because people are biologically programmed this way? Can we continue to say anything goes because I’m genetically predispositioned?

My go-to example of dealing with genetics has been my own fear of my alcoholism. Raised in a family of alcoholics, I decided to never drink because alcoholism has an hereditary link. I’ve exhibited  characteristics–whether from the dare-devil ignorance of youth or congenital factors. Once I became I Christian, I made the decision, on my own and not from any Biblical directive, to never imbibe. I am “deprived” of the chill-out glass of wine or the fun, trendy craft-brews or exotic martinis. It’s the price of heredity.

The same can be said of food addiction, or many others. Genetics propel people in the wrong direction. It does not give us a license to indulge.

This blog is not a blanket condemnation of diverse sexuality or obesity or drinking disorders. It’s more of a search for where we draw the lines.

Psychopaths cannot roam free. They cannot be trusted. Still, they drew a short-straw in their genetics as did those with Downs or spina bifida. The question rests, how do we handle our lives when genetics put us on a painful path?

The Answer I’ve Found

My answer is following the counsel of the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:15-17 says: “…the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”


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