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Good Friday Genetics

What we do and what we experience change who we are. It has been established genetically. Identical twins can end up with very different gene switching (on or off) due to differences in life choices and experiences. And then there are correlations between sickness and such things as anger, unforgiveness, and depression. The Bible states observantly that a cheerful heart is good medicine while a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Healthy relationships with contentment and a thankful attitude generally result in a healthier body and mind. And don’t forget about the genetics. It’s fascinating to me how often the culture speaks of peoples in the past as being ignorant or not very sophisticated. The assumption is that we are smarter, more technologically advanced, more sophisticated in our understanding of the universe. Really? What about the pyramids and ancient Egypt? What about the military genius of Alexander the Great? Then there are the Roman aqueducts and roads. Oh, and minds like Plato, Aristotle, St Augustine of Hippo – and brilliant oddball apostates like Tertullian and his view known as Traducianism (late 2nd and early 3rd century AD, in case you were wondering). His view got more traction than you might think. Please understand that I am not advocating for this view. I don’t think it is the right explanation, although I do find it fascinating. The view Tertullian put forth was basically that the soul or spirit, the immaterial part of a person, was generated along with the material portion, the body, by means of the natural coupling of a man and a woman and a resultant pregnancy. So in some respects, he was merging the philosophical discussion about what a human being is or consists of with something that sounds an awful lot like genetics. But this isn’t why Traducianism took hold. The reason it spread had to do with how it provided an explanation for the transmission of Original Sin from the parents to their children. Which is the point of contact with what I was beginning to say earlier, and which brings us back to the beginning of this post. Our choices, our actions, our contexts have consequences. They change us, even at the genetic level. What we do affects others, which has the potential to turn on and off their gene switches, and of course we may all then pass that genetic material on to future generations. It’s a wonder that the darkness of our sin and brokenness hasn’t completely destroyed the human race… But of course, it works both ways. The evils we experience and perpetrate change us, but so does the good we experience and do. And what might salvation, and a transformed heart and mind in Christ do to the inner workings of a person right down to the cellular level? The old nursery song had a lot of truth for living in it. “Be careful little eyes what you see… little ears what you hear… little tongues what you say… little hands what you do… little feet where you go… little minds what you think.” It makes a profound difference for the future. And Church – preach the Gospel! – it just might save the world.

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