A few years ago, Lady Gaga came out with her hit song “Born This Way”—which I still hear over the radio often. It’s catchy, and I’m sure many of us could easily sing along to the chorus. But I recently took a closer look at the lyrics, and became rather concerned. The gist is that there’s nothing wrong with loving and being proud of who we are because God made us perfect and He makes no mistakes.
This message echoes what the world tells us: embrace who we are. There is certainly some truth to this statement, since we each have unique experiences and gifts that God calls us to celebrate by using in the service of others. It is dangerous, however, to take this view to an extreme.
As the lyrics say, God makes no mistakes. The problem is that we humans make a whole lot of them. When God made Adam and Eve, He made them in His own image, and He declared them “very good” (Genesis 1). But Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, and so invited sin and death into this world (Genesis 3). Things have been messed up ever since, and because of our sin, we are not perfect, but very flawed instead.
As humans, we constantly struggle with sin. I am prideful, stubborn, and argumentative, for example. Some of us may struggle with alcoholism or addiction. Others might be pathological gossips. Our innate personalities certainly play a large role in who we are, but these flaws are certainly not cause for celebration.
God created me to bear His image (Genesis 1:27), but through my imperfections and a whole host of bad lifestyle choices and attitudes, I have perverted that beautiful image. My behavior often hurts those around me and breaks God’s heart. I am not the person God intended me to be. As David once wrote, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). Being “born this way” is not an excuse for my actions; it is a great tragedy that I am cursed to struggle with daily.
But there is hope! David continues by praying to God: “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7). Though we are stained by our sinful thoughts and actions, God is ultimately able to wash us clean. Jesus “has freed us from our sins by His blood” (Revelation 1:5). My sins are no longer counted against me, and I will not let them define who I am.
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). By God’s grace, I can fight against the sin I was born with. Though I will likely struggle against certain sins for the rest of my life, I rest in the knowledge that my fight has already been won by Jesus Christ when He died on the cross for me. And that one day, I too will be made perfect, the way God always intended me to be.