The other day I ran into a cover of Time magazine from August of 1994. It wasn’t the date of the article that struck me, (even though it was exactly one year after I was born) but it was the words on the cover and the picture that went with them that caught my attention. In bigger letters was the word “Infidelity” with a subheading that reads “It may be in our genes”. What are we supposed to deduct from that? Now, I haven’t read the article, but I’m assuming by the cover that it is talking about how infidelity is natural and is giving, whether intentionally or not, some convenient excuses for the people who aren’t faithful to their loved ones.
I’d like to pause here and talk about the word “natural”. Think about how much you hear it daily. When I thought about it, the first things that came to my mind were natural foods and mother nature. To most people, these things come with a sense of doing good or eating healthy. I find it just a bit strange that the whole idea of natural has become such a good thing in society that we must attach a word like “disaster” to it to make it sound bad. I’m not writing this as a crusade against natural foods or mother nature or anything, in fact, I have seen some of the most beautiful things mother nature has to offer, and I’m sure we all have seen or experienced the beauty of God’s creations to some measure. I’m simply illustrating how, as a culture or society, we have become so in love with just about anything natural that hearing the word “unnatural” has become an insult. If it isn’t natural, it must be bad. We have to watch out for that when it comes to human nature.
When talking about the nature of humans, I often hear it as an excuse or acceptance of some bad behavior, such as infidelity. It’s almost like people are waving a white flag and saying “Well, I guess it’s in my genes, so no point in trying to fight it.” What a terrible idea! I’m writing this to say that we can, and should fight the so-called natural man. Almost every member of the LDS church can predict the scripture I’m about to quote. That’s right! In Romans 8:7 Paul says “For the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Not to disrespect the oft-quoted Mosiah 3:19, that’s a great one too) What Paul is saying is that there is no room for change in the natural man. He is what he is and there is absolutely nothing we or anyone can do to change that. Isn’t it sad that we as humans subscribe to that to justify something as bad as infidelity among other things? I’m not going to give you a list of things people do and ways the natural man is in opposition to God, I’ll sum it up by going back to what my friend, Paul had to say in Romans 3:23 “We all sin and come short…”
No one is perfect, or will be in this life, but that doesn’t mean we should just give up and submit to the natural or carnal mind. So, what do we do about it? Can we change? The answer is yes! We can change, absolutely. The bigger question is how? How do we get to the root of the natural man, dig him out of us and change? President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave one of my favorite talks ever in the October 2013 General Conference entitled “You can do it now!” In it, he talks about how all of us want to be respected and how we all want to be champions, but we can’t get there without making mistakes. And we certainly have no remote shot of getting there without Christ. The way to become a champion of life and to defeat the natural man is made clear in the address when he says: “We have a champion, a Savior, who walked through the valley of the shadow of death on our behalf… when we decide to come to Him, when we take upon ourselves His name and boldly walk in the path of discipleship, then through the Atonement we are promised not only happiness and ‘peace in this world’ but also ‘eternal life in the world to come.’”
I haven’t done specific research on whether infidelity is in our genes, but I would venture to guess, based on all I know about the natural man, that it is. And even if it isn’t, I know there are a lot of things in our genes that make us imperfect, and there is nothing we can do to control whether we have those genes, that’s the natural man. But we certainly can control what we do about it. I’m not saying I or anyone on this earth has the “insta-perfect” potion that makes all the fallacies of the natural man just disappear, but I do know someone. Someone who has walked this earth before and knows all the ways to defeat the natural man, He is the Messiah, He is the redeemer because he redeems us from the fall or from the natural man. Following Him is not the easy way, it is not the path of least resistance, but it is the most rewarding path. Much more rewarding than submitting to the human nature in all of us. He will not force His hand into our lives, but if we put our faith and trust in him, we will be able to change and become better. I know it, I’ve seen it in my life and I couldn’t be more grateful than I am that I have chosen to follow him, and let him help me to become the best human I can be.