The Genetics of Sin

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There is a lot being done in the medical field to help patients understand their genetic predisposition toward certain ailments.  Isn’t the same true for spiritual ailments?  Don’t we inherit some of these same tendencies from our parents and their parents and so on? 

Anyone who’s been to a family reunion has surely noticed that even if we have been apart for a long time, when we get together, we notice our similar traits.  Are those commonalities due to nature or nurture?  Truth be told, probably both, but it has been proven that many criminal behaviors, such as violence, are influenced by genetics.  Are other sins and personality traits also hereditary?  Here are a few to consider (think of your own family or your spouse’s):

  • Naivete, gullability
  • Passive-aggressive behavior, being a martyr
  • Being self-absorbed
  • Holding grudges
  • Over-intellectualizing
  • Rationalizing
  • Laziness
  • Addictions
  • Sarcasm and criticism
  • Melodramatic outbursts
  • Gluttony
  • Being passive or indecisive
  • Anger issues
  • Permissiveness
  • Cheating at cards – you people know who you are
  • Pyromania

Here’s a case study.  A good friend of ours got arrested once for shoplifting.  He was just a kid at the time and was really upset while they were booking him.  He begged them not to tell his mom.  One of the officers rolled his eyes at this, and they all thought this was hilarious.  As it turned out, his mom was regularly picked up for shoplifting.  Coincidence?

So, what’s the point of all this navel-gazing?  What is to be gained from considering our familial weaknesses?

  • Learn from their mistakes.  Sometimes you have to know the good, the bad, and the ugly to make use of the lesson.  Frankly, white-washed journals just don’t cut it in my book.  I’d like to know who these people really were.  Warts and all.  Because I can probably relate.  But that’s just me.
  • Self-knowledge, understand our own motivations.  It can help you to know that you really do have a lot in common with these people.  Despite all evidence (or wishful thinking) to the contrary.
  • Be a better parent.  Do any of you ever feel like you are raising one of your parents (because one of your kids is just like one of your parents)?  I have had that feeling.
  • Marry wisely.  Maybe you need to marry someone with similar flaws so you can relate.
  • Mix up that gene pool.  Or perhaps its time to bust out of that familial rut and mix your angry genes with some passive genes or your skeptical genes with some gullible genes.

As the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  So, do you think the sins we have to work through in life are influenced by genetic factors?  Is this one of the untapped benefits of genealogy?  What traits do you think you got from your family that you are hoping you didn’t pass on?  Do you think about your family traits this way?  Discuss.