Friday, February 04, 2005

Genes vs Grace

My third uncle passed away in Ipoh, Monday. Not unexpectedly, since he had been in and out of surgery after a tumour was found in his brain 2 or 3 years ago.

Drove down with my wife and kids, and Auntie May - my Mom’s younger sister - who told us that their brother CY was a dissolute man who almost gambled his family away. He was the family blacksheep whose name was spoken with a look of mild contempt. He would shamelessly approach relatives (including nephews young enough to be his son!) for money - always with a promise this would be the last time, that he would reform.

Incredibly, his wife and children took everything in their stride although shame kept them from meeting up with the rest of the clan more regularly. CY’s four children have done remarkably well for themselves despite constant setbacks and the occasional threats from loan sharks.

Then almost 10 years ago, things changed: the witness of Auntie May brought him to Jesus. His conversion was signaled with the delivery of a gift hamper and RM500 cash to Auntie May, thanking her for her help (and rebuke!) through the hungry years. CY went to church faithfully (by this time the rest in the family had also come to the Lord) and even took a trip to the States with a church group to a Promise Keepers Convention!

It is fashionable these days to say that gambling is genetically predisposed, an unfortunate pathology that dogs millions of compulsive gamblers. I don’t know about that. However I do believe genetics does not negate responsibility even if the range of behavioural responses may be narrower than for most. As I see it, in God’s economy, there’s always room for grace.

Awhile back, my friend DF who in a voluble moment declares belief in genetic determinism found himself between a rock and a hard place when some co-workers repeatedly failed to carry their load. “Hey, they couldn’t help themselves – didn’t you say it’s in their genes?” I joked. He admitted that determinism sound fine in theory, “but you can’t live it,” he added.

No comments: