Nature vs. Nurture: Living by Promise

Nature or Nurture? Living by Promise

Prov 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Prov. 1: 8 My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother

Gal. 4:22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all...28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

For all of my life I have heard the debate about Nature vs. Nurture.  It is the scientific, cultural, and philosophical debate about whether human potential behavior, and personality are caused primarily by nature or nurture. Nature is often defined in this debate as genetic or hormone-based behaviors, while nurture is most commonly defined as environment and experience.

Children need nurture. Nurture means: care, provide conditions for growth, feed, train, develop, cultivate, monitor environmental conditions.

As a person raised by loving parents and from positive experiences growing up, the answer seems obvious to me; Nurture. However, the weight of modern culture and those who wish to exclude God from life and human development insist it is mostly about Nature. This view also supports the theory of human evolution and provide covers for behaviors such as homosexuality, bisexuality, anger, Illness, and even husbands who cheat on their wives. Many want to believe that all human behavior is genetic in origin.

In 2001, something happened in the realm of science that set back the growing consensus that behavior is mostly genetic. An article published by NOVA of the Public Broadcasting System:

“The most shocking surprise that emerged from the full sequence of the human genome earlier this year is that we are the proud owners of a paltry 30,000 genes—barely twice the number of a fruit fly. 

After a decade of hype surrounding the Human Genome Project, punctuated at regular intervals by gaudy headlines proclaiming the discovery of genes for killer diseases and complex traits, this unexpected result led some journalists to a stunning conclusion. The seesaw struggle between our genes (nature) and the environment (nurture) had swung sharply in favor of nurture. "We simply do not have enough genes for this idea of biological determinism to be right," asserted Craig Venter, president of Celera Genomics, one of the two teams that cracked the human genome last February.”

 

I believe our text somewhat illustrates this dilemma to day. People are obviously born of “flesh,” but we are can also born of “promise” through Christ. 

Nurture is far more powerful in human development than nature. Of course we understand that the spiritual sin nature is a barrier to progress. My experience growing up in the inner city and around poverty was that my parents nurtured abilities in me that my environment would have allowed to languish. 

We should nurture children and not allow nature to become an excuse, because Jesus can change the nature... and that people can do much better even before their nature changes. This is what mothers and parents do.

People who promote the nature argument, a lot of behavior is excused. Worse, is that people give up on people who are viewed as genetically challenged or inferior...without actually saying the words.

I think people wrongly conclude that nature (i.e. born into the "right" family, neighborhood, going to “right” schools, etc) is the key to progress and excellence. This is basis for gated communities and private schools.

I still hear people attribute the things I do to "talent" or nature. I remind people that I'm an expert on me! What I do is mostly because of nurture, and much less because of a nature I possess that cannot be possessed by anyone else.

In other words, the dramatic difference is made by the nurture of others not by nature, over which we have no control. This is obvious to people like us, but I think it's less obvious to many believers.

What mother’s do (make your own list)

M aking sacrifices

O pening hearts and minds

T eaching about life

H eloping at all times

E mpowering & encouraging

R equiring your best

Children need nurture growing up. Nurture means: care, provide conditions for growth, feed, train, develop, cultivate, monitor environmental conditions.

Matthew 19:13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.

Keys to Birthing & Nurturing Your Purpose. We live by promise, not by our impulses and human nature

Gal 4: 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic 

Don’t “birth” things outside of God’s plan. Avoid actions not rooted in faith in God. 

If you have given birth to things that hinder you, ask God to help you separate from those things.
“Cast out the bondwoman and her son.” 

Go for maximum freedom and blessings. Let God birth and nurture purpose in you: Gal 4:26,
but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all...28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac
was, are children of promise. 

P.R.A.Y. Pray, Read, Act, Yield

We do not lack purpose in the heart in God. We were created in God's image and likeness. That statement carries the full creative purpose of God. Have you thought "Why was I born?" The better question to ask is "Why did God create me in His image and likeness." 

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

 

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