SGBC Modesto

Are We Nothing More than Robots?

April 13, 2024 by

Johnnie Sloan

This article reflects what a friend of mine calls an “ah ha!” moment.  It happens rather frequently to me.  I suppose I may, at times, be a bit too analytical to see the obvious.  The Lord Jesus often used this fact about men, viz, that they are usually enslaved to their assumptions so they are unable at times to see the forest for the trees.  Many of the parables come “from behind” as it were, in order to, as someone has said, ‘interrupt prejudice’ on the part of the hearer.

There is a criticism often leveled at Christians and specifically the Calvinist who holds a strong view (as I do) of predestination, election and the complete inability in man to choose God.  In the free-will discussion it usually expresses itself something like this:

The strong Calvinist might say: We are totally unable to choose God of our own ‘free-will’.  Our will has been corrupted because of sin and is unwilling to choose to serve Christ.  Our will is in bondage and not free from the effects of sin.  God must choose us and do a work in us in order for us to do His will

Many non-Calvinists and unbelievers as well respond: Then aren’t we just robots? Are you suggesting we do not have a choice in the matter? Are we just puppets? Doesn’t God have to give me free-will, so that I will choose Him out of love and not because He forces me to? Or, as a friend once asked me with regard to a lost family member, “In your belief my family member is just consigned to their fate, right?”

Enter the point where the Theological and Biblical arguments are made to prove that it is altogether our choice to sin and our enslavement was a matter of our will and therefore it is quite fair for God to judge us guilty of sin even though we can no longer (post fall) choose God.  (As an aside, I have often asked what would be wrong with God having robots for Himself?  We make things for our pleasure and have pets and no one accuses us of tyranny, but that is another article.)  No, my point here is what I find to be a glaring inconsistency in critics of an enslaved will to sin or a lack of choice toward God.  This flaw is condemning of both believers who would make excuses for sinful behavior and those outside the Church who seek to justify the same. 

Here is the thesis:  Folks who say we must have free-will in order to choose God cannot at the same time say they have no choice in their lifestyle because of the way they were made by God. In other words, in our lifestyle, either we have a choice or we do not.

Case in point: a common assertion of the homosexual community is that God ‘made me this way.’ Isn’t that assertion the same thing we conservatives are accused of saying?  Namely, that God has robbed them of choice?  If He does not allow free choice, then isn’t He a tyrant?  Well, what if He does not allow a choice in sexual orientation or morality?  It seems He has taken away the homosexual’s free-will, doesn’t it?  Or, for that matter, the pornography addict, alcoholic, the lazy person… aren’t all of these things ‘just the way people are’?  Hasn’t God left these folks without a choice by making them a certain way genetically?  This assertion could be carried further ad absurdum – isn’t God a tyrant for not giving us all the choice to be a great athlete or scientist by making us lack the gifts and skills necessary for those?

This is a glaring inconsistency that has many implications. In the counseling ministry, we have heard someone say, ‘I can’t help it!’ or ‘that is just the way I am.’  Do these people realize they are accusing God of making them choice-less robots?  Possibly even to the point of judging God of sin? (as Adam did in suggesting God having given Eve to Adam is what caused his demise).  Now, the response may be that we conservatives do this same thing, but a further study will show that we really believe in a free-will, i.e. free from outside compulsion or free from God using force to cause us to sin.  But it is a will that is enslaved to a sin nature.  So, for us it is consistent to say I choose to sin (of my own free-will or free from compulsion) and cannot do otherwise (because of my nature).  Further, it is consistent for us to say that an immoral lifestyle like homosexuality is not something thrust upon people by a tyrannical choice-robbing god, but rather a choice of the homosexual who is enslaved to a sin nature.  The choice is consistent with the nature – sinful.

God is not pulling marionette strings and depriving anyone of choice or making them choose sin.  We all choose to sin freely and without compulsion – we are not robots.  We are sinners.  And when an action or behavior is condemned by God, it is simply an act of our will to do it in disobedience and not because He has programmed or made us to do so.

It is the opinion of this writer that it would be very cruel for us to be enslaved to our behavior with no hope of escape because we were ‘made that way’ and cannot change it.  It is far less cruel and even wonderfully merciful for our Savior to see us corrupt because of our choice and choose Himself to redeem us in spite of our terrible exercise of will.  And it is further inconsistent to say I can choose God and I cannot choose to abandon my homosexuality, alcoholism, bad temper, etc. because I am made that way.

When someone is malnourished and will not or cannot eat, often times we force feed them.  Is this cruel or unloving?  Thankfully God force-feeds sinners His mercy and grace!  And thankfully He gives a new nature to His children, so they will in fact choose to trust and obey out of love for Him.  Does God hate homosexuality? Yes. Does he tyrannically consign folks to their doom by ‘making them’ thus?  No.  To be consistent, we must say sin (all kinds) is our choice and Salvation is God’s choice.

We ought to take special care in accusing God of robbing us of choice – whether we do it as believers or as unbelievers.  We all are children of wrath by nature (Ephesians 2:3) and this nature came by choice (Romans 5; Genesis 3).  In fact, we ought to take special care in accusing God of anything!

 Romans 9:20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?”