Do conditions like autism, attachment disorder, ADHD, and the like affect the Christian life?
There are particular physiological and psychological conditions that make certain Scriptural guidelines harder to live up to. Specifically, guidelines regarding what the Bible says about appropriate behavior and feelings. God directly acknowledged this in Genesis 3:16 when He told Eve that her sin would affect the relationship between women and their husbands. But, despite how ingrained these conditions may be, they are foreign to how God originally created humanity. Some conditions, like addictions, may be physiological damage caused by sin which either chemically or behaviorally induces continued sin. Others come about unintentionally—by exposure to a damaging element in the environment—as a spontaneous medical condition, or congenitally.
These conditions make it particularly difficult for individuals to obey God in specific ways. Many, such as autism spectrum or attachment disorder, affect how a person shows the agape love God wishes for us. Other mental conditions make it hard to forgive others and have healthy relationships. And others, whether by damaging exposure or physical inclination, make godly sexual relationships appear impossible.
If God has allowed these physiological curses, does it mean that He has abandoned us? Does the presence of a physical or emotional imperfection that makes a sin come naturally mean that we are rejected for salvation?
People who are plagued with these overwhelming and often visible conditions need to realize that everyone is cursed to sin. Everyone is physiologically and spiritually programmed to live in a manner that does not correspond with God's plan (Romans 3:23). And God knows this. That's why He sent His Son—the only sinless man—to take on every sin. Our bodies, minds, brain chemistry, upbringing, and even choices are no match for God's power. "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). Even if everything we are fights against belief in and obedience to God, He is still bigger. Only our rejection of God will keep us from a relationship with Him.
However, these conditions may determine our struggles in our Christian walk. The work of sanctification is meant to triumph over our fleshly weaknesses and conform us to Christ's image (Romans 12:2). For those whose physiology is fighting against this in a serious way, it can be difficult. Still, it may be that the fight against such strong fleshly desires is a greater act of love toward God and others than the "normal" Christian could imagine. To diligently work against a physiological or mental condition, whether it be by staying on medication or being dedicated to occupational therapy, in order to love others better is a great example of "dying to self" (Galatians 5:24).
No brain chemistry, no imperfect mental development, and no emotional damage can keep us from the love of God. Only continued rejection of His offer of salvation. God knows our weaknesses, and salvation is not based on our strengths—it is based on His.
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