By now, you’ve probably heard about the two parents in Canada who are keeping their infant baby’s gender a secret (read about it here or watch above). Why are they doing this? It’s not because there is any physiological ambiguity in the baby. They are doing this because they don’t want their child shoehorned into culturally defined gender stereotypes. Rather, they want their baby (whom they’ve named “Storm”) to make his/her own decisions about his/her own gender.
There is at least one item in this story that every Christian parent needs to make a note of. Storm’s parents have made a decision that is merely the logical consequence of mainstream feminist gender theory. If you think I’m exaggerating, please note that there’s a reason that the folks at Ms. Magazine are generally appreciative of this approach and are already trying to conjure up gender-neutral pronouns to account for Storm’s case.
According to their view, sex is a biological category and gender is a sociological one. A person’s sex is determined by their chromosomes and resulting anatomy. A person’s gender is something that one acquires through socialization. For feminists and contemporary gender theorists, there is no necessary connection between one’s sex and one’s gender. If a biologically male person wants to adopt the characteristics of the feminine gender, then that’s okay. This person is merely exercising his freedom to choose by casting off social constraints that would otherwise stifle individual liberty.
Storm’s parents are trying to create a miniature feminist utopia for their child. They want to free Storm from the expectation that little boys should think and act like boys and that little girls should think and act like girls. They want Storm to figure out whether or not to behave in feminine ways or masculine ways, and they don’t want the matter decided by Storm’s biological sex.
Christians need to think very carefully about this caseâ€”not only about Storm in particular, but also about the underlying worldview issues in play. Is it true that there is no normative connection between one’s sex and one’s gender? Are there certain roles that God calls Christians to fulfill that are based on one’s biological sex? Biblically speaking, the answer to the first question has to be no, and the answer to the second has to be yes. In other words when God created human beings as male and female, he assigned roles to them that are organically connected to their biological sex.
Men are created by God to be leaders, protectors, and providers for their families (Ephesians 5:25, 28-29; 1 Corinthians 11:3). Women are called to be “helpers” to their husbands and to have a special responsibility in the home (Genesis 2:18; Proverbs 31:27; Titus 2:5). God created man and woman such that they would be peculiarly suited for their respective tasks. We live in a fallen world, and no one is perfect. But this is the order of things as God established it in the Garden before there was any sin in the world (Genesis 1-2).
God’s design for us as sexual beings has implications for how we rear our children. For instance, I have a little boy, and it falls to me to teach him how to be a manâ€”how to lead, to provide, and to protect. It is my responsibility as a parent to guide and shape his character as best I can so that he will be a protector of women, not an abuser of them. I am to model for him that sometimes being a man means going without so as to provide for others. I am to teach him that working and earning a living is a part of what it means to be the provider God has called him to be.
Parents make a grave mistake when they make child-rearing into a choose-your-own-adventure storybook for their children. It falls to parents to shape their children and to direct them in the paths that they need to walk in (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Proverbs 22:6). That means that our goal as parents is to teach boys to become men, and girls to become women. To miss this is to miss the point of childrearing. To miss this is to miss what it means to make disciples of our own children.
Ideas have consequences. And here is one case in which feminist gender theory has trickled-down into the cultural mainstream. This is why Christian parents need to be vigilant about what ideas are influencing them. Parents, are you raising your boys to become men and your girls to become women? If you aren’t doing that, you’re not “freeing” your children from oppressive stereotypes; you are leaving them to be blown about and shaped by the spirit of the age. God has marked out a clear path for us in His word when it comes to childrearing. We love our children best when we follow it.