Is it cruel and harmful to acknowledge your baby’s gender?

Christin Scarlett Milloy says calling a baby a “boy” or a “girl” at birth is like playing Russian roulette with your baby’s life. Why? Because what if your baby grows up to disagree with the gender they were assigned at birth? Milloy says that such children grow up depressed and perhaps suicidal. Milloy’s argues, therefore, that we should not risk a child’s well-being by assigning him/her a gender at birth. Instead, we should just let them figure it out for themselves.

Milloy says it’s “insidious” and cruel for a doctor delivering a baby to say “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” Milloy writes:

Obstetricians, doctors, and midwives commit this procedure on infants every single day, in every single country. In reality, this treatment is performed almost universally without even asking for the parents’ consent, making this practice all the more insidious. It’s called infant gender assignment: When the doctor holds your child up to the harsh light of the delivery room, looks between its legs, and declares his opinion: It’s a boy or a girl, based on nothing more than a cursory assessment of your offspring’s genitals.

Milloy continues:

With infant gender assignment, in a single moment your baby’s life is instantly and brutally reduced from such infinite potentials down to one concrete set of expectations and stereotypes, and any behavioral deviation from that will be severely punished—both intentionally through bigotry, and unintentionally through ignorance. That doctor (and the power structure behind him) plays a pivotal role in imposing those limits on helpless infants, without their consent, and without your informed consent as a parent. This issue deserves serious consideration by every parent, because no matter what gender identity your child ultimately adopts, infant gender assignment has effects that will last through their whole life.

After I read this article, I wondered if this moral insanity really needed any commentary. After all, has the cultural mainstream really moved so off-kilter as to accept the asinine suggestion that it’s cruel to treat little boys like boys and little girls like girls?

We are indeed watching the transgender revolution unfold before our very eyes. This is what happens when gender identity is severed from its natural connection to sexual identity. Gender revisionists like Milloy simply assume that your biological sex should not define who you are. Having male reproductive organs doesn’t necessarily make you boy, and having female reproductive organs doesn’t necessarily make you a girl. If you feel your gender identity to be at variance with your sexual identity, then trust your feelings not your body. You are what you feel, not what God made you to be.

And that is what is at the root of this latest stage of the sexual revolution. The sexual revolutionaries are in open rebellion against a God who made us in His image as male and female—a binary that the Lord Jesus himself affirmed as normative (Matt. 19:4). So this conversation is not merely a secular argument about words. It’s a spiritual struggle for the truth of who we are and who God is. Contrary to Milloy’s claims, denying those truths by denying bodily identity does not lead to human wholeness and flourishing. It undermines them.

————

Further reading on transgender:

Denny Burk, “Training Our Kids in a Transgender World” in Good: The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood, ed. Strachan and Parnell, pp. 87-102 (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2014).

39 Responses to Is it cruel and harmful to acknowledge your baby’s gender?

  1. Jason Owens June 27, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    You mean that wasn’t tongue in cheek. I kept waiting for the rick-roll.

  2. Don Johnson June 27, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    There are some hard cases, declaring that such does not exist does not mean they go away.

    • Denny Burk June 27, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

      Nobody’s saying that hard cases don’t exist. We know that they do.

  3. bobbistowellbrown June 27, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

    I’ve never known any transgender people until my cousin decided to become one. I expect we will be seeing more transgender people “come out” now. I wanted to be a boy until about the 6th grade. I say go with the chromosomes. God made us male and female. Would He lie to us?

    • Don Johnson June 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

      One’s DNA is not always either XX or XY. And if one is XY (male) one can have androgen insensitivity syndrome, which means externally, one has a female body, in some cases hyper feminine like a super model.

      • bobbistowellbrown June 28, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

        So God lied about making us male and female?

        • Don Johnson June 29, 2014 at 12:15 am #

          I would not ask the question that way. But the world is broken.

      • John Klink, Jr. June 28, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

        Just a question: Are you saying that someone whose DNA doesn’t match the physical organs (such as your example) and someone who claims their psycological gender to be at varience with their DNA and biological organs are essencially the same kind of scenario?

        • Don Johnson June 29, 2014 at 12:20 am #

          I think this area is complex and the complexity acknowledged.

          • Johnny Mason June 29, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

            Don, its not complex. It is quite simple.

            Homosexuality is wrong and a sin. There will be no excuse. You are not born that way.and you can change. Sin is irrational and there is freedom, redemption, and power in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

            Gender confusion is wrong and a sin. There will be no excuse. You are not born that way and you can change. Sin is irrational and there is freedom, redemption, and power in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

            You are wrong. You are telling lies and falsehoods and you continue to lead the saints astray. The only thing you should be doing is repenting and seeking forgiveness.

            • Tammy Rainey June 30, 2014 at 11:56 pm #

              “Homosexuality is wrong and a sin.” So? Off topic.

              “Gender confusion is wrong and a sin.”

              You’ll have to provide some proof on that one. Simply declaring it as if “everybody knows” is not good enough. Show your work.

              ” You are not born that way and you can change”

              not true in most cases. There are some people who are “confused” because of some environmental impact such as having been molested, and those people I agree can be restored. Those who are born that way, and yes most of them are, cannot be expected to change as your asking God to heal a thing that he is not disallowed. If you believe he has disallowed it then I invite you to show your work.

              “You are wrong. You are telling lies and falsehoods and you continue to lead the saints astray. ”

              in Internet parlance: No U.

              • Johnny Mason July 1, 2014 at 12:02 am #

                Deuteronomy 22:5 – A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.

                Gender confusion is a sin. They are not born that way and the worst thing we can do is to tell them lies and falsehoods.

                • Tammy Rainey July 1, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

                  so, I’m sure if a woman throws on her husband’s flannel shirt to work in the garden she is sinning, right?

                  More to the point, there are denominations which argue that this verse requires that women not wear pants. Do you disagree with this interpretation? If you do, then upon what basis do you get to impose your interpretation on those who disagree?

                  Oh, and do you enforce verse 11 in the same chapter with equal vigor? after all, it deals with clothing right?

                  Or even better, I’m sure that you’re passionate in your advocacy for the application of verses 20 through 29 in the same chapter to modern society, correct?

                  I’m sorry my friend, selective theology won’t fly. If verses found together in Levitical law do not all apply then you have to explain why some do and some do not, and I wish you very good luck in explaining why verse five applies in verse 11 does not, even if you can dodge the whole stoning business.

                  • Johnny Mason July 2, 2014 at 12:28 am #

                    The Word of God is a delight to His children. They take joy in His Word..

                    Now as a child there were things I did not understand concerning the rules my parents put in place. Some seemed silly or irrational, but as a parent you see the wisdom of these rules and why they were there. Rules are there to protect us, to help us to mature, and in the case of God, to be Holy as He is Holy. So I may not understand every law He has in place, but I know it is there for our good.

                    With that said, let’s look at the issue of mixed clothing. God wanted Israel to be a people that was set apart; that was not like the culture and nations around them and that was to be a light to the nations. And many of the laws put in place reflect that desire and intent.

                    The dietary laws is one example. The rules put in place in regards to clean/unclean foods was done to show that the nation of Israel was set apart from all the other nations. That they were God’s people. That they were a clean people from among the unclean nations.

                    Now why do I say this? Jump to Acts 10 and Peter’s vision. He sees unclean animals and God tells him to eat. Peter, being a good jewish boy, says he has never eaten any unclean food. Then God tells Peter that what God has made clean, to no longer consider unclean. Peter, upon waking up from the vision, sees Cornelius and understands right away that the vision signified that Gentiles were no longer unclean and they too shared in the promises of God through Jesus Christ.

                    So the clean/unclean food distinction was symbolic of the status of Jews and Gentiles in the OT, but now that Christ had come the Gentiles were no longer unclean and hence these dietary laws no longer apply. The clean/unclean distinction is no longer valid because all are clean in Christ Jesus.

                    Now let’s look at an interesting passage by Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:9-10.

                    “For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops.”

                    God is not concerned about oxen, is He? So Paul points out that this passage from Deuteronomy 25:4 is not really about oxen, but is there for our sake. It was there to show that the worker of God can share in the harvest. In verse 11 Paul explains that if he sowed spiritual things in you, should he not be able to reap material things from you.

                    Now what does this have to do with mixed clothing? Is God really concerned with mixed fabrics or is it there for our sake? Does it symbolize something else, particularly now that Christ has come? And I would argue that it symbolized Israels purity and holiness as God’s people and that they were not to mix with the surrounding nations. That they were to only marry with their own people and not take foreign wives. They are God’s holy people and no mixture was allowed. But, now that Christ has come, and all are clean in Christ Jesus, then this mixture among the Gentiles is perfectly legal (as long as they are believers (i.e. clean)). So the prohibition on mixed clothing is no longer valid, just like the designation of clean/unclean foods is no longer in place.

                    So take joy in the Word of God and in His Law. It is there for our sake and for our good.

                    • Don Johnson July 2, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

                      This is one of the worst examples of eisegesis I have seen in a long time. You are just making stuff up out of whole cloth. Do not listen to tradition that you have been taught, Jesus said that traditions of men can negate Scripture.

                      Nowhere does it say that Peter ate unclean food, even in his vision. Nowhere does it say that the clean/unclean distinction was a symbol for Jews and gentiles, you made that up. God is concerned with oxen, but God is more concerned about people. Nowhere does it say that Israel was not to “mix with” people from the surrounding nations, you are sadly mistaken. Nowhere does it say that the prohibition on mixed clothing for Jews has been abrogated. How wrong can someone be in a few short sentences?

                    • bobbistowellbrown July 2, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

                      Just off the top of my head I think Johnny is right see Galatians 2:11-14
                      “And when Kephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. And the rest of the Jews (also) acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Kephas in front of all, ‘If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews ?’

                    • Don Johnson July 2, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

                      It is true one should not compel a gentile to live like a Jew. Mr. Mason never said that. He made a lot of other claims that are simply not close to being true.

                    • Johnny Mason July 2, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

                      Don, Galatians 2 has Peter eating unclean food. The Israelites were not to marry (i.e. mix with) people from the surrounding nations (Deut 7:3, Ezra 10:2).

                    • Johnny Mason July 2, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

                      Also, Acts 11 shows that Peter recognized that the vision showed that the Gentiles were no longer unclean . What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy. And God used the image of unclean animals to make this point. Which means that the clean/unclean food distinction can be a symbol for God’s relationship with the Jews and Gentiles. Peter realized that the Gentiles could also be children of God through Christ Jesus.

                      Acts 11:18
                      “When they heard this, they [q]quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

                    • Johnny Mason July 2, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

                      Or lets take Deuteronomy 22:10 – You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. This verse appears right before the verse about mixed fabrics (v.11). This also speaks of not being unequally yoked.

                      2 Corinthians 6:14 – Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

                      Which speaks to not marrying unbelievers, so the passage in Deuteronomy and 2 Corinthians are linked, with the passage in Deuteronomy being symbolic of unequally yoked marriages.

                      So why do you have a problem with the prohibition on mixed clothing being symbolic of the Israelites not marrying people from the surrounding nations?

                    • Johnny Mason July 2, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

                      And one more thing just to hammer home the point of clean/unclean food being a distinctive mark for the people of God.

                      Deuteronomy 14:2-3 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.

                      It is because the people of God are to be a holy people unto Himself, above all the nations of the Earth that God instituted the dietary laws. The Bible makes this clear. Which is why God used the vision of unclean foods to show Peter that the Gentiles were no longer to be considered unclean, but Holy as well.

                    • Don Johnson July 2, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

                      Gal 2 says Peter ate with gentiles but this does not mean he ate unclean animals. Peter was apostle to the Jews, this means Jews would examine him to see if they could find any fault. It is true that the so-called Oral Torah of the Pharisees said to not eat with gentiles, but Peter did not need to follow that. However, when eating in mixed gentile and Jewish company, I expect to eat kosher, on the principle of deference. And this is how I read Peter eating with gentiles, making a point to violate the (so-called) Oral Torah when it negated Written Torah, but not violating Written Torah.

                    • Don Johnson July 2, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

                      Gentiles as a general rule are not holy, as they do not follow the one true God. Believing gentiles are another thing, yes, they are holy also.

                      God specified lots of things to keep the Israelites/Jews apart, eating kosher, wearing tzitzit, keeping Sabbath and other Jewish identity markers. Gentiles do not need to do any of these, but can choose to do so if they wish.

                      However, doing Jewish identity marker type things if one is a Jew does not mean one is holy and not doing them if one is gentile does not mean one is holy or not holy. What makes one holy is accepting Jesus, both Jew and gentile.

                    • Johnny Mason July 2, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

                      “However, doing Jewish identity marker type things if one is a Jew does not mean one is holy and not doing them if one is gentile does not mean one is holy or not holy. What makes one holy is accepting Jesus, both Jew and gentile.”

                      You will get no argument from me on that.

                    • Don Johnson July 3, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

                      Johnny Mason asked: “So why do you have a problem with the prohibition on mixed clothing being symbolic of the Israelites not marrying people from the surrounding nations?”

                      I have a problem because they are different things. Israelites were not to intermarry with the 7 Canaanite tribes. Once the Jewish diaspora happened, it was not possible to avoid mixing with other groups. The prohibition on mixed clothing is a Jewish identity marker, so I do not see it as symbolic of intermarriage.

        • Tammy Rainey June 30, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

          ” Are you saying that someone whose DNA doesn’t match the physical organs (such as your example) and someone who claims their psycological gender to be at varience with their DNA and biological organs are essencially the same kind of scenario?”

          He my not be, but I will. your sexual identity (I think it’s better to say sexual than gender because in the case of a transsexual your own physical integrity matters more than a societal gender role) originates in the brain not from your gonads. That should be self-evident. No other part of your body thinks.

          Still, the brain is a physical organ just like the gonads of the chromosomes so logically the occasional atypical sexual construct will from time to time affect the person’s brain. If you set aside tradition, emotion, and the “ick” factor the thesis is perfectly obvious.

    • Tammy Rainey June 30, 2014 at 11:43 pm #

      the subject has been pretty thoroughly examined and a couple of previous threads but you use the phrasing that I couldn’t let slip by. You said your cousin “decided to become one” and that would be an inaccurate statement. Either your cousin always was and hid it from you or else they’re not now. One does not “decide” out of the clear blue sky to do something so incredibly difficult if they have another option.

      The other two points you made have been repeatedly refuted. Chromosomes are not always determinative, and the fact that they are not makes the question: if they can be atypical then why cannot any other function of the body? Likewise “God created” those people with atypical sexual characteristics and so one cannot safely assume that God created EVERY person to fit perfectly into the general binary concept.

      As for Milloy, there are fringy folks in every group. Her theories do not represent mainstream thinking of trans people in general, or of professionals who study the condition. She is inflating a reasonable concept (that you should listen to your child if they tell you that they have gender identity issues) into a ridiculous idea. I certainly hope that the aim here is not to represent her views as “the next big thing”

  4. Daniel Boehm June 28, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    If you don’t mind the Michael Moorish approach to doing a documentary, I found this one from Denmark very helpful (English subtitles):
    “The Gender Equality Paradox”

  5. Ryan Davidson June 28, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    I too kept reading the article, waiting for the punchline. Still, I’d suggest that the article does demonstrate the absurdity that results when our cultural constructs gender identities too narrowly. There are few other countries where gender, especially for men, is defined so narrowly and policed so vigorously as it is in the US. And with the increase in economic and social insecurity, gender policing has increased in recent decades. We’re quickly arriving at a point where one’s conformity to narrowly constructed gender roles overshadows one’s sex. Therefore, it only makes sense that those left out in the cold would create alternate genders: It’s a rational defense against having been victimized by excessive gender policing.

    The church’s response to all of this has been pretty abysmal, if not downright incoherent. We’ve rightly argued in favor of a gender-binary system. But we’ve done very little to push against our culture’s ever-narrowing definition of acceptable masculinity and the concomitant gender policing that leaves many young men feeling broken, rejected, and excluded. In fact, the church has often unwittingly reinforced such aggressive gender policing (see, e.g., the Acts 29 movement).

    I’m not suggesting that we become feminists. In fact, I’m generally unpersuaded by most of the insights of feminism. Still, I fear that, in our efforts to establish a bulwark against feminism, we have unwittingly accepted an artificial and simplistic view of masculinity that strips men of their complexity and rank orders them based on their conformity to some idealized 1950s view of manhood. Until we recognize this sin, repent of it, and make wholehearted efforts to counter our culture’s gender policing, we’re not going to have much credibility to speak on issues related to gender and sex.

    In some countries (e.g., southern European countries), identifying as “gay” means that you desire sexual intimacy with those of the same sex. That’s not typically true in the US, although it may be true of the more activist elements of the LGBT community. But for many “gay” people in the US, identifying as gay is more of a political statement than anything else: In that sense, it’s a protest by those of us who feel that we’ve been unjustly rejected and excluded by a church and culture that define masculinity and femininity too narrowly and police the boundaries of those definitions too aggressively.

    So, yes, contrary to what the author of the Slate article proposes, I have doubts regarding the utility of having more than two genders. But what do we do in a society that defines “masculine” and “feminine” so narrowly that substantial fractions of the population end up being excluded (or, at the very least, feel like they have to adopt a role that departs from who they actually are)?

    I used to identify as gay, although I was relatively discreet about it. I worked at an elite DC law firm, where 60-70% of male associates identified themselves the same way. But few of us were involved in same-sex relationships. Many of us actually dated women; others of us dated no one. And this wasn’t isolated to one law firm in DC. In general, many men in elite white-collar culture-shaping professions self-identify as gay. It doesn’t mean that they desire sex with men. Rather, it’s a political statement against a system that, in their view, unfairly judged them as failures because they didn’t fully embody the characteristics that their churches and surrounding cultural deemed as defining masculinity. So, their support of things like same-sex marriage has little to do with a belief in the merits of same-sex marriage. Rather, it’s part of a larger political effort to undercut and destabilize the narrow view of masculinity that currently prevails in middle-class America. Sadly, the church’s response to this has been to retrench and to define the acceptable boundaries of masculinity even more narrowly than before, which only exacerbates the problem. If the church truly wants to proffer a viable alternative to the direction of the culture, it could begin by ceasing from its “manly man” fetish and coming to affirm a view of masculinity that reflects the full complexity of true biblical manhood.

    • bobbistowellbrown June 28, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

      Galatians 3:27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

      Galatians 5: 1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free;
      13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.

    • Jonathan Charles June 29, 2014 at 6:01 am #

      the bible does have roles of men and women though, It is wrong to criticize ACTS 29 etc for following the bible, if one listens to the sermons it is always a simple, lead, provide protect, serve- if one does not fit what the bible says they must change to comply, I hardly fit the stereotypical definition of a manly man but I do not see how it is impossible for white collar men to do so. ( I would also argue that ACTS 29 has a majority of white collar men!!) those 4 points are hardly narrow

      Also most cultures have definitions of masculinity or femininity ( India and China do and they make up half the world alone- so no Idea where you get this idea that the states is in the minority on this)

      only the nordic countries don’t and that is primarily because the government has made it its goal to prevent men from expressing themselves in a non PC way- i.e everyone has to be gender fluid- using your arguments, that itself is Restricting.

      Also using Gal 3:28 to state Gender does not matter anymore under the new covenant is ridiculous- because then Paul and Peter should have never given GENDER specific commands

      • Ryan Davidson June 29, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

        @Jonathan

        Would you mind providing some evidentiary support for your averment that “nordic [sic] countries” don’t have defined gender roles. I travel to Copenhagen, Malmo, and Stockholm several times a year for work, and it appears to me that Denmark and Sweden operate with differentiated gender roles. Sure, masculinity is defined differently there than in the US, and the policing is less vigorous. Men there wear slimmer cut clothes, carry man-bags, groom meticulously, have better haircuts, enjoy going to art museums and the opera, and can banter intelligently about Foucault and Derrida, but that doesn’t obliterate the fact that there’s role differentiation. And, yes, men who exhibit such characteristics would be judged as “gay” by US evangelical standards, but that doesn’t mean that they are.

        It strikes me that evangelicals want to use the term “gay” in two different ways. When it suits them, they want to limit it to people who engage in male-male sex. But the evangelical subculture is still fairly ruthless in questioning the sexuality of men who fall short of the model of masculinity propounded by Mark Driscoll et al. So, “gay,” or the threat of being judged as such, is used to cudgel men into conforming to a narrowly prescribed model of masculinity. So where does that leave those of us who hate NASCAR, enjoy opera, and wouldn’t dare don a suit or collared shirt that wasn’t tailored. I don’t see anything in the Bible that suggests that these ought to be gender-bending issues, but they are generally viewed as such within evangelical culture.

        Heck, what defines masculinity has even changed in the South in recent decades. My Southern grandfather rarely wore anything but a suit, used guns for nothing but fox hunting, sprinkled his speech with allusions to English and classical literature, and made some of the best cocktails that I’ve ever (illegally) enjoyed. But that’s a far cry from the view of masculinity that’s promoted in the South today, except perhaps on the pages of Garden & Gun.

        My point is that masculinity and femininity are as much social constructs as they are inherent to our sex. I’m merely suggesting that evangelicals have defined the bounds of acceptable masculinity too narrowly, unwittingly (and improperly) cloaking the post-War middle-class familialist model of masculinity with Scripture’s aegis. In doing so, we place unnecessary pressure on men and boys to conform to a script that has more to do with our morbid obsession with 1950s America than with anything Biblical. When people feel judged for their gender nonconformity, they go in search of a different script. In many cases, the “gay” script offers a measure of acceptance that the manly-man script didn’t.

        • Lauren Bertrand June 29, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

          Ryan, now you’re just combating stereotypes with generalizations of your own. Your descriptions of Swedes and Danes fits a fairly typical cliche of the “metrosexual”, previously referred to as a “fop”, which one can find just as easily in the major urban centers of the US as in Europe. And I’m calling your bluff on the references to Foucault and Derrida; most Europeans can’t quote from those two blokes any more than most Americans can. But the Europeans would like insecure Americans to BELIEVE they can, and you seem to have taken the bait.

          I’d still agree with you that Evangelicals absolutely define gender binaries too narrowly. But then plenty of Evangelicals mythologize the 1950s as the last great era of America (the “morbid obsession” you reference). It doesn’t help their credibility, since that time period is just as characterized by submissive women, McCarthyism and Jim Crow as it is by wholesomeness, the baby boom and unprecedented economic growth. That said, the problems of Evangelical gender binaries do not necessarily extend to America as a whole. Plenty of American men carry man bags. Straight ones too. In the cities.

          • Jonathan Charles June 29, 2014 at 11:47 pm #

            pretty sure the bible tells wives to be submissive… some christians may be looking for a 1950’s without Jim Crow- to be fair Christianity was far more influential in America then.
            Swedes and Danes also impose gender binaries ( ones that do not offend feminists)- just of the different sort/men should not do what men want too. Through out all their feminist law and propaganda and the men there would look very different.

            Lauren, which christian church looks to follow the 1950’s in every way of life? If they are then their congregation is definitely not dressing the right way!!

            Is not a man-bag just the 21st century version of the briefcase?!!

          • Ryan Davidson June 30, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

            We seem to at least agree on evangelicals’ tendencies to define gender binaries too narrowly and to fetishize the 1950s instead of exploring the full scope of what masculinity entails.

            Sure, there are plenty of metrosexuals in metro areas, but how many of them worship at evangelical churches? Few. When I lived in Arlington (VA), there were plenty of metrosexuals in my neighborhood. But my PCA church (which was also in the neighborhood) largely consisted of men who fit the “manly man” stereotype. The church culture was a small piece of the middle-class South transplanted into the urban Northeast. A metrosexual would feel no more socially at home in that church, despite its location, than he would have felt at a PCA church in Jackson, Mississippi. And that’s my point. We’re driving people away from Christ because their dress and manners don’t fit what our bourgeois values.

            Also, in my experience, most metrosexuals would identify as bisexual, if not gay. But I doubt that they’re gay at all. They’ve simply internalized years of social rejection and adopted a social identity that embodies their social exclusion from mainstream society. But the evangelical church seems all too willing to see these men consigned to that unjust judgment. Surely that’s not because we’re following in Christ’s footsteps. To the contrary, we’ve convinced ourselves that such people represent a kind of “other” and therefore elect to write them off.

            Lastly, there is a pastoral concern regarding how we minister to young men in our churches who don’t conform to the picture of masculinity that predominates in middle-class society. Sadly, the church often ends up reinforcing the rejection that these kids already face at school. But that’s the opposite of what we ought to be doing. We ought to celebrate the skinny, dreamy, artsy kids as equally a reflection of God’s creative handiwork as the muscular, gregarious, athletic kid. And in doing so, we offer a Gospel alternative to the vicious social hierarchy that prevails in many middle and high schools.

            I’m certainly no feminist. I’m a conservative old-school Presbyterian in the vein of Carl Trueman and Darryl Hart. But I fear that the difficulties evangelicals face on these issues lies with their pragmatic tendency to valorize the values of bourgeois society.

    • Lauren Bertrand June 29, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

      Ryan Davidson, your extreme binary-gender view of the US is eccentric, to say the least. You make a provocative argument, but I can’t help but wonder if it has more to do with where you come from in the States. I suspect the hyperbolic masculinity that you evoke holds true in red-blooded rural American South….certainly much more than it does in liberal urban centers (which, also, not surprisingly, have been overwhelmingly more gay-friendly). That said, urban centers in Europe are a little more accommodating to the shades of gray, but I suspect you’d find the gender-binary view is just as strict in rural France and Germany as it is here. While you could argue that Hollywood helps to reassert the “manly man” stereotype in the US, those same Hollywood movies get consumed voraciously in Europe too. Meanwhile, the androgyny of stereotypically European movies (I’m sorry, “films”) has much more to do with the fact that what we associate as Euroccinema is fundamentally anti-commercial stuff…supported by public sector arts commissions, because what little France has for a for-profit movie industry is mostly devoted to Jerry Lewis knock-offs and the like. The French films we see owe their existence to government subsidies, typically. American gender ideals aren’t imposed on other cultures; those cultures choose to consume the dichotomy and support it with their wallets.

      Also, it seems fanciful to suggest that 60-70% of male associates at a DC law firm identified as gay, despite not being in same-sex relationships. Do you imply that even the ones who were in opposite sex relationships identified as gay? To say that “artsy” men or “sporty” women are inherently adapting a gay persona as part of political protest doesn’t really hold to scrutiny, especially in a time period when gay male athletes are finally feeling comfortable coming out of the closet. In their homophobic milieus, why on earth would they seek to make a political protest?

  6. James Harold Thomas June 28, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    Why does Milloy assume that the doctor is assigning the baby’s gender rather than announcing the baby’s sex?

  7. Jonathan Charles June 29, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    Nordic governments and women hate the idea of men wanting to lead, serve- protect and provide- basically they do not want men, they want to legislate culture etc in fact in countries like that I would argue that they discourage men who like things like hunting/NASCAR type stuff etc.

    Visit Mars Hill or watch some of the videos/ interviews they have of men and couples- lots of skinny jeans, well groomed hair etc… It is a Joke!!- just laugh and move on, NO one believes men who dress like you suggest are doing something WRONG and sinful.

    1950’s perhaps in fundamentals like men leading , providing, protecting etc but NOT in dress /fashion or tastes.

    The average 1950’s man I would argue by YOUR definitions was BETTER dressed ( everyone had to have ironed shirts etc, was well groomed- did not everyone have /aim to have perfectly combed hair?- SWEATER VESTS ( lol!!) and would have hard a FAR greater knowledge on Opera and ART as compared to a man today- more men studied those subjects)

    So I am not sure where you get this idea that NASCAR etc is a dubious GOAL to take everyone back to the 50’s when what you think they are discouraging in men was extremely popular in the 50’s!!!!!

    I would put the blame on the gay movement on making opera and art and dressing a certain way part of their identity- I know many gays who DO NOT want to be identified with this, but have you been to a pride parade?- this is why you have Gay Bears Response etc

    also OUR culture dislikes men who like NASCAR/ do not shave their chests etc /- it happens to be that a lot of the men in Christianity are of the “manly kind” and it is fine, let them be- I do not identify with everything they like ( steak on a grill , NASCAR etc) but just laugh when they joke and you should make jokes about them.

    If you are annoyed at Christian leaders disciplining men who want to cross dress – the problem is then with you and not the pastors – that is the idea of the head covering verse etc- maintain gender distinction.

    I cook, clean, bake, cross stitch but that DOES not make me female, at the same time I would not criticise men who cannot sew, cook or bake like some in our culture do. While It is likely that I will not use such skills when I grow up and have a family , I still believe a man should lead, provide and protect- that is biblical

    In the same way my sister is sporty, playful takes far more physical risks , is brilliant at math ( I assure you the female dislike of math is ONLY a western thing) but still knows that she will have to play her role if she gets married one day- it does NOT make her masculine because she knows what responsibilities the bible puts on wives.

    BUT it does not make me gay or effeminate or her lesbian and masculine it is OUR culture that thinks that NOT the bible. yes the majority of Christian men lean one way but that is likely due to the secular culture critiquing them for it.

    Also what is a man bag?!- now is it not necessary for men to carry a bag, considering almost all men carry laptops/tablets around.

    The biblical principles are timeless – roles for husbands and wives etc but what a culture like sis so so different.

    Indian men wear shiny glittery stuff, Arab men wear long robes, Scottish men wear kilts – but all these cultures have different fashions etc for women to ensure identification and that is good and arguably biblical , but what those men wear would perhaps be seen as feminine or flamboyant in Southern culture and that is fine but it does not make those men less of a man- unless they are not complying to what the bible instructs.

    This has been really interesting, I apologize if I was not clear – so what do you think?

  8. Daniel Moody July 4, 2014 at 5:22 am #

    Dear Denny

    Please read Milloy’s article again, this time taking “male” and “female” to be understood as states of mind, not body. Milloy is saying “Parents are deciding how their child will feel when the child grows up. We should let the child decide”.

    In terms of what Gender is legally understood to be (a state of mind), Milloy’s article makes sense. That’s the scary part.

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