Teaching Gender in Public Schools

BaumThis post is a follow-up to Monday’s post about the “genderless baby.” The worldview that motivated the Canadian couple to hide the gender of their baby can also be found a little bit closer to home—in a California public school.

An Oakland elementary school contracted a group called “Gender Spectrum” to make a presentation to their students. What was supposed to be “anti-bullying lessons” for elementary children actually turned out to be indoctrination in contemporary gender theory. One news report describes it this way:

“The lessons were presented by an outside anti-bullying educational group called Gender Spectrum, paid for with a $1,500 grant from the California Teachers Union.

“Joel Baum, director of education and training for Gender Spectrum, taught the classes. In the kindergarten class he asked the 5- and 6-year-olds to identify if a toy was a ‘girl toy’ or a ‘boy toy’ or both. He also asked which students liked the color pink, prompting many to raise their hands, to which he responded that that boys can like pink, too. . .

“‘Gender identity is one’s own sense of themselves. Do they know themselves to be a girl? Do they know themselves to be a boy? Do they know themselves to be a combination?’ Baum said. ‘Gender identity is a spectrum where people can be girls, feel like girls, they feel like boys, they feel like both, or they can feel like neither.’

“Oakland Unified School District spokesman Troy Flint told FoxNews.com that the two-day lesson plan for all 350 students at the school was intended to emphasize that not all children will conform to gender norms.”

Once again, ideas have consequences. In this case, contemporary gender theory is presented as the cure for bullying in a public school. This suggests that a more traditional view of gender causes bullying. Nothing could be further from the truth, but that is the message that many children are getting. Read the rest here, and check out my post from Monday for an alternative view.

42 Responses to Teaching Gender in Public Schools

  1. Paul June 1, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    1) any Fox report is bound to be unduly biased and not really news in the first place. If Fox is the only one reporting this, then it might not have actually happened (see: the finding of WMD’s in Iraq). If some other outlet besides Fox is reporting it, I’d link to that instead. Then we can be guaranteed facts instead of opinion (which this piece reeked of).

    2) a more traditional view of gender can most certainly be A cause of bullying. I think you’d have to be absolutely blind not to see that. What’s the first thing that boys will call each other if they inflict some damage? It rhymes with bag and assumes that a boy might carry one.

    3) as far as stopping bullying (either mental or physical) I believe a “by any means necessary” policy needs to be in order. While I don’t like the idea of kindergarteners having LGBT propaganda thrown at them, I do believe that the older kids should hear some version of “some people are different, and you’re a horrible person if you make them feel bad for it.”

    3a) Oakland is across a bridge from San Francisco. Let’s face facts here: this is an issue that has more weight in the Bay Area than it will likely ever have in Tennessee or Kentucky. There’s much less need to stay in the closet there, and at some point, straight classmates are going to need to deal with it in a better fashion than calling names and the like.

    You can be a good Christian and realize that all of the above points are true. At some point, grown ups have to think of grown up ways to deal with these issues with real life solutions that acknowledge a fallen world.

  2. Paula June 1, 2011 at 1:27 am #

    And now we have the transgender prom queen in Florida.

    From the comments below the article:

    “”Born male” is a judgment. A more correct and less judgmental phraseology would have been something like “assigned a male gender at birth.”

    “Born male” involves a denial of the scientific evidence that has been ammassing since 1995 that transgender people are developmenally different based on genetic and embryological factors – so that we are born different and are not properly assigned that birth sex. So “born male” or “born a man” are inaccurate.”

    Also from the comments:

    “The Associated Press Stylebook provides guidelines for journalists reporting on transgender people and issues. According to the AP Stylebook, reporters should “use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly”

    The word the comes to mind is PERVASIVE.

  3. Nathan June 1, 2011 at 3:14 am #

    I disagree — a traditional view of gender DOES cause bullying because the traditional view is based on idolatry. If a person doesn’t live up to the idolized gender-norm, they are torn to shreds by their peers. A person can fail to meet expectations because of their physical body, personal preferences, emotional make-up, inter-personal skills, etc.

    One doesn’t have to look that hard to find the idolatry in Christian circles.

    Have you ever read the book, Wild at Heart? It’s filled with idolatry for certain gender norms — and the church ate that stuff up.

    Denny suggesed that leaders in the church be what boys idolize, so as not to turn the boys off to the church. Read it here: http://www.dennyburk.com/boys-and-music/

    To everyone that reads this…

    Just because your gender expression naturely happened to fit relatively well with the expectations doesn’t mean that those whose traits don’t fit the expectations chose to deviate from some predetermined path. And just because someone else’s gender expression doesn’t match yours doesn’t make it wrong. In other words, YOU are not the standard. I think you need objective proof of your standard for proper gender expression. Saying that God made male and female and he expects a husband to act a certain way with his wife and vice versa ABSOLUTELY IS NOT proof of biblical gender standards.

  4. Nate June 1, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    Nathan,

    Once again you appear to be so immersed in protecting the minority (which is admirable) that you fail to see the trees for the forest. An androgynous society is unrealistic and dangerous.

    One outcome of your position is that you would have to be in favor of no gendered sports-team. By the way, if there were no female sports, you would set the women’s movement back over 100 years, because there are no women who can compete at the elite level of men. But I guess that is idolatry to you as well.

    Furthermore, although you constantly argue for gender issues and for gay-rights you have consistently opposed polygamy and polyamory in your posts. You can’t have your cake and eat it to. You can’t claim women are abused in polygamist unions and then claim that boys aren’t harmed in gay-unions.

    If anything goes, anything goes.

  5. Paul June 1, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    Denny – why are you moderating me? That’s sad.

  6. yankeegospelgirl June 1, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    Blech. Gross. Disgusting. And wicked, too.

  7. Kelley Kimble June 1, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    I think that Nathan makes a very good point. Bullying, though, has been going on since Cain killed Abel. When I was a kid you were more likely to be bullied because you were poor or “slow”. I remember incidents from my school years that were shameful examples of bad behavior and no adult intervened. But I also think it is more likely that kids who do not fit the gender standards are pressured or seduced by same-gender predators. The kids I knew who grew up to be gay all had strained or non-existent relationships with their same-gender parent. There’s so much more to the gender identity question that just physical characteristics. Once a predator comes along and gets into a young person’s head, they are easily convinced. I don’t think that teaching public-school children that girls will be boys and boys will be girls is going to accomplish anything. I think it would be more productive to teach tolerance and kindness, period.

  8. Nate June 1, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    Kelley, “I think it would be more productive to teach tolerance and kindness, period.”

    But then you would have to be tolerant of bullies, wouldn’t you?

    Tolerance is a shell-game word for, “Allow me to do what I want, but I don’t want you to tell me it’s wrong…. But, I will tell you that you are intolerant if you even presume to set guidelines I oppose.”

    Do you want to teach children to be tolerant of cheaters, liars, and thieves, as well?

  9. Chris June 1, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    There is a standard for right and wrong without regard to what any person thinks or feels. God created male and female. Not male, female, male that feels like a female, female that feels like a male, male that feels like both a male and female, etc.

    Sin corrupted God’s good creation. The standard is what God intended it to be prior to sin. It is not ok to allow sin to flourish because we were born corrupted. A child should not be bullied because they are different, but a child should not be abused by adults telling them that there is no standard.

  10. Nathan June 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    Nate,

    I have no idea what you are talking about. I did not argue for an androgynous society in my previous post. I have never argued that women are harmed in polygamist relationships. And I am indifferent on polygamist and polyamorous relationships (I’m not sure what those have to do with the gender counseling referred to in Denny’s post).

    What is your shell-game word for “I’m going to force society to follow a hand-picked set of rules from an interpretation of the Bible that suits me best?”

  11. Kelley Kimble June 1, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    Nate – the new definition of tolerance has become wishy-washy, but I was referring to tolerance in the sense that we do not persecute those who are different. That’s really what bullying is, the persecution of someone who is perceived by the bully as an easy target. Obviously we would not tolerate behavior that includes bullying, stealing, lying, cheating or other behaviors that violate someone’s rights. That’s the original definition of tolerance; your right to behave badly ends at someone else’s right to not be bothered with you.

  12. Christianes June 1, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    The ONLY way out of this horrific mess is for people to begin to respect the dignity of the HUMAN PERSON;
    regardless of ‘gender’, or any of the other ‘labels’ that one group pins on another group as an excuse to practice contempt and derision.

    Respect for the dignity of the human person is a Christian value.
    Let’s model it.

  13. Sue June 1, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    As a school teacher, I have met many children who already display homosexual/transgender characteristics, and they come from North American fundamentalist, Asian and Ladino homes.

    In high school I knew several students some homosexual and some just assumed to be by other students. Some have committed suicide as teenagers or adults.

    I thoroughly agree that children need to be protected from predators of same sex or opposite sex. However, I can’t see any reason not to protect children from harassment leading to suicide. I think schools are liable in court if they allow a student to be harassed to death.

  14. Zoe Brain June 2, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    Chris wrote:
    God created male and female. Not male, female, male that feels like a female, female that feels like a male, male that feels like both a male and female, etc.

    God wrote in reply… well you can see His work at http://www.usrf.org/news/010308-guevedoces.html

    In some parts of the world, the 5ARD or 17BHDD mutations are more common than the CCR1 mutation that causes red hair.

    Some people have red hair; some people naturally change sex. But the latter’s not talked about because biological reality conflicts with ideology.

    And some people are born with male brains but female bodies.

    “The fetal brain develops during the intrauterine period in the male direction through a direct action of testosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hormone surge. In this way, our gender identity (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and sexual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. However, since sexual differentiation of the genitals takes place in the first two months of pregnancy and sexual differentiation of the brain starts in the second half of pregnancy, these two processes can be influenced independently, which may result in extreme cases in trans-sexuality. This also means that in the event of ambiguous sex at birth, the degree of masculinization of the genitals may not reflect the degree of masculinization of the brain. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender identity or sexual orientation.” — Endocr Dev. 2010;17:22-35

    Whether you call it a “natural variation” or a “birth defect” makes no odds to the kids with it. They get assaulted because they’re not supposed to exist.

    And teaching actual biological fact is “against social values”, as the Pacific Law Institute said, so the cycle perpetuates.

  15. Donald Johnson June 2, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    All humans are in the image of God, this has profound implications.

  16. Christianes June 2, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    A lot of the public perception is that certain religious groups have ‘targeted’ people with gender issues.
    That perception is what is driving a ‘response’.

    Some will take advantage of that perception on one side;
    as others have taken advantage of playing to their ‘base’ by creating that perception.

    Both sides have people that are destructive. And when the two opposing sides play off of each other, you get a synergy that is absolutely ‘evil’ in the worst sense.

  17. Jared O June 2, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    Paul,

    Apparently he’s not monitoring you too close, as he let that last one slip by.

  18. Jared O June 2, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    To those who say the traditional view of gender causes bullying, would you answer these two questions: 1) What traditional view are you referencing? A biblical view or some sort of 1950’s American traditional view? 2) How would teaching children that they have no gender, be intellectually honest or prevent bullying?

    I would think a better solution would be to teach the biblical view, or at least obvious view, of different genders and then address the real root of bullying: hatred in children’s hearts for those that are different from them.

  19. Sue June 2, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    Jared,

    I can assure you, nobody really has the answer to how to stop bullying. But if children are taught that the identity of some children is not biblical, is somehow “wrong” it seems that this contributes to bullying.

    But I am interested in your proposal. Would you teach children that being homosexual or transgender is unbiblical and not in God’s will, but then teach that we don’t bully people who are unbiblical and “wrong?”

    I am being quite open and honest, because, of course, children with no religious views also bully children who display gender characteristics that deviate from the “norm.” Don’t we all know someone who has committed suicide over this?

  20. Nathan June 2, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    Jared O,

    1. I’m referencing unbiblical gender definitions, but I wonder if we even agree on what the proper biblical view even is. I doubt it.

    2. According to the article, the gender counseling did not teach that people are genderless. It teaches that people may not feel like what is traditionally expected and people may not act according to those expectations. Everyone in this forum probably agrees with that statement. I guess the controversy is regarding telling children that.

    The counseling also taught that people don’t get to harass or bully others based on their gender expression. I agree with that, do you?

  21. Nate June 2, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    Nathan, so give us your definition of what a proper biblical view of gender is.

    Also, the reason I dinged you on the polygamist/polyamory issue is because you have been indifferent to it, and actually have come down against polygamy in other posts because you believe women are manipulated and persecuted. Yet you constantly advance same-sex unions. My point was that you want it both ways.

  22. Nate June 2, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Kelley:

    I agree that the new usage of tolerance is wishy-washy, at best, so why do you want to buy into the PC language culture?

    You also stated, “your right to behave badly ends at someone else’s right to not be bothered with you.”

    Do you really believe this? You think 1st ammendment privileges should be set aside if I say something that bothers you? You think my actions should be limited if I do something that bothers you?

    Seriously!

  23. Nathan June 2, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    Beyond issues related to sexual activity, who you marry, and the ~spiritual~ responsabilities within a marriage and church, there isn’t much more to biblical gender roles.

    Nate, you have me confused with someone else–I’ve never said anything on Denny’s blog about the persecution of women in any context. We can talk about this the next time it comes up.

  24. Kelley Kimble June 2, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Nate – I am not buying into PC language culture but I think you are allowing it to define the terms of this discussion. When I learned what tolerance was, it meant that we may agree to disagree with others, and that is that. No one has the right to expect everyone in the world will behave according to their expectations. And where did you get the idea that I think First Amendment privilieges should be set aside if you say something that bothers me? If you say something that bothers me, I have the option of walking away or otherwise discontinuing the conversation. I was speaking in the legal sense. The legal definition of a “tort” is the violation of someone’s rights, which includes actions like bullying, assault, battery, theft. I agree with you that certain words have been redefined, which make conversation difficult. Some people would define simple disagreement as bullying or persecution, which would be incorrect. The idea of tolerance is very, very old. It means respecting others’ rights to make their own choices, so long as their choices do not interfere with our rights. There is no right not to be offended.

  25. Christianes June 3, 2011 at 12:22 am #

    There is sometimes a tragedy to do with hermaphroditism, where the parents rush to ‘choose’ a sex identity for their baby and find out later that the child perceives him or herself to be the OPPOSITE sex from the surgery that the parents rushed into having performed.

    The ONLY time I can imagine people guarding a baby’s sexual identity would be if that baby were born a hermaphrodite and the parents were giving the child a chance to grow and express his/her ‘own’ sense of what sex they felt was theirs. This MAKES sense in certain medical cases, but it doesn’t make sense when a child is born with a clear-cut physical and geneological sexual identity.

    For those who may not know, a child born with ‘hermaphroditism’ has organs of both sexes at birth.

  26. Kristen June 3, 2011 at 1:25 am #

    Regardless of the transgender/homosexuality issues, I find it interesting that the study used “girl” toys and “boy” toys as a jumping-off place. There are gender stereotypes that don’t really hold across the board even for non-transgendered people, such as, “boys should play with cars and girls with dolls.”

    Boys are probably going to become daddies. Why shouldn’t they play with dolls? Girls are probably going to learn to drive. Why shouldn’t they play with cars? Is not part of the problem, the narrow molds we try to force children into– children who are designed according to the manifold facets of God’s creativity? Perhaps some of the gender confusion young people experience is that the stereotyped molds are too narrow to hold them.

    An even deeper question is this: Often when a girl plays “boy” games or with “boy” toys, that’s considered cool and interesting– but when a boy plays “girl” games or with “girl” toys, that’s a matter of shame and ridicule. Is there a misogyny deep within our culture that we imbibe without even realizing it?

  27. Zoe Brain June 3, 2011 at 5:12 am #

    Intersexed people tend to have ambiguous genitalia, rather than both.

    What the biology means – is that most boys look like boys, emote like boys, smell and hear like boys, have XY chromosomes, have male genitalia etc. And most girls look like girls etc etc.

    But some children behave as neither, no matter what they look like. Some boys have ambiguous genitalia, or even look female. Some girls have masculinised bodies.

    Mostly they don’t. Mostly, everything matches. Mostly. But sometimes it doesn’t, and this isn’t because they’re evil or perverted or attention-seeking or any of the other vices ascribed to them, it’s because of their physical anatomy.

    1 in 300 men don’t have the XY chromosomes most men do. 1 in 650 girls don’t have XX chromosomes either. About 1 in 200 children have had some surgical reconstruction of their genitalia, sometimes the wrong way. 1 in 3000 are Transsexual, anatomically male brain in otherwise anatomically female body, or the reverse.

    Add up all the various forms of Intersex, many only detectable in Lab tests, and it’s 1.7%, 1 person in 60.

    Children born looking female but actually male will behave like boys no matter how they’re brought up. Same with girls – so gender-neutral rearing will do neither good nor harm, and isn’t necessary.

    What *is* necessary is that children be taught this in an age-appropriate way, so Intersexed kids aren’t persecuted at school. And perhaps just as importantly, that they’re not persecuted as adults by a voting public who have been conditioned to believe they’re one in a million (rather than 1 in 60), or evil, or perverted, or any of the rest because to teach them otherwise would be (as I said before) “against social values”.

    Which it is. Just like anti-Racism campaigns were. Biology contradicts many popular religious beliefs too, much as did astronomy 600 years ago – so some Religious groups want the facts suppressed too. Even ones about Clownfish.

  28. Donald Johnson June 3, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    I know there are some case of what is called Testosterone Insensitivity Syndrome or TIS. In this case, the genes are XY but the developing baby is not affected by the testosterone that is created. So the baby has extenal female genitals and inside has degenerate male genitals that never developed. Since testosterone does not affect this person, they often appear to be hyper-feminine, as the “feminine” hormones still work on them; and so super-models and similar turn out to have more TIS people in them than average.

    Sadly, they are not fertile. But the point is genetically they are XY (male) but phenotypically (body type)they are female. My take is that such people should be loved and not told they are in sin somehow for choices they did not make regardless of how they choose to define their gender. In other words, it is an oversimplification of reality to claim that everyone is born either male or female and such oversimplifications can have consequences on how people who do not fit clearly into either category see themselves.

  29. Zoe Brain June 3, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    Donald Johnson – Yes, that’s complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS). There’s also partial AIS that can lead to anything from a somewhat masculinised female, to a somewhat feminised male appearance. And Swyer syndrome – a pre-pubescent female appearance and anatomy, but with non-functional streak gonads rather than ovaries, and XY chromosomes.

    And literally hundreds of other Intersex conditions. CAH – congenital adrenal hyperplasia – that can lead to a masculine body, even if chromosomes are XX.

    Talking about toys – girls with CAH even if not otherwise masculinised tend to have male preferences for toys, and are often lesbian or bisexual.

    Data show that increased male-typical toy play by girls with CAH cannot be explained by parental encouragement of male-typical toy play. Although parents encourage sex-appropriate behavior, their encouragement appears to be insufficient to override the interest of girls with CAH in cross-sexed toys.

    “Prenatal hormones versus postnatal socialization by parents as determinants of male-typical toy play in girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia” Pasterski et al. Child Dev 76(1):264-78 2005

    Boys and girls behave in different ways and one of the stereotypical behavioral differences between them, that has often been said to be forced upon them by upbringing and social environment, is their behavior in play. Boys prefer to play with cars and balls, whereas girls prefer dolls. This sex difference in toy preference is present very early in life (3–8 months of age) [1]. The idea that it is not society that forces these choices upon children but a sex difference in the early development of their brains and behavior is also supported by monkey behavioral studies. Alexander and Hines [2], who offered dolls, toy cars and balls to green Vervet monkeys found the female monkeys consistently chose the dolls and examined these ano-genitally, whereas the male monkeys were more interested in playing with the toy cars and with the ball….

    Sexual Hormones and the Brain: An Essential Alliance for Sexual Identity and Sexual Orientation Garcia-Falgueras A, Swaab DF Endocr Dev. 2010;17:22-35

    This means that boys *tend* to play with boy-toys, but it’s normal for some not to. That this preference is not cultural or learned, it’s biologically-based, and reflects degree of masculinisation of certain brain structures. Some can be masculinised, others more feminised, few people (if any) conform completely to either an M or F stereotype, it’s usually *mostly* conform to one or the other.

    It also means that some people who look like boys identify as girls, have actual female anatomy in places if you look hard enough, and that they were born this way.

    This contradicts a lot of religious belief, though much of that belief has far less scriptural evidence than popularly supposed. Less than the Flat Earth covered by a Firmament keeping the Waters Above out, for example. While there are still many Christian Geocentricists, there are few Platygeans.

  30. Nathan June 3, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    The last three posts (Zoe and Donald) are consistent with what the Bible says, “male and female created he them.”

    I’m betting that someone is going to mention that we live in a fallen world (and so that’s just tough for those that don’t fit the average gender expression because they’re just perverts rebelling against God, don’t you know…)

  31. Sue June 4, 2011 at 2:07 am #

    I had an amazing conversation this afternoon with the teacher in our school who teaches the anti-homphobia program. He is a married homosexual himself. I had made a huge assumption that he would be anti-Christian. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    He told me how the mother of one of his students came to talk to him about the anti-homophobia program. She explained that she was the wife of an evangelical minister and that their belief was against homosexuality and she quoted some scripture. He quoted back to her scriptures from the gospels about Christ accepting those who were outcasts of society. He also asked her about some of the verses on women and if she followed them fully.

    Then he asked if her son was happy in our school. She agreed that he was. He asked how it had been for her son in his last school – had he ever felt isolated as an evangelical Christian.

    The mother agreed that her son was much happier in our school. The teacher explained that we had a religion program where all students present a project on their own religion and the students visited different churches, synagogues, and temples.

    The teacher explained that her son would never be looked down on or bullied for his Christian belief, but would be fully accepted by others, and that this acceptance was also offered to any students who were homosexual. The mother agreed that her son was very happy in our school and that she liked the teacher in every other way and she agreed to let the boy attend the anti-homophobia class.

    The teacher then went on to tell me what God meant in his own life. His father had been an atheistic alcholic and when this teacher was about 12 he started going to church by himself, and that the knowledge that God loved him and accepted him, saved him.

  32. Zoe Brain June 4, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    “Perverts rebelling against God?”

    I get that a lot, yes.

    I have 3BHDD, so for my childhood, teenage years, and early adulthood looked male. 5ARD and 17BHDD cause female-to-male changes, 3BHDD can cause a change in either direction.

    The 1985 diagnosis, based on a physical exam and hormone tests, was that I was an Intersexed male. I looked male – mostly.

    The 2005 diagnosis, based on the fact that I had a female puberty then, plus MRIs, Ultrasounds, gene tests etc not available 20 years earlier was that I was a severely intersexed woman. As I’d thought I was since I was a child.

    Apart from the fact that my change was natural, I’m indistinguishable from any other transsexual woman.

    We exist. We walk amongst you. And every transsexual adult was a transsexual child, trying to make sense of a world that was terribly awry. Trust me on that one.

    Courses like this, for their benefit and to educate others, would help them survive.

  33. Denny Burk June 4, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Sue, Do you believe that the Bible forbids homosexual conduct?

  34. Christianes June 4, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    I imagine that Sue KNOWS that the Bible FORBIDS the persecution, humiliation, and harassment of any minority group.

    Some Christian groups have understood this.

    Some have not . . . and their treatment of women, moslems, homosexuals, immigrants, and anyone who opposes their point of view,
    can be extreme and quite easily seen by the general public as a brutal attack on these minorities.

    I suppose you can the Bible to justify many kinds of things . . . even slavery;
    but there will always be Christian people who say, ‘No’ to that kind of abuse of God’s Word.

    We may NOT do evil that good may come. It is forbidden.

  35. Sue June 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Yes, I believe that is what it says. I also firmly believe that just as we treat the letters of Paul as normative, so we should view the commands of Christ. I believe we in the west should be strongly convicted by Jesus’ command to the wealthy young man, to sell everything that he had and give to the poor.

    This is front and centre for me. How do I, as a school teacher, provide for my young adult children in college, and also live out the command of Christ.

    You know that I have lived through a deep crisis in the last few years. Not the least of that is my sense that biblical interpretation is an inexact science. Faith has to be based on something more solid.

  36. Sue June 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    I also believe that the Bible unequivocally tells slaves to ovey their masters. But I would never tell a slave that this was to be their lot for the rest of their life.

  37. Sue June 4, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    PS Denny,

    If you say something about my belief, if you comment on my comment, will I be able to respond?

  38. Zoe Brain June 4, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    While we’re waiting for Sue to answer, Denny, here’s a question for you in return:

    My UK Birth Certificate says “boy”. It also says at the bottom, in RED CAPITALS:

    “WARNING: A CERTIFICATE IS NOT EVIDENCE OF IDENTITY”

    My UK passport says “F”. That’s based on medical evidence, which I had to produce to get it.

    My medical records show that in 1985, I was disgnosed with “Undervirilised male syndrome”. And that in 2005, the diagnosis was changed to “moderate to severe androgenisation of a non-pregnant woman”.

    Leaving aside the legal aspects, and just looking at what the Bible says… what exactly would be “homosexual conduct” in my case? Kissing a man? Kissing a woman? Neither? Both? And if you don’t have enough information there to answer that question, then what other information would you require?

    Sorry to put you on the spot like this, and I’m not trying to trick you into taking an untenable position either way, it’s a genuine question, and I’d be glad to give you any additional information you might need.

  39. Kristen June 5, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    With regards to this issue:

    Boys and girls behave in different ways and one of the stereotypical behavioral differences between them, that has often been said to be forced upon them by upbringing and social environment, is their behavior in play. Boys prefer to play with cars and balls, whereas girls prefer dolls. This sex difference in toy preference is present very early in life (3–8 months of age) [1].

    I gave both my children when they were toddlers/preschoolers (one is a boy, one is a girl) every different kind of toy. Both of them played with both “boy” toys and “girl” toys as young children, but both of them preferred unisex toys (stuffed animals, blocks, plastic dinosaurs). It is true that the boy and the girl tended to play with these unisex toys differently. The girl was more likely to have the animals and dinosaurs talk to one another, while the boy preferred to have them fight one another. The boy was also more likely to throw things, while the girl was more likely to cuddle things. I didn’t try to force either child into a gender type in play– but neither of them was really into dolls or cars. As they have moved into puberty (the boy is 12, the girl 16), they appear to have no issues with physical intersexed characteristics in any way.

    I understand that my “evidence” is anecdotal only, but it does seem to me that this scientific study as presented does not appear to adequately take into account individual differences, even between those whose physiology is not unusual. I think children ought to be encouraged to simply be themselves in play, and to develop as God created them, each in his/her own way.

  40. Zoe Brain June 5, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

    Kristen – it’s important to realise that these are statistical “truths” only. Boys play with boy toys, girls with girl ones. Boys are taller than girls too….

    But that doesn’t mean that everyone above average height is male, everyone below female. That’s a pretty obvious case where we can show that while a general principle that no-one denies; “Boys are taller than Girls”, is very obviously not universally true in a lot of individual cases.

    The first rung of Wittgenstein’s ladder (please look that up) when it comes to the shape of the Earth is that it’s globular, not flat. The second rung is that it’s oblately spheroidal, not spherical. The third that the geoide is irregular and constantly changing, modified by plate tectonics, mass concentrations in the crust, relativistic effects from rotation, tidal effects etc.

    But it’s not useful to go directly to that third stage when trying to show that the Earth isn’t Flat.

    I’ve talked about Boy brains and Girl brains – that’s like talking about a spherical Earth. It captures the essence, but is wrong in detail. But unless I start talking about the left frontal gyrus, the right occipital lobe where body map is formed, the BSTc layer of the Hypothalamus, distributions of grey and white matter etc etc it’s about the best I can do.

    Sex is not binary, nor is it monodimensional. It’s a complex vector of continuous, not discrete, variables. Very few people are extremely stereotypically male in every respect, or stereotypically female for that matter. But saying that often clouds the issue, confuses rather than enlightens. Like introducing relativistic effects into a discussion about the Earth’s shape. I hope you’ll forgive me there, first for over-simplifying, and now for over-complicating.

  41. Muff Potter June 6, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    Kristen, thank you for showing that any issue, whether it be Biblical doctrine beyond the essentials of say the Nicene Creed, or current research on sexual genetics, can never be resolved into neatly boxed black & white categories.

    The Bible has what? five or six verses tops on homosexuality? How many verses on the opression of the poor & needy in addition to being central themes of the Hebrew prophets?

    In all honesty, I still cannot figure out why many evangelicals seem to be so focused-in-on-homosexuality, while some of their Church investment portfolios grind the destitute of the third world into dire straights.

  42. Nathan June 7, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    I’m thankful that Zoe Brain has joined the discussion. Zoe adds another color and dimension to the world. Denny has a problem seeing her tho because he’s wearing 2D, black-and-white glasses.

    Zoe, Denny is not likely to answer your question. He’s been asked it before. It’s the perfect question. Denny probably has difficulty answering it because his answer will either make him look insensitive or soft on “homosexuality.”

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