A Canadian couple’s decision to raise a “genderless”
child has perplexed me.
I was scratching my head last week after hearing
about the couple from Toronto, Canada, who announced they were going to raise a
“genderless” child. Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, parents
of two boys named Jazz and Kio, had a third child named
Storm on New Year’s Day. Witterick announced to her
family last month that she intends to keep the child’s gender a secret and let
him/her figure it out on his own.
So far mom and dad have not
granted interviews, but the mother said in a letter to the Edmonton Journal,
published May 30, that letting Storm determine his/her gender was “a tribute to
freedom and choice in place of limitation.”
determined by the foreknowledge of God; it is not our choice. He is the
Creator, we are the creature; He is the potter, we are the clay. To say that a
child is going to “choose” his/her gender is the ultimate in rebellion against
God’s created order.”
“Someday soon, Storm will
have something to say about it,” the mom added. (And I’m thinking he/she also
may grow up resenting its parents for this bizarre decision.)
We know where this line of reasoning came from.
We already have laws on the books in several states to protect people who don’t
know their gender or who have altered it surgically. In Gainesville, Fla., for
example, a man is allowed to use a women’s restroom if he “feels” he is female,
regardless of whether he has had a sex-change operation.
Also, some educators have
advocated a policy of not telling little boys they are boys and little girls
they are girls. They fear this will lead to “gender stereotypes”—such as girls
wanting to play with dolls, boys wanting to drive monster trucks and all kids
thinking heterosexuality is normal.
So far it doesn’t look like
the Canadian couple is setting a popular trend. I doubt parents are going to
send their boys to school in pink tights anytime soon. But this decision was
made because we live in a time of growing gender confusion. To stay on track we
must reclaim some simple principles from Scripture:
1. God created gender. Gender is one of the most
fundamental concepts in the Bible. Genesis 1:27 says God created mankind “male
and female”—and both genders together reflect God’s divine image. God, who is a
spirit, has both masculine and feminine qualities, so when He made mankind He
needed men and women to reflect His nature as well as to procreate.
Gender is determined by the
foreknowledge of God; it is not our choice. He is the Creator, we are the
creature; He is the potter, we are the clay. To say that a child is going to
“choose” his/her gender is the ultimate in rebellion against God’s created
2. Attacks on gender are ultimately aimed at
God. The apostle Paul noted
that the reality of God and his power are clearly evident “through what has
been made”—the Creation—but that sinful and unbelieving people reject this
obvious truth. Romans 1:21 says: “They did not honor
Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and
their foolish heart was darkened.”
All we know about gender is obvious in
nature—and it should be taught at home (as well as in fourth grade
health classes). God made males and females, and when they have sex they often
have children. Same-sex couples can’t have children biologically without help
from the opposite gender. A penis goes with a vagina. A sperm goes with an egg.
It’s a no-brainer. Gender isn’t that difficult to figure out!
It is true that some people develop same-sex
attraction, but this is not because God is confused, or because He occasionally
creates a male with a female psyche, or because He thinks it will be OK for a
certain percentage of men to have sex with each other. Homosexuality is just
one of many manifestations of the fallen world we live in—and anyone who
struggles with sexual brokenness can find healing and freedom in Christ. (And
they should be able to find this healing in any church, without fear of
3. Children should be taught to embrace their
gender, without unhealthy stereotypes. Many modern psychologists think if you reinforce a boy’s masculinity
he’ll grow up to be a wife-beater, a rapist or a violent thug. They also oppose
teaching a girl to be feminine, lest she grow up to believe all she can do is
bake cookies and vacuum.
This was obviously the thinking behind David
Stocker’s decision to keep baby Storm’s gender a secret. He said: “What
we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children. It’s
obnoxious.” Stocker thinks he’s providing freedom to his child by adopting this
choose-your-own-gender policy; in the end, what he’s doing could be classified
as child abuse.
Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should
go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” There’s nothing wrong with
reinforcing a child’s gender—this will result in emotional health. But in a
fallen world where men often oppress women, and where women struggle with their
self-worth, we also must train our kids to rise above unhealthy stereotypes.
masculinity, when transformed by Christ, is not violent or dominating. True
femininity is not defined by inferiority, timidity or domesticity. Boys can be
trained to be strong yet compassionate gentlemen. Girls can be trained to be
confident women of character. And churches can help raise healthy families no
matter how confusing our culture becomes.
J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His most recent book, 10
Lies Men Believe (Charisma House), includes a biblical strategy to end
domestic violence and discrimination against women.