As the father of a young man, I know the talks parents have with their sons–or should have. I have had plenty of those talks,…
For Christians, the lessons of Herman Cain are too important to leave in the history books of the 2012 presidential campaign.
Back in the nineteenth century, the British people were introduced to a fairy tale about “water babies” through a story written by Rev. Charles Kingsley. The water babies entered folklore, and generations of British children imagined the water babies and their story.
Now, out of Canada comes another strange story, but this one is not a fairy tale. Two Canadian parents have ignited a firestorm over their determination to raise their third child as a “genderless” baby.
As reporter Jayme Poisson reports, “The neighbors know [Kathy] Witterick and her husband, David Stocker, are raising a genderless baby. But they don’t pretend to understand it.”
Well, the neighbors might take these parents at their word, but the very idea of a genderless baby is nonsense. This is not a baby with ambiguous genitalia, a defect that occurs in a very small percentage of births. The parents admit that this baby has a clear biological sex, but they do not want that to become the child’s identity. They want the child to make that determination at a later date.
To no real surprise, these parents classify themselves on the political and ideological left. Their two older children are both boys, but the parents encourage the boys to act and dress in unconventional ways. So much so, that as the reporter informs us, many who see them assume they are girls.
The new baby, named Storm, is dressed and presented in a manner that makes no clear gender statement. Only the parents, the two older boys, and a close family friend know the truth about the child’s biological sex.
As Poisson reports:
“When the baby comes out, even the people who love you the most and know you so intimately, the first question they ask is, ‘Is it a girl or a boy?’” says Witterick, bouncing Storm, dressed in a red-fleece jumper, on her lap at the kitchen table.
“If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs,” says Stocker.
Well, actually, you do — not in the crass and crude way that Mr. Stoker puts it, but in the virtually universal way that people ask of a baby: Is it a boy or a girl?
The controversy surrounding Storm is a sign of our times. Our rebellion against the Creator has now reached the point that we will deny the fact that our identity is not just our own personal project, but is first of all established in the Creator’s intention — and part of that intention is the fact that we are male or female.
Storm’s parents clearly believe that our personal identity is our own personal project. They lament even the fact that parents make so many decisions for their children. “It’s obnoxious,” Stoker says.
Well, the decision about gender is not something made by parents, but by God. At this point, the Christian worldview and the worldview of secularism run into direct collision. Nevertheless, the objective reality of the child’s gender will eventually become a public issue, regardless of the parents’ intentions. As even they recognize, at some point in the future, decisions about such things as which bathroom the child will use will force the issue.
The major issue at stake in this controversy is the objective reality of sex and gender. We are, in fact, what our genitals tell us we are. This is not because we are genitally determined, but because we were created by a holy God, whose plans and purposes for us are, inescapably, tied to our gender.
Gender is not merely a socially constructed reality. When the Southern Baptist Convention modified its confession of faith, The Baptist Faith & Message, in 2000, it added language that defined gender as “part of the goodness of God’s creation.”
Some observers wondered why that language is important. Now, you know.
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Jayme Poisson, “Parents Keep Child’s Gender Secret,” ParentCentral.ca, Saturday, May 21, 2011.
Historian Niall Ferguson reminds us that Ernest Hemingway once penned a collection of short stories entitled Men Without Women. The stories are haunting, demonstrating the brutality that comes to men without the presence of women — and especially without the companionship of wives.
He recalls the Hemingway collection in order to underline what is at stake in the growing global threat of missing girls and women. The global gender gap in favor of males is a reversion of the natural pattern. How did it happen? By the widespread practice of aborting and killing baby girls — what is rightly called “gendercide.”
As Ferguson explains, “The mystery is partly explicable in terms of economics. In many Asian societies, girls are less well looked after than boys because they are economically undervalued.”
Years ago, economist Amartya Sen put the number of missing girls and women at 100 million worldwide. As Ferguson argues, that number is surely far larger now.
Consider the scale of the problem:
In China today, according to American Enterprise Institute demographer Nicholas Eberstadt, there are about 123 male children for every 100 females up to the age of 4, a far higher imbalance than 50 years ago, when the figure was 106. In Jiangxi, Guangdong, Hainan, and Anhui provinces, baby boys outnumber baby girls by 30 percent or more. This means that by the time today’s Chinese newborns reach adulthood, there will be a chronic shortage of potential spouses. According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, one in five young men will be brideless. Within the age group 20 to 39, there will be 22 million more men than women. Imagine 10 cities the size of Houston populated exclusively by young males.
Ten cities the size of Houston? This staggers the imagination.
Ferguson warns that this gender imbalance has led in the past to outbreaks of expansionism and imperialism. Others have more directly warned of militarism and violence from China’s young men who have no prospects of marriage and a normal family life. These young men are described as China’s “broken branches.” There are millions of these young men in India, as well.
We must look beyond these warnings and see the even larger horror — the tragedy of young girls, aborted and murdered just because they are girls. This, among other vital reasons, is why even the earliest Christians understood abortion to be such a horrific evil. Given the reality of human sinfulness, we now compound abortion with infanticide and gendercide. Is this of interest only to historians and economists?
Niall Ferguson, “Men Without Women: The Ominous Rise of Asia’s Bachelor Generation,” Newsweek, March 14, 2011 (posted March 6, 2011).
There is ample documentation to prove that boys are falling behind in reading skills at virtually every age level. In many cases, boys are semi-literate at best, and many never develop adequate reading skills. They never know the pleasures of a book.
Writing in today’s edition of The Wall Street Journal, publisher Thomas Spence offers helpful advice and insight in “How to Raise Boys Who Read.” After expressing appreciation for the fact that many authorities and parents now recognize the problem, Spence asserts: “The bad news is that many of them have perfectly awful ideas for solving it.”
Everyone agrees that if boys don’t read well, it’s because they don’t read enough. But why don’t they read? A considerable number of teachers and librarians believe that boys are simply bored by the “stuffy” literature they encounter in school. According to a revealing Associated Press story in July these experts insist that we must “meet them where they are”—that is, pander to boys’ untutored tastes.
For elementary- and middle-school boys, that means “books that exploit [their] love of bodily functions and gross-out humor.” AP reported that one school librarian treats her pupils to “grossology” parties. “Just get ’em reading,” she counsels cheerily. “Worry about what they’re reading later.”
Spence isn’t buying that argument, and for good reason. It turns out that boys are not finding an easy path from the “gross-out” books to the love of reading.
There are several enemies of reading in the lives of boys. The educational system is largely feminized, and boys are often not challenged. We must remember that boys have always been boys, as the saying goes. There is nothing in the constitutional makeup of boys that is opposed to reading. Generations of boys grew to love books and lost themselves in stories, adventures, historical biographies, and the like.
The most direct enemies of reading in the lives of today’s boys are video games and digital media. These devices crowd out time and attention at the expense of reading. Spence cites one set of parents who tried to bribe their 13-year-old son to read by offering video games as a reward. Spence is exactly right — don’t reward with video games. Instead, take the games away. If parents do not restrict time spent with digital devices, boys will never learn to read and to love reading.
In another interesting section, Spence cites C. S. Lewis, who expressed agreement with both Aristotle and Plato in arguing, without apology, that boys must be trained in matters of taste. Lewis wrote: “The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likable, disgusting, and hateful.”
That is worth savoring, especially if you have those little human animals in your house.
Thomas Spence, “How to Raise Boys Who Read,” The Wall Street Journal, Friday, September 24, 2010.
A healthy masculinity should motivate men to find their way in this new world of changed economic realities and work opportunities, and to do this while remaining men.
The church would demonstrate the power of the gospel in a whole new way by assisting young people into the successful and faithful transition to adulthood, celebrating this transition as a matter of spiritual maturity to the glory of Christ.
According to the Bible, every single human being is made in the image of God, and is thus, for this reason alone, truly beautiful. Truth wins over “enhancements,” and true beauty resides within an individual’s character. The Bible straightforwardly condemns the human quest for physical beauty as vanity.
With this approach to the Bible, you can simply discard any text you dislike. Just dismiss it as a marginal comment, or deny that Paul even authored the text. This is where the denial of biblical inerrancy inevitably leads — the text of the Bible is deconstructed right before our eyes.
What does it mean for large sectors of our society to become virtual matriarchies? How do we prepare the church to deal with such a world while maintaining biblical models of manhood and womanhood? …The real issue here is not the end of men, but the disappearance of manhood.
The scenario is well known, and the story still haunts the modern mind. The great ocean liner that was built as unsinkable struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912 and sank early the next morning, taking 1,517 of 2,223 lives on board. The RMS Titanic became a parable of modernity — of the limits of technology and the hubris of humanity.
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The vision of sexuality glorified by Playboy is no longer on the cutting edge of moral change. Playboy won the battle and can now leave the battlefield commercially wounded but culturally victorious.
We must speak the truth in love and seek to be good neighbors to all, but we cannot abandon the faith just because we are told that we are now on the wrong side of history.
Americans by the millions are still tuning in to watch Downton Abbey — now in its fifth season — eager to enjoy the continuation of the saga…