Do you remember when we were asked the question, “Do you know the sex of your baby yet?” That sex was determined in the womb and it never changed from the day the child was born. There was no choice in the matter. Now, however, government forms and surveys provide a checkbox for gender designation which includes, “other.” Our current cancel-culture is advocating the avoidance of all forms of gender-specific language on the grounds that the language makes assumptions which can be unwelcoming and hurtful.
Except in very rare cases, all human beings are born with physiological differences between girls and boys and those differences are simple enough to discover, but what is “other”? How boring would it be to live in a genderless society? What will it be like to have a majority of “others” rather than male and female? Pew Research suggests that 42% of Americans agree that there should be more than just two gender options on forms. These days, a man should likely not whistle at a woman for fear the “woman” might identify as a man. Better quit with any kind of appreciative glances or suggestive winks that might be construed as offensive. Toy brand names are even being updated to encourage kids to “be their authentic selves outside the pressures of traditional gender norms,” says one toy company executive. I can’t help but wonder where the pressure is coming from. Is it actually tradition that has created the pressure or a more recent change in the wind?
When my sister and I welcomed our new little brother into the family, we knew he was a boy. But when my brother joined our family as the third child after two girls, the oft-repeated family joke was that I was supposed to be a boy. Mom and Dad made it quite clear, although not in an unkind way, that they intended to have just two children, a girl and a boy. When I came along as the second girl, they decided they would have to try again! Much to their delight, my brother was born three years after me. It was like my parents really didn’t know what to do with me. My mother bonded with my sister during the three years before my birth. My father bonded with me even though I was supposed to be his boy. My favorite toys were Dinky cars, while my sister’s favorite toys were walking dolls and baking sets. I enjoyed being with my father while he was working on his car. My sister preferred to be with my mother doing “girly” things. My mother didn't prevent me from being with her or my sister, it is just that I preferred being with my father and doing the things he was doing.
There was no pressure. We were, and are, our authentic selves. When I was growing up, there was no pressure to be anything other than what I was. My father taught me that I could get greasy “helping” him fix the car, and yet still be a lady. He bought me my first pair of “high heeled” shoes when I was five or six years old. Mom was busy so she sent my father with me to find a pair of dress shoes. She was unimpressed when we came back with a nice white pair of little girls’ shoes which sported a one inch heel! Dad stood his ground that they would not be returned and I donned my grown up shoes on Sunday morning feeling proud to be a girl! And the sparkle in my daddy’s eyes when he saw me all dressed up with my shiny new shoes, told me he delighted in my femininity. Oh, of course there were times when I said, “I wish I was a boy,” because my brother got to do something that I was not allowed to do. He got to go to a game with the guys, or some other activity that I would have enjoyed as well. That desire, no matter how often I might have had it, didn’t make me a boy. Our preferences did not make us less of the gender into which we were born. Our God-given gender is woven into our DNA which manifests itself in physical attributes and psychological tendencies.
When we learn to appreciate the differences in the sexes instead of fighting them, we honor ourselves and the Creator who made us. Those differences can only be celebrated to their fullest extent through interactions with the opposite sex. Only a man can call out the true beauty of femininity. Only a woman can fully affirm a man’s true sense of masculinity. The differences, when biblically embraced, create the beauty of the sexes. God’s love is not limited by our gender, or by our choices. If you are an “other,” God loves you just as much as God loves me, so I will fight as fiercely for your rights as I do my own. I choose to embrace my femininity, and celebrate, in this instance, my lack of choice, believing that God created male and female and it was very good.
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