When Target was asked why it had a toy aisle with the signs “building sets” and “girls’ building sets” it did the sensible thing: it decided labeling toys as belonging solely to boys or girls was unnecessary.
Yet the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood does not agree this is at all sensible. CBMW’s Executive Director Grant Castleberry wrote:
Over the weekend, Target became the next corporate power, after Amazon, to rid themselves of all gender designations and labels for children’s toys and bedding.
In the corporate rush to not be the company behind the ever-moving gender eight ball, all it seems to take is a few social-media punches from disgruntled, progressive customers, and companies are swift to jump on the winding, zigzag gender line.
The problem is, the line keeps moving and twisting, and in this case, disappearing.
The problem is not that there is a gender line that keeps moving and twisting, but that such a line has never existed in the first place. Or if it has, it is a social construct rather than based on a person’s sex. Mr. Castleberry, on the other hand, insists that these constructs are not cultural but Biblical:
The Bible teaches that men are wired by God to protect and to pursue, so it is not surprising that they naturally like toys that by-and-large involve fighting, building, and racing. Women, on the other hand, are wired by God to nurture and to be pursued, so it is also not surprising that they largely enjoy playing with American Girl Dolls, Barbies, and Disney princess dresses.
Where does the Bible teach that men are wired one way and women another? Mr. Castleberry never says. I think that’s because the Bible doesn’t actually teach this gender wiring.
But let’s put his assertion to the test. I have both a son and a daughter who are now young adults. Allow me to list alternating aspects of each of their experiences.
(a) This child flew to the other side of the world to serve in a developing nation while still a teen, going through all training and travel without either of us parents coming along.
(b) This child served in the nursery ministry at church and worked as a babysitter to earn extra money in High School.
(a) This child enjoyed running through the playground playing tag.
(b) This child enjoyed girls’ birthday parties for classmates from elementary school.
(a) This child was on the music team in college ministry.
(b) This child volunteered to work at Vacation Bible School.
(a) This child bravely decided to attend a university at the other end of California straight out of High School.
(b) This child took advanced placement calculus in High School.
(a) This child served at an inner city rescue mission in one of the roughest parts of San Francisco while still a teen.
(b) This child traveled with the church youth group to a small village in Mexico to play with children.
Now tell me, would you label experiences (a) as masculine or feminine? What about experiences (b)? It’s important to get the label right so you can then correctly identify which of my children is the one who did items labeled (a) and which did (b).
Got it yet?
Answer: my son and my daughter are each child (a) and (b) because everything listed comes from experiences both of them had, sometimes together but more often separately. Which goes to show that labeling a child’s or teen’s choice of activities as either masculine or feminine would not only be unhelpful, but would be a disservice to the child.
More than Masculine and Feminine
Contrary to CBMW’s position, we are not called to be masculine or feminine. These are notions that change with each society over not only time but also distance. After all, how many men do you see greeting each other with a kiss on the cheek as Paul repeatedly instructed them to do? (Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:26.) He’s not the only apostle to issue this instruction either:
Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. (1 Peter 5:14.)
It might be very common in some parts of the world still, but I imagine CBMW would consider it unmanly if starting this Sunday it were taken up in American churches as a regular greeting among the men. Yet if CBMW is going to promote behavior with clear Scriptural support it would be men kissing one another. (Some might even say men kissing men is mandated based on its apostolic pedigree.)
We don’t have to worry about that, though, because our call is to something much higher than merely trying to appear masculine or feminine:
That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:20-24.)
We are created to be like God. No amount of labeling in a toy aisle or at CBMW will change that.