Baby Storm is a boy. Or a girl. No one except the parents, siblings, and grandparents know.
Kathy Witterick and David Stocker have decided to raise their child, named “Storm”, in a gender free environment. In other words, they don’t want Storm to be influenced by cultural stereotypes of what it means to be a boy or a girl. They want Storm to have the freedom to create his/her own gender identity apart from all the cultural ideas of what gender really means. They are taking a bold stand for freedom in an age of gender restriction.
Is this a problem, and if so, why? After all, even most Christians would agree that our culture has unbiblical standards of what it means to be a man or a woman. I don’t want our culture instructing my daughters on the meaning of femininity. So is it really such a bad idea to raise a child in a gender free environment?
To answer that question I find Genesis 1:27 helpful:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
God could have created a race of sexless, genderless beings who all reflected God’s image in exactly the same way. But he didn’t. He created us in his image AND he created us male and female. That second part is so crucial. God created women to reflect God’s image and glory in ways that men never can. God created men to reflect God’s image in ways that women never can. We cannot be gender neutral people.
God intends men to display his image throughout the earth in masculine God-honoring ways. He intends women to display his image throughout the earth in feminine God-honoring ways. Men are called to take dominion over the earth in masculine ways and women are intended to take dominion over the earth in feminine ways.
I can’t image God the way my wife Jen can. She can’t image God the way I can. This is a wonderful, glorious thing, and it shows just how wise God is. There is a divine interdependence between men and women. Neither one can fully display the image of God on their own. Both need each other.
The reason that gender matters is because God cares very much about his image. We don’t get to decide what it means to be a man or a woman. God decides that. He has created us to display his image throughout the world, and when we distort masculinity and femininity we actually distort the image of God.
Do we need to avoid certain cultural stereotypes about what it means to be a man or a woman? Of course. But that doesn’t mean that we abandon the idea of gender altogether. Because God cares about gender. A lot.