“Are You a Boy or a Girl?”: Addressing Androgyny in the Church

Last week, Josha shared her post “Are You a Man, or Are You a Woman?”: Addressing Androgyny in Society and Culture. This is her follow-up article, that deals with similar issues. Many within the Church do not know what to do with people who are different, especially in the realm of sexuality and expression. We all claim that appearances do not matter. But is that what we are teaching our children? Thanks to people like Josha, I think we can have hope for future generations. -Mandy


I enjoy teaching children’s worship at church and my goals are always to teach kids how to love others and that we are drawn to God through Jesus Christ.

Recently, on a Sunday morning, I was teaching a lesson on how God chooses us. The lesson material provided a parable about a rich girl whose father took her to the best toy store in town to buy a new doll. There were all kinds of dolls such as a nurse, ballerina, princess, and so on.  Despite all the beautiful options the girl asked the store manager if there were any other dolls. The manager said, “We have one more doll but you won’t want her. She was returned dirty and torn. In fact, we were thinking of throwing her away.” The rich girl said, “I’d like to see her anyway.” The manager returned with the doll and as the rich girl reached out she smiled and said, “I want this one.” And as she hugged the doll, the girl said, “She needs me!”

A couple of the children understood the story, but for the rest of the kids I continued to teach and explain that God chooses us and loves us even though we are not perfect. And we ought to love others too, even if they seem different or unusual.

I started to tell a story about a friend of mine who was born with one arm but was able to become a nurse.  I wanted to be sure the kids really understood the point that people are different looking on the outside but valuable and important on the inside.  During this story a boy raised his hand and without me calling on him he blurted out, “Are you a boy or a girl?!”

I said politely, “I’m a girl.”

As I attempted to continue the story, he said, “I couldn’t tell if you are a boy or a girl.”

I said, “That’s okay, I’m a girl.”

At that point, it seemed as though the boy just wanted to get laughs from the class and once again blurted out, “You look like a boy with your short hair!”

By the grace of God I kept my composure and with kindness I turned the situation into a teachable moment and said, “Yes, I look different but you can still love me, right?”

The boy did not answer me, but I think I might have given him something to think about. I went on and continued the lesson that God chooses to love us and that we ought to do the same as Christ and love others who are not perfect, people who are different, and those who don’t seem to “fit-in.”

While the experience above was a more difficult situation, there was another one in which a young boy wanted some honest clarification.

It was a small group of children who appeared to be listening intently to the Bible story as we were seated on the floor side by side in a circle. After I asked a question about the Bible story, a young boy raised his hand. He leaned in toward me and quietly asked, “Are you a boy or a girl? I informed him that I am a girl. He said, “Okay, I was just always wondering.” To this day that kid still comes up to me and initiates a hug. I guess it really didn’t matter to him.

Children are curious but not always courteous. They point fingers at people with one leg or with a missing arm; they stare at people in wheelchairs, they compare when someone has a different skin color. They laugh when someone does something that is not socially acceptable. They ask blatant questions when things aren’t “ideal” or “normal.” We teach them how to react. Don’t we? We either shelter them from people who are different or we expose them to the diversity of this world. We can teach them to either point fingers and view differences as a negative thing, or we can allow them to ask question and then provide answers that teach them how to view others who are different.

We are all different to someone else. I think that is partly why Jesus stated, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”

And Jesus states, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” So, lets teach kids the right way to judge.

And what is the right way to judge?
As it says, in reference to Jesus Christ in Isaiah 11:2-4,
“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.”

I believe that if we judge people through the eyes of Christ, we are more likely to make a right judgment.


One response to ““Are You a Boy or a Girl?”: Addressing Androgyny in the Church

  1. What a great post! It does make me wonder about children and whether we are innately critical of those who are different or if it is something that is learned. I think part of it might be too that deep down inside we realize that we have very little control over much of who we are. We realize how easily it would have been for us to have been born blind or deaf or something like that. Maybe the laughter is a nervous way of putting distance between ourselves and who we realize we could have been. It all makes me very grateful for God’s grace.

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