The Androgynous Middle

It is called the “Hjalli Teaching Model.” Founded in 1989 by self-described “radical feminist” Margret Pala Olafsdottir, several nursery and elementary schools in Iceland (where Olafsdottir is from) now use the model. The goal? Their words, “to counter stereotypical gender roles and behaviors.”

At the schools, everything is gender-neutral, including the identical uniforms boys and girls must wear. But for most of the day, the genders are separated. Why? So, they can practice behaviors usually associated with the other sex.

What does this look like? Lessons involve girls practicing acts of bravery and strengthening their courage. They practice running barefoot in the snow without screaming and are instructed to be more direct with their feelings. In short, they are taught how to become more like a boy.

Lessons involve boys styling each other’s hair, painting their nails, and giving each other full-body massages. They carry around dolls. In short, they are taught how to become more like a girl.

I do not know if there are any Hjalli Schools in America, but their aspirations and their methods have been implemented for years in our country. Males are to be more feminine. Females are to be more masculine. And lets all meet in the middle for a big androgynous hug.

Of course, all of this is antithetical to God’s design. Secularists think Christians want to go back to 1950’s norms or further back to Victorian ways. Biblically minded Christians, however, find their model and inspiration way back in the Garden. That is where God made male and female. And that is where gender roles and distinctives were instituted.

Culturally, we used to be at a place where it was enough for the church and family to teach our girls to be godly women and to teach our boys to be godly men. It has become necessary that we back up a step. Now we need to teach our girls to be girls and our boys to be boys.

If our girls are “tomboys,” we cannot assume they will grow out of it. There must be instruction. There needs to be opportunities and outlets to foster femininity. Sometimes that means wearing a dress when they rather would wear pants. Sometimes that means taking them to the ballet instead of the ballgame.

Likewise for our boys. If they gravitate to the finer and gentler aspects of life, fine and good. But there needs to be opportunities and outlets to foster masculinity. They need to get dirty, play sports, or develop a love for the outdoors.

In other words, given culture’s assault on biblical sexuality, Christian parents must be more intentional than previous generations needed to be. At one time it was sufficient to teach our girls to be godly women and to teach our boys to be godly men. To assure our girls and boys become such, we must now add an additional step, teaching our girls how to be girls and our boys how to be boys.

The world wants to knock the “pink” out of our girls. And it wants to knock the “blue” out of our boys. If we are not prayerfully vigilant and intentional, we run the risk of our children being pulled into the growing mass in the middle for that big androgynous hug.

Pastor Rich Hamlin
May 9, 2024

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