A new trend in parenting is to allow children to self-determine their gender when they are young and not in any way identify them as either boys or girls, what some are calling "theybies."
NBC recounted Thursday in a report called "Raising Theybies: Kids Who Decide Their Gender," the story of Julie and Nate Sharpe. The Sharpes opted to raise their twin children, Zyler and Kadyn, using "they, them, their" pronouns "so they can decide for themselves if, when, and how they want to identify as a gender."
The reason for this is to raise children outside of gender norms and guard them from negative gender stereotypes, they explain. The Sharpes did not disclose the biological sex of their children in the report and say they intend to tell their kids when they grow older that gender is "fluid" and that not everyone with a penis is a boy as some persons with male sex organs identify as female. The family is reportedly a part of a small Facebook community of like-minded parents who are raising their kids in a similar manner.
Liberal commentator Cathy Areu defended the idea of "theybies" on Tucker Carlson's Fox News program last week, arguing that it is fine for parents not to label their kids one gender or the other and kids can decide which one they want to be around age 4. She maintained that choosing ones gender is "not a profound life decision."
The notion that young children can or should choose their gender for themselves has evoked strong reactions across social media and elsewhere.
Jerry Walls, professor of philosophy at Houston Baptist University considers this as an assault on creation and reality itself, pointing out in a Monday phone interview with The Christian Post that when God created man in the image of God, he specifically made two sexes.
"So there's something very particular and intentional about male and female in the created order in the creation narrative in Genesis 1," he commented, "and to mess and play around with this is really an assault on something utterly fundamental."
"It's easy to laugh this off as a few zany, fringe people, and maybe that's all it is for the moment. But there's something really serious going on in that fundamental challenge."
Walls continued that he finds it "disturbing" that the arguments put forward for this kind of parenting technique often center on avoiding gender and sexual stereotypes, and the children are being used as guinea pigs in a social experiment.
"You don't have to go to those extreme measures to avoid that problem. It's a classic case of overkill," he said.
"Yes, you can teach little girls to be strong. You can teach little boys to be sensitive, kind, and gentle. You can teach girls to be leaders. Nothing wrong with any of that, and that's perfectly fitting with the creation design. Yet in order to correct what they see as these stereotypes they're reaching for an extreme measure way out of proportion to the nature of the problem."
The bottom line is that human beings cannot refashion reality the way we might want it to be, he said.
In a Tuesday CP opinion piece, author and theogian Jim Denison argued that letting a child choose his or her gender is a symptom of an underlying heart condition, an ancient temptation rooted in the deception that humans can be like God. He pointed out other examples of this belief operating in culture.
"Scripture clearly teaches that God created us in his image as 'male and female' (Genesis 1:27) and values males and females equally (Galatians 3:28). He has a purpose for our lives before he makes us (Jeremiah 1:5)," he said.
"For several decades, however, our culture has embraced the lie that truth is what we believe it to be. Such relativism explains the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the legalization of abortion in 1973. It gave birth to same-sex marriage in 2015. It makes our bodies and lives our own to do with as we wish."
Other critics accused the parents of child abuse.
"This is called #ChildAbuse," Christian columnist Kevin McCullough said on Twitter Friday, adding that "it's not cute, it's not 'tolerant,' and it actually prevents the child from knowing truth."
"They NEED parents to help form development in thinking as much as biology. These parents are lazy, uninformed, misguided and abusive."
While the parents of the "theybies" in the NBC report do not discuss using puberty blockers or transgenderism per se, the implicit message is that the human body has no material meaning. And this message is a destructive, confusing one to send to children, according a leading pediatrician.
A Daily Signal video that was posted in May in which Dr. Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians, outlines the harms of gender ideology, appears to be resonating widely as it has reached nearly 70 million views.
To tell children that they were possibly born in the wrong body "disrupts the very foundation of a child's reality testing," she said.
"If a child can't trust the reality of their physical bodies, who or what can they trust?"