Sign of the Times: Swedish Preschool Has no ’Him’ or ’Her’

This just in from Stockholm, Sweden

At the Egalia preschool, staff avoid using words like “him” or “her” and address the 33 children as “friends” rather than girls and boys. From the color and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure children don’t face “gender stereotypes.” 

Jenny Johnsson, a 31-year-old teacher noted, “Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty, and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing. Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be.” 

The tax-payer funded pre-school is among the most radical examples of Sweden’s efforts to “engineer equality” between the sexes from childhood onward. Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the national curriculum for preschools. To even things out, many preschools have hired “gender pedagogues” to help staff identify language and behavior that risk “reinforcing stereotypes.” 

What Happens When There Are No Norms

 Some Swedish parents worry things have gone too far (you don’t say!). An obsession with obliterating gender roles, they say, could make the children confused and ill-prepared to face the world outside kindergarten (you think!). 

If I didn’t read it myself, I would think it was something from Orwell’s 1984. Or, something from a very poorly written Christian fiction novel. Egalia!?

But why be surprised? Once we eliminate any norms, anything goes. And then it’s only a matter of time before everything goes. 

The Creation/Fall/Redemption of Gender

A blog is hardly the place for a full-blown, robust theology of gender. But let’s at least ponder a Readers’ Digest version of the creation, fall, and redemption of gender. 

Creation

Gender is God’s idea. It is not “socially-constructed.” 

In the beginning God created humanity in His image, “in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:24-25). 

God created us male and female in body and soul. 

In the mystery of the Trinity, there is something about male and female together that reflects the very image of God. In the mystery of male and female as one, there is an inner shalom, contentment, oneness, intimacy, integrity, peace, and wholeness.

 Fall

At times, can we stereotype gender in ways that distort God’s original design? Absolutely. Even more, Adam and Eve sinned in their gender (Genesis 3:1-7), they experienced inner gender consequences (Genesis 3:8-15, they experienced relational (male/female, husband/wife) gender consequences (Genesis 3:16-24). 

Furthermore, read Genesis and the many “texts of terror” where fallen males misuse and abuse fallen females, and you will see a primary message of the Genesis narrative. The fall ruined gender relationships and gender identity. Gender confusion and gender abuse is a result of sin. 

Redemption

But God. The two greatest words in the English language. 

Our redemption in Christ not only restores our relationship to God, it also restores our gender shalom—our own sense of who we are as males and females in Christ. And it restores our gender relationship—unity in diversity, different but equal (Ephesians 5:21-33; 1 Timothy 2:1-15; 1 Peter 3:1-7). 

We are reconciled to God. We are reconciled to one another as male and female. We are reconciled to ourselves—made whole and re-integrated in our maleness and femaleness. 

Philosophical Confusion

The fallen world is philosophically confused. “Egalia” contends that you must eliminate gender inequality by eliminating all gender differences. But this confounds and conflates two totally different categories: equality and similarity. It assumes that only in sameness is there equality. God our Creator tells us that we can be different in essence but equal, identical in value, worth. 

In a bizarre way, Egalia is blind to the fact that they are the ones insisting upon “social construction.” Instead of accepting reality—male and female are different not only in body but also in soul—Egalia socially constructs the never-before-heard-of argument that there is no gender. Rather than granting children the “fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be,” they are forcing children to attempt to be what they can never be—the opposite of who they truly are. 

As Jay Belsky notes in his response in the article. “The kind of things that boys like to do—run around and turn sticks into swords—will soon be disapproved of. So gender neutrality at its worst is emasculating maleness.” There is no gender neutrality—it equally damages males and females. 

Theological Foolishness

But the world is not only philosophically confused. It is also theologically foolish. 

Not simply foolish as in ignorant. But foolish as in “The fool has said in his heart, ‘No!’ to God” (Psalm 14:1; see also Psalm 10:1-4). Foolish as in the fool who suppresses the truth that there is a Creator God who made His creatures male and female in body and soul (Romans 1:18-32). 

So What Does the Church Do?

It’s easy in a blog typically read by a “friendly audience” to score points by exposing the folly of Egalia. But God calls us to more, much more. We are to be salt and light. We are to make the teachings of our Savior attractive (Titus 3:10). 

  • How spiritually and relationally attractive are our female souls and our male souls? 
  • How attractive are our male-female relationships—is there purity, honor, and beauty? 
  • How attractive are our husband-wife relationships—is there mutual respect and sacrificial love? Is there intimacy and joy? 
  • What level of gender shalom are we displaying—do people sense the beauty of our contentment with and confidence in our femaleness, our maleness? 
  • Are we leading the charge in fighting against the types of abuse we read about in biblical texts of terror—male emotional, sexual, physical, and mental abuse of females? 
  • Are we leading the charge for equality of personhood regardless of gender differences? 
  • In our homes, in our churches, in our own souls, how well are we displaying the beauty of unity in diversity, of different but equal? 
  • In our churches and counseling offices, how well are we being ambassadors of male and female reconciliation? 

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