Gender Reveal Parties: Silly or Something More?

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“A gender what?” The first time my wife told me about a gender reveal party, my eyes nearly rolled back into my head. It seemed like another excuse for millennials to fabricate a Pinterest-perfect moment.

USA Today confirms that “The rise of the gender reveal party seems inextricably tied to social media. Search YouTube and you can watch more than 500,000 videos of expectant couples slicing cakes, setting off smoke bombs and bashing piñatas to expose one of two colors: pink or blue.”

Between church, school, and social occasions, I saw no need to add another event to our brimming schedule. But then, one morning, my wife rolled over and popped the news that she was pregnant. Twelve weeks later, it was my job to design invitations and help plan our gender reveal party. And surprisingly, those twelve weeks shifted my perspective. While I still think it’s a bit Hallmarkesque, there is something more significant about gender reveal parties than creating content for Instagram. In a world which demonizes the gender distinctions that God created, gender reveal parties join the Creator in celebrating them as “very good.”

The Redefinition of Gender

Nearly every popular article about gender reveal parties raises objections to the symbolism of pink and blue. For centuries, the words “gender” and “sex” were essentially synonymous, but today many believe that gender is a matter of self-conception and not necessarily linked to one’s biological sex. For example, Tinder’s 2016 update included 37 gender identity options, including agender and genderqueer. Many champion pronouns such as “they” to replace “he” and “she.”

The Bible does not distinguish between sex and gender but makes sex the basis for all its distinctions. Article Four of The Nashville Statement affirms the link between biological sex and self-conception as male or female:

WE AFFIRM that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for self-conception as male or female.

WE DENY that physical anomalies or psychological conditions nullify the God-appointed link between biological sex and self-conception as male or female.

Christians should be patient and compassionate while taking an uncompromising stand for a Biblical conception of gender and sex.

Celebrating God’s Design

One of the ways that we take a stand for Biblical truth is by celebrating it as good news. While we need to set down what we are against, we also need to happily herald what we are for. The gospel is good news for every area of life, including gender.

Article five of The Nashville Statement asserts:

WE AFFIRM that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God’s original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.

WE DENY that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.

“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” (Matthew 19:4). “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). For most parents, discovering a child’s gender is still a “very good” moment of pregnancy, and it is right that we should celebrate it. If that means sanctifying the moment by having a gender reveal party, bring on the pink and blue cupcakes!

Sanctifying the Moment

Here are three suggestions if you are considering a gender reveal party.

CHECK YOUR MOTIVES

One writer muses, “I imagine the ‘gender reveal’ party is a bit of a fad that will fade in and out of popularity on its own.” If you choose to have a gender reveal party, don’t do so merely because it’s trendy. And if you have one, don’t stress about picture-perfect invitations or decorations. (Spoiler: It will never be as good as Pinterest.) Celebrating the joy of gender with family and friends does not require you to break the bank or organize an advertising campaign.

Keep the focus on what really matters: joyfully celebrating God’s gift of gender with your family and friends.

THINK PINK AND BLUE, NOT RIFLES AND RUFFLES

Symbols of maleness and femaleness are Biblical and right (e.g., “hair like the hair of women” in Rev. 9:8 or “pain like a woman in childbirth” in Jer. 22:23). For most people, the dichotomy between pink and blue is a symbolic acknowledgment that there are two distinct genders and that girls should be feminine while boys should be masculine. Pink and blue are not overly specific, however, in that they leave room for diverse expressions of masculinity and femininity. In a manner of speaking, some boys grow up to be a gentle, easygoing blue while others are an intense, dark navy. Both are 100% man. Some girls grow up to be a delicate, rosy pink while others are a deep, bold magenta. Both are 100% woman.

Contrast this to some of the themes that are popular on Pinterest, such as “Rifles or Ruffles?” and “Wheels or Heels?” These are fun and harmless at twenty weeks, but parents need to be aware of how they could affect their children at twenty years. A preacher once shared a story about his two teenage sons. He frequently introduced his first boy as an avid hunter, lover of the outdoors, and “100% man.” He praised the second boy, who was more like Jacob than Esau, as highly intelligent and capable. Only after several months did he realize how this seemingly harmless distinction had seriously hurt his younger son. The father wept when his boy asked him, “What percentage of a man am I, dad?” Celebrating gender means celebrating a diverse range of personalities and preferences.

CHOOSE SIMPLICITY AND JOY

Creative expression is part of the image of God in man. It’s healthy to brainstorm creative ways to reveal your baby’s gender, as long as it’s fun and reasonable. Since my wife and I discovered our baby’s gender around Christmas time, my brother-in-law suggested that we decorate the tree with blue and pink lights. You don’t have to be like the father-to-be who jumped out of an airplane attached to a professional skydiver, revealing billows of colored smoke that signaled the gender to his family below (although, that’s pretty cool).

Keep the focus on what really matters: joyfully celebrating God’s gift of gender with your family and friends.

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Johnathan Arnold
Johnathan Arnold is President and Founder of Holy Joys. He serves as a preaching and teaching pastor in Newport, PA, where he lives with his wife Alexandra and son Adam. You can connect with him on Twitter @jsarnold7.