This past week an episode of Sesame Street set off a firestorm of debate over whether a boy muppet named Telly should be ashamed that his muppet friends caught him playing with dolls.
In one corner "traditionalists" who called out the episode as gender and sex confused. In the other "modern feminists" who were offended by almost everything the traditionalists said and believe.
In light of these op-eds and arguments I decided to do a bit of personal surveying for myself.
I popped the question to my bride and her best friend as the two couples were headed to Gramercy (in Manhattan) for dinner on Friday night.
"What do you think about boys playing with dolls?" I asked.
"If the dolls are laying around (belong to another child), then it's unlikely to bother me," one of them replied. "If they happen to pick it up, if they are at friend's homes that are girls then it's almost unavoidable."
"But would you ever buy a doll for your young son?" I followed up.
"NEVER!!!" came the reply.
The fervor with which they answered the second question intrigued me. In essence it boiled down to the reality that boys are boys, they are designed to do boy things, and grow from boys into men. Throwing feminine play into the mix delays, interrupts, or intrudes on the development of masculine identity.
In one article Caryn Rivadeneira, writing for Christianity Today, in her even more boldly titled piece, "God Made Boys To Play With Dolls," she argues that: "When we say baby dolls are for girls, that only girls should cuddle and coo dolls, we claim that babies are women's domains, that only mothers should rock and coo and play with their children."
Even though I disagree with her premise, I also disagree with her comparison, and the implied conclusion.
She is arguing that boys should play with dolls because men should become the primary or equal caregivers for newborns? Really?
In a world where abject fatherlessness already exists. In a world where that fatherlessness has single-handidly created the largest welfare state in American economic history. In a world where discernment and wisdom about appropriate sexual behavior is threatening the very well being of our children's future...
Do we really need to question whether or not women are--by nature--designed to be--better at nurturing children?
There is a fascination with the theological and political left in America to appear to have an absence of judgment against immorality, while simultaneously attempting to judge the theological and political right so as to win popularity with the culture, to appear to be intellectual, and to imply that God would love it all.
But to be candid, we are entering "stupid territory" now.
I even confessed to the girls last night that I imagine it won't be all that long into the future before someone writes an article for Christianity Today on the idea of allowing the man to carry the baby to term (since it appears to be medically possible) and that in some way some person will write an article defending it as the ultimate sign of feminist justice.
Meanwhile God sits and laughs at us.
Why? Because we are going to such great lengths to go the other way around the universe to arrive at a simple conclusion: "What's best for children?"
No God didn't make boys to play with dolls. God created boys to grow up and become strong men who would provide for their family and would protect them from the harmful elements of this life. That is the true core of manhood at it's most basic element.
But men that I know personally who excel in that, also generally tend to be some of the most tender-hearted fathers I've ever seen. Fathers whose children feel their love, appreciate their sacrifices, seek diligently to obey or to make them proud, and even desire to pass on a similar legacy when they become parents themselves.
Sometimes the modern feminist (someone who believes in "sameness" between men and women and NOT "equality") ties themselves into pretzel-like knots to argue something foolish to replace something traditional--almost always for no good reason.
In life children are a blessing. In training them to become responsible for their own behavior and consequences it is important to groom them with truth. And the truth is few boys who ever became great fathers ever "played with dolls."
Taking responsibility for your future, owning your actions and behaviors, understanding the choices you make in this life will affect those you love, and preparing them to be ready for it, is what our young men most need to learn.
Miraculously... Having affection for their flesh and blood, learning to be tender with them when they are little and can't sleep, and loving them with all their heart comes much more instinctually to fathers than most feminists would like to believe.
And I should know...
That humility, affection, tenderness and love grew deeper with all three of my sons, and I never played with dolls.