Impertinent question of the month

When people find out my wife and I have just had a son after three daughters, most of the time we get some form of the same basic reaction: “Oh, so you kept trying until you had a boy, huh?” In a lot of cases, I suspect it’s people trying to make sense on their own terms of the fact that yes, we just intentionally had a fourth child—they can’t imagine themselves doing such a thing, except perhaps with some particular and significant provocation. In a sense, it’s not completely false; as it happens, we picked out a boy’s name years and years ago, and we rather felt that it would be sad if we never met the person to whom the name belonged. Aside from that, though, we would have been just as happy with a fourth girl. The gender isn’t the point.

I don’t want this to come across wrong, because I believe male/female differences are real and important and valuable; I believe the reality of our two sexes, and the deeper and more profound reality of gender of which our biological sexes are a concrete instantiation, matters more than we know. But my children are not abstractions, they are not generalities, they are not case studies—they are themselves. They are particular specific people, and the fact that three of them are girls and one is a boy is very much part of that, but it’s only part of who they are as whole people, and I wanted them for themselves.

Yes, they are created in the image of God, male and female, as are their mother and I; but that’s not all that defines them. They are creators and destroyers; they are accomplished sinners and saints in training; they are capable of genius and prone to folly; and so am I all of those things as well, and heaven help all of us as I try my best to do my part to raise them to be better and more faithful and more loving disciples and friends of Jesus than I am. Trying for a boy? No, as well say we were trying for a pianist (though judging by his infant fingers, we might have managed that); we were trying to welcome the child God intended to give us in trust, as his stewards, to raise in his name and for his glory, to join the others whom he had already given us in the same way. It’s not about us or what we want at all, it’s about him.

Though I will say, it’s nice to have a baby sleeping on my shoulder again.

Posted in Children, Personal, Religion and theology.


  1. Fabulous Post.

    We intentionally had four too. But ours went Boy Girl Girl Boy so we avoided the questions 🙂

    Loved the thoughts here.

  2. Well, now you know how long it's been since I've read your blog, but…


    And… "as well say we were trying for a pianist…"

    That's *awesome.* Thanks for the grin, Rob. 🙂

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