What Franklin Graham Is Wrong About Today (vol 1): Gendering Toys

target_logoWhile I prefer to ignore some of the loudest and most obnoxious voices within Americanized Christianity, some are just so loud and so damaging that ignoring is not an option. Like talking to someone with food stuck in their front teeth, sometimes it’s almost impossible to pretend you didn’t see it and thus say nothing. In light of that, here’s introducing a new and ongoing series called What Franklin Graham Is Wrong About Today. (You’re welcome.)

Vol.1: Gendering Toys

Franklin Graham’s latest fabricated culture war is over Target’s decision to no longer label toys by gender. For example, instead of labeling toy cars as “boy’s toys” they’ll simply be labeled as “active toys.” The change in labeling is an absolutely, positively, harmless change.

I mean, really. Who cares how a store organizes and groups toys?

Well, apparently Franklin does. He’s gone to his Facebook account to promote a boycott of Target over the de-gendering of toys. Here’s what he said:

“The Washington Post reports that Target will stop using gender specific signage in their stores. In order to be gender-neutral, they won’t be separating things like toys and bedding into boys’ and girls’ sections. Oh really? And they won’t be using pink and blue colors to identify sexes. I think Target may be forgetting who has made their stores strong. It’s not gender-neutral people out there—it’s working American families, fathers and mothers with boys and girls they love. What’s next? Are they going to try to make people believe that pink or blue baby showers are politically incorrect? I have news for them and for everyone else—God created two different genders. Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female (Matthew 19:4). You can’t get any clearer than that. If you agree, share in the comments below—and let Target know what you think. Let them know that you are perfectly willing to shop where the genders God created are appreciated. (1-800-440-0680) Target is way off-target on this one!” 

His followers quickly fell in line and went to Target’s Facebook page to leave countless messages expressing disgust and committing to boycotting the store. (And as Friendly Atheist reported, someone is doing some funny trolling over there.)

Here are a few questions I have: where in the Bible does it say that my daughter isn’t allowed to play with a toy car? Is there a section of the Bible (perhaps one of the Lost Gospels?) where it lists out all the toys that boys can play with and all the toys that girls can play with? Which section of the Bible covers the correct way for a secular store to organize and label our beloved plastic toys?

There’s no such thing as a boy’s toy or a girl’s toy. There’s just toys. Any concept of “here’s what boys play with” or “here’s what girls can play with” is a social construct of gender roles— NOT a biblical construct.

Is not a boy who plays with toy pots and pans every bit as much of a boy as the one who plays with toy guns? Isn’t a girl who plays with cars every bit as much of a girl as the one who plays with dolls? What about me– am I less of a man because I have some pink shirts? On the contrary- pink can be an awesome color for guys; I wear pink with boldness, and my masculinity intact. This idea that some toys or some colors are only for one gender and not the other, is absurd. It has nothing to do with Christianity whatsoever.

Furthermore, this “let’s find a culture war and something to boycott” under every rock is making a mockery of American Christians and demonstrating shocking priorities. For example, according to UN statistics 21,000 people died of hunger yesterday. Meanwhile, 750 million people will go without clean water today– the leading cause of death world-wide.

Here’s the deal: in a world where people are dying by hunger, thirst, war and poverty, if what disrupted your sleep last night was the fact that Target is now labeling toys “active toys” instead of “boy’s toys,” you’ve got your own set of problems.

Seriously folks. Relax. They’re toys.

But, Franklin Graham disagrees and thinks you need to boycott Target… and that’s What Franklin Graham Is Wrong About Today.

About Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey is a cultural anthropologist and public theologian. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell (theology & missiology) and received his Doctor of Intercultural Studies (DIS) from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, which is available wherever books are sold.

He is currently signed to HarperOne and is represented by the Daniel Literary Agency in Nashville, Tennessee.

You can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.