It All Started With A Nerf Gun … Raising Boys Who Value Women

By Jessica Wolstenholm

God gave me boys. Two boys, to be exact. Our house is filled to the brim with the color blue, loads of Lego’s and a stockpile of Nerf guns. And that is where it all started, with Nerf guns …


Our eight year old son is obsessed with all things Nerf. Foam darts find their way into the dishwasher and the dryer. We must own all of the guns – the Mastodon, the Thunderbow, the Maverick, and the Demolisher – just to name a few. Through the wonders of advertisement, he recently discovered that there is a Nerf Gun made just for girls. It’s called the Rebelle. It’s pink and it can convert from a gun into a purse.


Upon learning of this fact, my blood pressure sky rocketed. It wasn’t the fact that it was pink. Gender stereotypes have historically divided boys and girls into these colors. It wasn’t the ridiculousness of the gun turning into a purse, even though, that is ludicrous. The boys’ gun doesn’t turn into a wallet, right? And it would be absurd if it did. But words, words matter. Just because a girl wants to play with a gun it doesn’t mean she should be labeled a rebel. And can we please not feminize it even further and spell it the R-e-b-e-l-l-e.


The heart behind my frustration was that even in this day and age we are subconsciously leading children to believe that boys who play with Nerf guns are strong and girls who desire to join in on that fun are rebellious by nature. I was taken off guard by the realization that the gender war happening in our culture had slowly found its way into our home in the form of a toy. As I felt it creeping in, my initial reaction was to pick up my own metaphorical gun and fight against the ideology that even in 2016, it’s common for a boy to grow to be a leader when a woman of the same fortitude is considered tough, difficult, and dissident.


It’s true – often a woman’s passions are seen as dramatic and are easily dismissed rather than viewed as a strength and an asset. An emotional response in today’s workplace is generally classified as being too expressive or engaged and not centered or level-headed enough. A woman leading with her heart can be seen as a flaw and at a disadvantage; therefore our world as a whole is experiencing a decline in compassion as it has been replaced by practicality, greed, and narcissism. Indeed, femininity is not a weakness and can be coupled with a drive and desire that is holy and not rebellious.


The reality as Christians is that these roles were already defined for us, but cultural progress and the ever changing landscape of our family structures make the lines blurry and hard to define even in the church. I believe in my heart that God’s intent was not gender hierarchy and that he didn’t ask us to be submissive to each other based on our whether we are men or women. His intent was for us to submit to each other based on our gifting’s and callings and to lead one another out of our strengths acting as one body.


Scripture says we are all called by God to bring what we offer and work together. This was laid out for us in 1 Corinthians 12:12 – For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. Galatians 3:28 also references that we are all one in Christ –“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” 


My prayer is that they won’t settle for believing the lie that men and women were created equally because that discounts all of the special traits given to each gender. We were created to be one in Christ, working alongside one another for His purpose. And race, gender, or economic status doesn’t declare anyone’s access to the grace and freedom offered in Christ any more than it does result in the gifts of the spirit that we’ve been given individually.


As their little hearts are figuring out this world in which we live, I hope that they see evidence of God’s characteristics in how both men and women were created.


May their assurance in their own manhood not deter what they see in the value and strength of how God created women and may they not be challenged by a strong, passionate female. I pray that the indication of such strength only invigorates them and that they are drawn to such a gift.


And together we will play with all the Nerf guns, but I call the Maverick!