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Some Thoughts About Natural Gender Swaying

Filed in Parenting, Worldview by on January 29, 2014

Thoughts on Gender Swaying

A reader writes:

I have a question I wish you could help me address with biblical discernment–and that is the topic of “natural gender swaying” (viz. adjusting diet, timing of intercourse, etc. in order to conceive a baby of a certain gender).  My husband and I have Christian friends who have used the Shettles Method first to conceive their desired boy, and then to conceive their desired girl.  I know of others who use the method as well, and it seems to be gaining popularity even within the conservative Christian circle.  So why do I feel uneasy about this?  Are there biblical grounds for my uneasiness, or am I just fearful and old-fashioned?  Is there anything wrong with using the “means” God has given us to pursue particular desires–and if not, then where do we draw the line?

First of all, I talk more generally about this subject in my article, Gender Disappointment: A Christian Response. What I didn’t cover there was the idea of actually taking measures to ensure a boy or girl, so let’s dig into that a little bit here.

Whenever I think about a subject I try to start with what I know for sure. Since I’m just a silly Wemmick, that means I need something a little bigger and more objective than my “little-old-speck-of-me-on-a-very-big-planet” opinion. So my starting place is the Creator of that very big planet. And fortunately He hasn’t left us spinning on our own. He gave us a few Words in a Book, His Son in the flesh about 2000 years ago, and a Helper in His Holy Spirit who lives right inside those that belong to Him.

He is very, very good. All He does is good. And that, incidentally, is one of the things I know for sure because regardless of my personal experiences that might scream to the contrary, His Word says that He is good, and He can see a whole lot further into the future than I can. So He must know. Right?

A Good Rabbit Trail Story

A long time ago I heard this story, and I need to share it with you because I think of it whenever I talk about this whole good/bad thing. I Googled it (Google is my best friend), and found it on a few different websites. It’s the same story, so I think it’s OK to put it here:

It is said that there was once a gentleman in the Middle East. His only possession that really amounted to anything for him, his wife and son, who lived in a little hovel, was a gorgeous Arabian mare. The mare was absolute perfection.

The neighbors always came by and said how lucky he was to have this one beautiful mare. He said he didn’t know whether it was good or bad, he just knew he had this lovely mare.

Well, one night she broke out of the corral and when he got up the next morning, he discovered that she was gone. All the neighbors came by and said how terrible, how bad it was that the mare was gone. He said he didn’t know whether it was good or bad, all he knew was that the mare was gone.

One morning about a week and a half later, she came back and had seven beautiful Arab stallions with her. She brought those in the corral with her. They were all smitten with her, so they went into the corral too. Now all the neighbors came by and said what wonderful luck he had. They said, “You have seven beautiful stallions along with your mare back.” He said, “I don’t know whether it’s good or bad, all I know is I got the mare back and seven stallions with her.”

So while they looked them over, the son decided to break the stallions so they could be ridden and they could sell them. One of the stallions threw him and broke his leg. So he was laid up with a broken leg. They didn’t have those little pins they use now so you could get up and go. He was laid up with a splint.

The neighbors came by and said, “That’s bad, your son has a broken leg.” He said, “I don’t know whether it’s good or bad, I just know my son has a broken leg.”

About this time the king sent his men through the area and took all able-bodied young men to send them off on one of his war ventures. The son couldn’t go because he had a broken leg. The neighbor’s sons all had to go. The neighbors came over and said how lucky the man was because his son didn’t have to go because he had a broken leg. He said, “I don’t know whether it’s good or bad, I just know my son has a broken leg and didn’t have to go with the Army.”

So do you see why I like this story? We only have a tiny, sort of cross-section glimpse of life, and honestly, that isn’t enough to properly assess whether or not something is good or bad. God, on the other hand, has a very, very, very long term view of things. He knows how the whole ball of wax will turn out in the end – and we can trust Him.

Back to Gender Swaying

I had never heard of the Shettles method of trying for a boy or girl. And then I Googled it (what did I tell you about Google?) and found out I HAD heard of it. I just didn’t know it had an official name. Briefly, here’s what Wikipedia says:

According to the theory, male (Y) sperm are faster but more fragile than female (X) sperm. Further, acidic environments harm Y sperm, according to the theory, making conception of a girl more likely….To have a boy, insemination should occur as close as possible to the moment of ovulation so that the faster, Y-sperm arrive first and achieve conception, according to the theory. When seeking a girl, the couple should have sex 2½ to 3 days before ovulation….Shallow penetration coupled with the sperm deposited close to the entrance favors female conception because the area is more acidic, which inhibits the weaker Y sperm, according to the theory. To allow the Y sperm, which supposedly moves faster, to reach the egg first, use deeper penetration to deposit the sperm at the least acidic area near the uterus opening.

Proponents claim between 75 and 90 percent effectiveness, but experts do not agree that the method works; for example, the 1995 article ‘Timing of Sexual Intercourse in Relation to Ovulation—Effects on the Probability of Conception, Survival of the Pregnancy, and Sex of the Baby’, in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes that “for practical purposes, the timing of sexual intercourse in relation to ovulation has no influence on the sex of the baby.”[1]

To find out more, check out THIS more detailed article on FertilityFriend.com.

What I Know For Sure

1. God is good.
“O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” 1 Chronicles 16:34

2. God is in control.
“My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth” Psalm 139:15

3. Wemmicks make plans, but God directs them.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Psalm 16:9

We see countless examples of this in Scripture. There is nothing wrong with desiring to have a boy or a girl, and there is nothing wrong with mankind figuring out stuff that God set in motion. (i.e. how conception takes place and which conditions are more conducive to conceiving a boy or girl.) The world is an incredibly complex place to explore. I think God intended for us to explore it, discover things, and use those discoveries.

I think if we are using supernatural heeby jeeby stuff to try to get a boy or girl (i.e. “how are the stars aligned tonight, dear? Did we get that frog and newt’s eye going on the stove?” then we are playing with, well, supernatural heeby jeeby stuff. And God says to keep away. That’s from the liar’s lair and not safe.

But if we are taking what we know about science and seeing if we can make it work to our advantage, I don’t see an issue with that (unless it violates God’s law, obviously). It’s basically using God’s laws of nature, recognizing that the decision is ultimately Gods. That’s how humans can fly in airplanes, for example. I don’t believe it is a sin in and of itself to try to sway the gender of a future child anymore than it is a sin to try to conceive a child in the first place.

Here’s where the danger lies: if we have our heart set on a boy or a girl, and we actively pursue this and God gives us what we want, we can swing into pride. You know. “I did such and such and IT WORKS!!!” Rather than, “God gave us this child. HE WORKS!” There’s just something God honoring in that second statement, and that’s really what our lives are all about.

Or what if we have our heart set on a boy or a girl, and we actively pursue this, and God DOESN’T give us what we want? Our disappointment can be greater than is probably necessary. We’re talking about a human life created in the image of God, whether it’s a boy or a girl. It is precious. To be disappointed over a miracle is pretty pathetic when you stop and think about it. Very short sighted. Very Wemmicky.

WHY do we want a boy or a girl anyway? I’ll tell you why. It’s to fulfill ourselves. Key word: ourselves. Self. Me. Me. Me. I want. I need. I must have. We whine, “I already HAVE a girl. Where’s MY boy?” Or, “I wanted to dress up a little girl and have tea parties. That was my life-long DREAM!!! WHAAAAAA!!!!”

I’m having fun with this. Ask me how I know about whining. I’ve got one living inside my skin and a whole bunch living inside the four walls of my house.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting things. There’s something wrong with demanding that we have those things. With making those things our demi-gods. We all do this. We all do this daily, so we can’t point our finger at others and declare hell-fire and brimstone upon them for their kowtowing to idols. We’re just hiding ours. So this article really isn’t written for your friend or your sister. It’s written for me. It’s written for you. (That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share it on Pinterest or Facebook though.)

The Bottom Line

We see a speck on the speck of our itty bitty life in history. How can we possibly know what is best? God has galaxies and all of history and all of eternity in His sights. How can He NOT possibly know what is best?

Sometimes we don’t get what we want (the plastic necklace).

Sometimes God gives us something a whole lot better (the diamond necklace). 

The real question underneath this whole issue is, which one will you take? And will you be smiling or frowning when you take it?

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About the Contributor

Natalie Klejwa is a Wemmick, loved by the Woodcarver, wife of 22 years to Joe, and mother to 9 Wemmicks ages 2-20. She is a business owner (Apple Valley Natural Soap), founder and administrator of the Visionary Womanhood blog, publisher and contributing author of Three Decades of Fertility, and a contributing author of The Heart of Simplicity: Foundations for Christian Homemaking and You Can Do It Too: 25 Homeschool Families Share Their Stories. You can hear her being interviewed on Kevin Swanson's Generations with Vision radio program. Follow Natalie on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google +. View all posts by Natalie →

Comments (17)

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  1. Britney Williams says:

    Wow, great thoughts! Thank you so much for sharing so much truth straight out of Scripture. It really puts this discussion, and many others, in proper perspective. We weren’t trying, but with our first two children we ended up doing what that Wikipedia article said to do to conceive a boy, followed by a girl! That’s what we got. God does work by these laws He set into place, but we fool ourselves when we think we can manipulate them to our purposes. I’ve also seen that first hand in my life. Thanks again!

  2. Becky says:

    This is very wise – thanks for posting it!
    The Lord has been trying to teach me this for years (not about baby gender, but about trusting Him to know what He’s doing) – and little by little, I’m almost sort-of starting to get it… maybe!
    Isn’t it funny, as we look back on our walks with Him, that we can see time and time again times where we had our hearts set on something, He said no, and now we can see what a blessing it was… only to fret again when we get our hearts set on something else!
    “…for He knoweth our frame. He remembereth that we are dust…”
    I am so very thankful!

  3. Shelly says:

    I’ve never given this subject any thought before. The bottom line, though, is that ALL children are beautiful gifts from God. He knows the plans He has for them.
    Shelly recently posted…Navigating the Red Tape- Part 2: How Do I Comply?My Profile

  4. Karen says:

    Like Shelly, I never thought or heard of such things. Thank you for writing on it and directing us to the Lord. I have 6 children, 5 girls and 1 boy. I never really thought about what I wanted to have. In fact, the Lord made me wait for a couple of years of trying before He blessed me with a baby and then I miscarried. I didn’t understand it then, but He blessed me with another baby one month later. I believe that He wanted the first fruits of my womb. Then when I had my daughter by C-section, (I really wanted a natural birth), I was in the hospital for a whole week. One morning, the Lord dropped into my heart, “you will be pregnant again in the Fall”. I was so excited. Of course, my husband wasn’t so thrilled and said, let’s wait and see. It was January when my daughter was born. So in the Fall, I approached my husband and said…”it is Fall!” :) and he said, next month we will try. Actually, we were already pregnant! After having 3 daughters, we were very content and neither of us were bent on “we must have a boy”. There came a day, however, that my husband went walking in a park near our home, and as he was talking to the Lord, this desire for a son welled up in his heart. When he told me, I knew that I would be pregnant again and that this time it would be a boy…and of course, it was! The Lord is so good! He knows what is good and what is best, always.
    Karen recently posted…Reflections…What am I reflecting?My Profile

  5. Cindy says:

    Don’t you hate it when you go to comment on a blog post and realize there’s just nothing you can add to the conversation? I would like to let you know I’m reading, but I don’t really have anything useful to add. You’re just right, is all. LOL
    Cindy recently posted…DeceivedMy Profile

  6. tereza crump says:

    Cindy, I am reading your book. I am enjoying it very much. :)

    Natalie, I love your rabbit trails stories. I had read this one before and it goes hand in hand with one of my favorite verses in the Bible – Rom. 8:28.

    As for baby boy or girl… I got 3 girls and 1 boy lost in the middle of them. I would love to have another boy, but my husband is taking a baby break right now (I am hoping it’s temporary.). I have thought of doing the said method to try to conceive a boy but I just don’t feel right about it.

    Let me explain…all my children were conceived when we were NOT actively pursuing a baby. For me they are truly gifts from God and I remind myself of THAT when I am having a hard day. If I were to get pregnant with said boy because I used said method, I know my heart and I would be bragging on myself. I have that tendency. (the other day we went bowling with another family and I bragged – didn’t mean to, it’s just in me, I guess! – that I had only bowled twice and I was really good at it! Well, pride comes before fall. I was the worst player with the lowest score. hahahhaa I learned my lesson!) So, my conscious will not allow me to swing either way. It’s in God’s hands and plans like the other 6 were (I had one miscarriage and one abortion – in my previous life.).

    So yeah, God is good! He is awesome in all His ways! :) In the meantime, I put my heart before the Lord and let Him do the transformation and I get yo enjoy His mercies that are new every morning. :)
    tereza crump recently posted…Learning Log of December 2013My Profile

  7. I am always amazed at how you can clear away all the cobwebs that entangle a current issue and are able to think clearly and biblically about that issue. Then you have this amazing way of explaining it so well! I love how the Lord uses you as a vehicle to help the rest of us understand how God’s Word applies to current topics. Thank you again!

  8. Sarah D. says:

    Wonderful post. My Mom said that she actually used that method and it worked. She had 2 girls, then 2 boys… and a surprise girl. =) God has a sense of humor! Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, He throws in something else.
    We’re expecting our 4th child, which we think is a boy. We were kind of hoping for a girl since our children so far go boy, boy, girl. But, we aren’t in charge of whether or not we have a child (God showed us that), so we’re just excited to welcome this new one no matter what the gender. =)

  9. Susan Davis says:

    I don’t want to offend anyone for having feelings of disappointment, but I am sad this is an issue at all. As a mother I could never imagine only wanting a boy or girl child. I have 5 children, and after the first one I didn’t even ask the gender anymore. The first time they said they were fairly certain but not positive. So I decided if I was told there was a boy but norther a girl- I might be disappointed, so I just stopped asking after #1. I’m 30 years old, so not old fashion. I just don’t see how its my place to impose on Gods blessings.

    • What a tremendous blessing that this is not an idol for you! When we see that God has given us grace to avoid one pitfall, we can fall on our knees and thank Him for that grace, humbly pray for those who struggle, and then look to the idols we DO have, weep over those, and seek His mercy and grace to overcome. That way God gets the glory as His love is poured out through us toward others. A beautiful thing!

  10. Ren says:

    Excellent article and story. I need to NOT have an opinion.

    God bless,

    Ren
    Ren recently posted…Hello world!My Profile

  11. Lisa says:

    Great post! God knows who he needs and when he needs them.This is what makes me crazy when I think about abortion, and all the people we are missing out on ( as a society) who were meant to bless us all… But that is another rabbit trail. :)

    Maybe the gender “timing” thing might be worth a shot for farmers breeding cows, but people are a whole different issue. :)

  12. For some reason, this whole concept makes me feel just a little sad. I recognize that it’s probably a result of having walked through the loss of babes before before birth, as well as secondary infertility, but … I gratefully take any child the Lord gives me. Boy. Girl. I don’t care. I just want the chance to hold that little soul, even for a moment. It’s a blessing I never take for granted.
    Heather @To Sow a Seed recently posted…On patienceMy Profile

    • Yes, my first baby was a healthy girl born at 21 weeks who died shortly after birth. I had hoped for a boy. That experience along with four other losses worked to temper my entire outlook on this subject as well. A severe mercy.