Union University
Union University Dept of Language


Do Men Have The Backbone For Pregnancy?

Director of the Institute for Intellectual Discipleship

December 13, 2007 - Despite the fervent convictions of gender anti-essentialists, it appears that science is once again corroborating what Christian complementarians (and perhaps even pagans with a modicum of common sense) have always known. Men and women are different!

A recent issue of the journal Nature shockingly reveals that women are physiologically better-suited to pregnancy than men. It turns out that female spines are specially adapted to carrying the weight of an unborn child during pregnancy. According to Katherine Whitcome, a Harvard University anthropologist and a lead author of the study, the male spine could not endure the strain for nine months. In an interview with NPR, Whitcome said that over the course of nine months a man’s “vertebrae would be subject to fracture and sustain various injuries.”

There you have it. Men lack the backbone for pregnancy!

As I suggested above, news like this only scandalizes those for whom the categories of “male” and “female” are mere socio-linguistic or cultural constructions. They deny what Scripture and reality affirm: male and female are woven into the fabric of our humanity (see Genesis 1:27).

The tragedy of this denial is not primarily related to its implications in the debate between Christian egalitarians and complementarians over the role of women in church leadership and the home. Rather, what makes the anti-essentialist view so tragic is that it strips the universe of all moral meaning.

Moral meaning that is given is absolutely essential to make sense of one’s life as a human being, whether male or female. A world in which nothing is given is a world that is meaningless – one in which we cannot ultimately make any sense of our lives.

Thankfully, though it refuses to die, the anti-essentialist view is false. We can make sense of our lives because we have been given natures, male and female, through which we begin to understand who we are. And we have different backbones to prove it!