“Despite many serious reservations, I recommend this book to some discerning readers…
Are boys and girls different at the nature level? The Bible indicates that they are, and so does medical doctor and secular psychologist Leonard Sax. Why Gender Matters is a fascinating and fun book. On many occasions, you will find yourself laughing out loud and wanting to read a section to your spouse. If you grew up in the public school system in the 70s, 80s or 90s, then you were raised at the height of the gender-neutral paradigm that continues to dominate our American culture. You, your parents, and your teachers were told that differences between girls and boys were a result of how you were raised, not how you were born.
Armed with a comprehensive survey of scientific and psychological gender studies from the past twenty years, Sax bravely argues against the gender-neutral status quo in favor of innate differences between the sexes. There is some great information here for Christian teachers, pastors, and parents, but there are also some serious shortcomings.
Sax is a secular author. He has no moral misgivings with homosexuality, evolution, or secular philosophy (including Nietzsche). As a result, Sax’s interpretation is far from Christian. Though this is a book without an awareness of the main thing, the gospel, it is still helpful on some peripheral things. By God’s common grace, Sax’s work stands against the dominant social norms in our country and he unknowingly supports many of the Bible’s traditional teachings on gender. For all that Why Gender Matters is in a negative sense: a secular book by a secular author with a secular agenda; it was, in a positive sense, very helpful to me as a father of three girls and two boys. Any Christian reader of this book should keep these cautions in mind and realize that reading Sax is like reading an incomplete and sometimes misleading work. Christian filtering and interpretation of Sax’s data is vital.
Despite its weaknesses, pastors, teachers, parents, and mature Christians should be helped by the content of this book. I was particularly struck by the number of studies that run counter to or refine conventional wisdom or cultural bias on gender issues. For example, have you ever wondered why your daughter draws colorful pictures, but your son at the same age is quite content with scribbling in black. How did you handle the difference. Did you praise your daughter and discipline your son because you didn’t feel he was taking coloring seriously? Maybe you decided that boys develop more slowly than girls, so you just allowed your son more time to develop. The reality is significantly more complicated. Sax illustrates this complexity by pointing to recent studies on the eye in young boys and girls. It turns out that there are larger concentrations of P cells in the eyes of girls and M cells in boys. These differences correspond to proportional differences in cones (wired to detect color and texture) and rods (wired to detect location, direction, and speed) in the eyes of boys and girls. As a result, girls are drawn to differences in color and texture and boys are fascinated by the rapid movement of the crayon across the paper. So how do you handle the difference? There are many ways. Christian wisdom is essential, but the answer is not boy and girls are the same, nor boys develop slower than girls. Your son is developing just as quickly as your daughter, just along a different trajectory. They are wired differently all the way down to the chemistry in their eyes. This is just a small example, but it points to a much more sophisticated understanding of the different developmental patterns in our children. The data still needs Christian truth to be situated and applied appropriately, but I have found it so helpful that I have made it a point to ask my wife, our children’s primary educator, to read it before she starts teaching again. I believe the information in this book will make her a better teacher.
I pray that you might be encouraged to give Gender Matters a read and that God would supply you with sufficient discernment to be undistracted by its shortcomings and to situate its strengths for the benefit of His kingdom and your children.”
— Jeff Shamess, wtsbooks.com staff
“Why is Westminster Bookstore promoting a book by an author who endorses Nietzsche, is open to homosexuality and trusts evolutionary theory? We believe that common grace enables the unbeliever to discern truths in our world and that the believer's responsibility is to faithfully examine and evaluate what is said.
Leonard Sax takes recent scientific studies on gender differences in the brain to challenge the reigning belief that "gender blind" or "gender-neutral" teaching is the best way to relate to boys and girls. He further asserts that gender blind teaching actually causes negative gender differences!
While Sax gives much to evolutionary theory and amoral sexual preferences, he remains pro-parent and is opposed to adolescent and teenage sexual activity. Why Gender Matters is not the first book to turn to for parenting advice, but it does provide supplemental information and insight that will prove helpful to critical readers.”
— D. A. Cason, wtsbooks.com staff