If a transgender person asks you to use a pronoun or name in line with his or her preferred gender, what do you do? It’s no longer a suppositious question.
In “Romeo and Juliet,” we remember Shakespeare asking, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” A rose is still a rose no matter what we call it. But what’s in a pronoun? Specifically, if a neighbor who identifies as transgender asks us to use ze rather than he or she, does it really matter? What should we do to respect the attribute and the gospel?
It’s a gummy issue for Christians, and it’s apropos stickier by the day. That’s because I’m blissful to tell you about a very useful perspective, an essay by Andrew Walker entitled, “He, She, Ze, Zir? Navigating pronouns while amatory your transgender neighbor.” Walker, who wrote the good book “God and the Transgender Debate,” is Director of Policy Studies at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
In the article, Walker exhibits the law and beauty so required for believers to navigate these choppy waters in the homes, at work, and in church. Regarding the truth, he forthrightly points out, “Pronouns are not an considerate issue. … The doubt we as Christians have to consider is either the reality we are being asked to attest is design and corresponds to biblical truth, or either the reality we are being asked to acknowledge is biased and false. Nothing reduction than the law and management of God’s explanation over combined reality is up for grabs in something as clearly trusting as pronoun usage.”
Andrew adds, “Because, at root, the transgender discuss is a psychic discuss about whose chronicle of reality we live in, and only one account—Jesus Christ’s—can lead us into law about reality and human flourishing.”
The Bible reminds us, as well, to pronounce the law in love—that is, with grace. While God’s Word unquestionably says that we’re combined male and female, it also creates transparent that any of us has been finished in God’s picture and therefore deserves to be treated with grace and compassion. So while Andrew never backs down from the charge to conform God’s Word as we see it and follow the consciences, he counsels saintly knowledge in how we respond to people, depending on things like the social context and the abyss of the relationship.
Surprisingly, Andrew first counsels avoiding the pronoun quandary whenever possible. Rarely do we have to use the third person when speaking to someone. Second, generally, we can use the person’s elite first name, given names are gendered culturally. Third, don’t lie! “Those with essay or speaking platforms,” Andrew writes, “have an requirement to pronounce and write truthfully and not obeisance to domestic exactness or forgive falsehood. … we will call Bruce Jenner ‘he,’ or if we do contend ‘Caitlyn,’ we will still say, ‘him.’”
Then Andrew covers what he calls some “tricky situations.” When it comes to a close family member who is transgender, Andrew says he would not respect the pronoun or first name request. “I know this person intimately,” Andrew explains, “and in all odds we possess the relational collateral to know this person’s story and pronounce truthfully.”
He acknowledges this decision may be deemed descent even when finished kindly, but infrequently this is unavoidable.
Same thing with the workplace. If you know the other person well, you should tell him or her the truth. Andrew acknowledges this competence meant you will run afoul of company HR policies. “None of this is easy,” he acknowledges, “but Jesus never betrothed that following him would be but good personal cost.” Indeed not.
I’d tell you what he says about church encounters, but it’s nuanced, and we’re almost out of time. Just come to BreakPoint.org and we’ll couple you to the article. Because, while it may not matter what you call a rose, it matters very much what you call a associate human being.
What’s in a (Transgender) Pronoun? Speaking Truth in Love
For some-more on this very controversial topic, review Andrew Walker’s book, “God and the Transgender Debate.” It’s accessible at the online bookstore.