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How Should Christians Respond to the Issue of Preferred Pronouns?

By Guest Writer, Danielle M. Antonetti

Christians are called to be in the world, yet not “of the world.” ( John 17:14–19). This means Jesus wants believers to engage with culture but not allow the culture to cause us to compromise our convictions. All too often, the well-intentioned Christian makes small compromises thinking it’s of little harm. Yet, compromises to the truth can distort love. This brings us to the topic of how Christians should respond to today’s cultural issue of preferred pronouns.

Truth

There seems to be little consensus where there was once clarity on what constituted male and female, boy and girl, man and woman, he and she. This is evidenced in the growing number of people who identify as transgender (those who experience gender dysphoria, a condition that describes the “psychological distress that results from an incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth[1] and one’s gender identity”[2]) or those who identify themselves using other nontraditional gender terms[3]. As such, it is becoming somewhat common for people to state or list their preferred pronouns in conversation, on social media, before meetings, or in email signatures. For example, during the 2020 election season, several Democratic presidential candidates put their preferred pronouns on their social media profiles.[4]

In contrast, the Christian worldview asserts that God created people to be either male or female. Genesis 1:27 reads, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” God did not intend for sex and gender (identity) to be separate from one another; they are synonymous. To adopt a different worldview on sex and gender would be to reject the truth. Nevertheless, the culture today is attempting (with some success, unfortunately) to convince Christians differently. 

Love

“Love is love.” You see this saying flying around many rainbow flags these days. Closer examination of what this statement means reveals that this love is self-defining—love means and does what it wants depending on the person defining the term. A 2016 article from Bustle relates what “love is love” means to eight LGBTQ advocates; in short, for each person interviewed the statement translates to one of the following: holding hands (not hiding one’s romantic love for a same-sex partner), sticking together no matter what, being a powerful force, believing in yourself, feeling connected with other people, not sexually shaming others, and celebrating differences.[5] 

Christians recognize that as the creator of all things “God is love.”[6] The Christian worldview sees that it is God who defines love, first led by His example: “We love because he first loved us.”[7] In addition, John 13:1-17 recounts when Jesus washes the feet of His disciples, a task at the time reserved for the lowliest of servants. The act, however, teaches us that “blessed are you if you act accordingly” (v. 17). God does not wish to condemn humanity but to love and see them come to repentance. The Ninevites deserved condemnation, but God called Jonah to go to them and proclaim God’s Word. “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.”[8] God’s love precedes repentance, and it is an occasion He celebrates in heaven: “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”[9] 

Nevertheless, many people, regardless of their worldview, construe God’s love, and love more generally, to be an endorsement of all behavior and choices. This distorts His Word. For example, for those unwilling to repent, “Love [read: God] is patient [read: tolerant], love is kind [read: really tolerant].”[10] In other words, people do not need to turn away from sin to receive the greatest gift of His love, salvation. This understanding of love is not of God. The verses that follow in this passage highlights God’s disdain of sin, just as he loathes lying: “It (love) does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love [synonymous with God] does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”[11] 

Truth and Love

One of my favorite YouTube personalities is Blaire White, a transgender woman, i.e., a man. Blaire wants to pass as a woman and has made efforts to transition socially and physically. If you didn’t know, you probably wouldn’t bat an eye. People who are transgender, like Blaire, experience gender dysphoria, a legitimate mental health condition. The nature of the condition introduces a social snag for Christians that seems to pit their biblical understanding of sex and gender (truth) against God’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself.”[12] The truth is that Blaire’s pronouns are he/him/his, but should Christians use she/her/hers? 

Preston Sprinkle’s Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender promotes “pronoun hospitality,” a term that describes “a willingness to accommodate the pronouns of our transgender neighbors regardless of our own views about the Christian ethics of gender identity.”[13] The Center has endorsements from Francis Chan, Matt Chandler, Karen Swallow Prior, Gabe Lyons, and Laurie Krieg.

In contrast, Article XI of the Nashville Statement, published online on August 29, 2017, affirms “our duty to speak the truth in love at all times, including when we speak to or about one another as male or female” and denies “any obligation to speak in such ways that dishonor God’s design of His image-bearers as male and female.”[14] Initial signatories to this statement are a number of well-known and well-regarded figures, including Wayne Grudem, R. C. Sproul, K. Erik Thoennes, J. P. Moreland, and Albert Mohler.

The latter approach highlights truth in—not over—love, stating that it is loving to assert the Christian worldview on sex and gender as it pertains to language; whereas, the former emphasizes the command to love by using a person’s preferred pronouns as a courtesy and sign of respect. This article does not assert that one approach is more appropriate or correct or biblical than the other. 

In fact, whether Christians should use preferred pronouns of people who are transgender is less important than recognizing that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” People who are transgender (or are suffering from gender dysphoria) are dealing with sin.[15] James 1:14-15 says, “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” 

A takeaway from the Fall is that people cannot determine what is good and evil without knowing God and what He calls good and evil. God declares His sixth-day creations, whom He created “male and female,” good (truth). He calls His people to repentance because He loves them. 

Christians, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:14a, “are the light of the world.” The Bible equips all who open its pages to be that light. At all times, Christians should proclaim the transformative power of the gospel (Mark 16:15), pray for God’s wisdom and understanding in all things (Colossians 1:9), keep His commands (Deuteronomy), and love all people as they would themselves (Galatians 5:14). If Christians allow that light to “shine before others,” they will perform good deeds that point sinners (in this case, those with gender confusion) to God’s saving sacrifice—Jesus—which will glorify the Father in heaven.


[1] Debra Soh, The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths about Sex and Identity in Our Society. New York: Threshold Editions, 2020. Kindle. Dr. Soh objects to the phrase “sex assigned at birth,” writing that “it needlessly gives the impression that sex is not an objective attribute” (30).

[2] “What Is Gender Dysphoria?” American Psychiatric Association online, November 2020, https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/gender-dysphoria/what-is-gender-dysphoria.

[3]  Associated Press, “More U.S. Teens Identify as Transgender, Reject Girl and Boy as Only Options,” NBC News online, February 5, 2018, https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/more-u-s-teens-identify-transgender-reject-girl-boy-only-n844681.

[4] Lily Wakefield, “Half of the US Democratic Candidates in the Fourth Debate List Their Pronouns on Twitter,” Pink News, October 20, 2019, https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2019/10/20/democratic-candidates-us-list-international-pronouns-day-twitter-elizabeth-warren-julian-castro/.

[5] Wendy Lu, “8 LGBTQ Advocates Share What ‘Love Is Love’ Means,” Bustle.com, December 7, 2016, https://www.bustle.com/p/8-lgbtq-activists-share-what-love-is-love-means-to-them-in-donald-trumps-america-7278041.

[6] 1 John 4:16b (NIV).

[7] 1 John 4:19 (NIV).

[8]  Jonah 3:10 (NKJV).

[9] Luke 15:10 (NIV).

[10] 1 Corinthians 13:4a (NIV).

[11] 1 Corinthians 13:4b-6 (NIV).

[12] Galatians 5:14 (NIV).

[13] Gregory Coles, “What Pronouns Should Christians Use for Transgender People?” Boise, ID: Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender, 10, https://centerforfaith.com/sites/default/files/cfsg_pastoral_papers_11.pdf.

[14] “Nashville Statement,” Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, accessed February 14, 2021, https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement.

[15] All people, whether believers or not, deal with sin; LGBT behavior does not have a monopoly on sin.

Disclaimer: All views expressed by those associated with this ministry or on our platforms do not necessarily represent the opinions of Women in Apologetics, Inc. or its individual team members.

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