Pronoun Puzzle

David Burchard Christian Ethics Leave a Comment

Sometimes I write about Christian ethics.

This is not because I am a cherub. My objective self-assessment is that I am the worst person I know.

I write on the topic for two primary reasons. 1. I am a Christian. 2. I have a desire to explain the Bible’s answers for life’s questions.

So here is a question that is quite contemporary, one that would have never been predicted in generations past.

Let’s say that you are a Christian college student in 2016. Your campus is highly liberal. One of the prominent cultural aspects of your campus is a denial of the Biblical truths on gender and sexuality. Students have moved along the Slide to Damnation, whooshing past plain Jane fornication to the loop the loop of gender identity confusion.

Campuses in 2016 are places where charts like these are not sources of humor but rather seriously “educational”:



At this point I desire to digress and mockingly walk through the above chart, because that is a quite pleasant prospect. But I shall not.

Where such charts are actually taken seriously, it has become increasingly common to find people insisting on unique gender pronouns when being addressed. Individuals have broken the bounds of the oppressive he/him/his and she/her/hers pronoun binary and frollicked into the wide vistas of ze/zir/zirs and the numerically puzzling they/them/their.

So, you are a Christian in such a lovely place. You have been reconciled to God and have been given by God the ministry of reconciliation. You know it is your job to evangelize heathens at your school. And you meet the president of the campus Queer Alliance. When you meet her, she informs you that her pronouns are they/them/their. She has a clear chip on her shoulder, and it is obvious that if you are going to have a conversation with her, let alone further conversations, she will require this pronoun usage. To refer to her as she/her/hers will be taken as violence against her.

So, Christian, what do you do? You’re inclined to comply, because you care about her, you want to speak her multiple times, and on the face of the matter it is a small issue.

To know what to do, we cannot simply “listen to our hearts” or “go with our guts” on this one. We have to turn to the Bible.

When we turn to the Bible, which is the plumb line that clearly defines virtue and righteousness, we must conclude the following: Christians must refer to men with male pronouns and women with female pronouns, if they speak a language that has such pronoun distinction. English, which you speak if you’re reading this, is one such language.

Let me show you how we come to this conclusion.

1. God determines who we are as sexual beings. He made us and owns us and therefore possesses that creative prerogative. We did not create ourselves, and so we do not have the prerogative to determine who we are as sexual beings.

Psalm 24:1-2 “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.”

2. God has made man as male or female. Every human fits into one or the other group. When God puts someone in that group upon conception, it is unchanging. When someone is a male, as is obvious, it is true that he is a male. When someone is a female, as is obvious, it is true that she is a female.

Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

3. Christians are required by God to speak the truth. And we are forbidden by God from speaking lies. This is a reflection of the very character of our God. And so if someone is a male, or is a female, no matter what he or she identifies as, God requires Christians to speak truly when they do speak of that person.

Numbers 23:19 “God is not man, that he should lie…”

Titus 1:2 “…God, who never lies…”

Hebrews 6:18 “…it is impossible for God to lie…”

Colossians 3:9 “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices…”

1 Timothy 1:9-11 “…understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.”

Revelation 21:8 “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

4. To call a she a ze or he is not only a lie, but functionally approves of her sexual perversion. Approving of the sin of others is also forbidden by God.

Romans 1:32 “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

And so we find ourselves back at the conclusion: Christians must refer to men with male pronouns and women with female pronouns, if they speak a language that has such pronoun distinction.

The protest at this point is quite understandable. “If I do as you say, the president of my campus Queer Alliance will never speak with me or want to spend time with me! And I desperately want her to be saved!”

Gosh, I hope this situation causes heartache. It should pain us when we find obstacles erected by unbelievers to the only way of salvation that could be theirs upon repentance and faith.

But heartache and pain change not the ethics, which are clear. And we cannot further our evangelistic efforts with sin. In Christianity, the ends do not justify the means. We are not pragmatists or relativists. We are Christians.

We are not clairvoyant, and so cannot know if our faithful steps will result in someone we love shutting us off from ever speaking with them. That may happen, but it may not. Let us proceed seeking to be obedient, trusting that God’s Word lights our steps. Let us be humble, knowing how truly wretched we ourselves are. Let us be prayerful, asking God to soften individuals caught up in this devilish sexual revolution. And let us seek to preach the gospel, even if God only gives us one conversation in which to do it.

Take heart Christian. Obedience is sweeter than sin. We know this when thinking clearly. And our labors in the Lord are not in vain.

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