When Steve wants to be called Sue
It had seemed a regular Monday morning before co-worker Steve arrived. Now his outfit had everyone buzzing: instead of his standard slacks/dress shirt combo, he'd paired black pumps with a floral print dress. In the morning staff meeting, the supervisor informed everyone that Steve was now "Sue" and we should start calling him her.
It's a scene playing out in offices across the West, and for Christians in these companies, it can seem like our choice is between compromising on God's Truth (Gen. 1:27) by going along with the transgender lie, or compromising on our winsomeness (Col. 4:5-6) by confronting the lie.
So what's a Christian to do?
I think a middle road of sorts can be charted, one that doesn't compromise on God's Truth, but which also shows a willingness to try to get along in as far as we are able. It involves using a person's chosen new name, while avoiding any use of pronouns for them. So, in the case of Steve/Sue, even as it is odd to call him by a girlish name, we all know names that have gone from being boys' names to girls' names and vice versa. It doesn't need to be our place to designate a name too girlish for a boy to have it. We can show our willingness to get along by agreeing to call our coworker by his new name of Sue.
But if that were all we were to do, that approach might lead to confusion about where God stands on the issue of gender. If we, as Christians, call transgender folk by names that align with their adopted, but not actual, gender, then we would be sowing the seeds of confusion if that was all we were to do. The reason we can go along with using "Sue" is because we're doing so as part of a package treatment: we'll explain that we will also be trying to avoid any mention of Sue's pronouns. It is one thing to call a man by what would be an odd first name for a man, but it is something else to call a him her.
Though it might not be perceived as such, we would explain that this is us doing our best to get along. Sue would see any use of male pronouns for him as offensive. We would understand it to be a denial of God's revealed truth about gender to use female pronouns for him. Therefore to minimize offense, and yet not lie, we will agree to speak of "Sue" and "Sue's presentation" and how "Sue did a good job." It'll be "Sue this" and "Sue that" but never she or her.
It would be good to make this clear at the start, rather than have it be discovered by coworkers wondering why we seem to be using Sue's name to excess. Getting ahead of it makes sure that our Christian witness is clear.
Will that satisfy our employers? Perhaps. But whether it does or does not, it shows our willingness to do what we can. In extending ourselves as far as we can go, we speak the Truth as winsomely as it is in our power to so speak it. This approach may or may not please Man, but it does glorify God.
1. Words have power
A strange form of encouragement for this approach can be found in the words of those we oppose.
In a recent position statement proposing "chestfeeding" as a possible alternative to "breastfeeding," the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) began by stating, "We affirm that language has power." They want to adopt "chestfeeding" to be sensitive to new mothers who don't identify as being women and who, therefore, might not like to be reminded of their breasts, as those are exclusively female body parts. Language has power, so the ABM's fix for a woman who doesn't want to be a woman is to stop reminding her that she is a woman.
Now, as people of the Book, and followers of the Word made Flesh, we agree that "language has power." Where we differ with the ABM is on how that power should be used.
God used words to speak the universe into being – His words define reality. Our words can either communicate or obscure that reality. So that's how the battle lines are drawn: between God's people, using language to clarify what God has done and who God is, and the Devil's forces using language to confuse and conceal. As Douglas Wilson has noted, all our cultural battles are really battles over the dictionary.
What we need to understand then is that using female pronouns for Sue is harnessing the power of language to confuse. Sue is deceiving himself, but in today's culture, he's going to get a lot of help from those around him to perpetuate his lie – everyone else at the office is going to echo and commend his lie.
In the face of that attack, not only on God's Truth but on Sue, we have a calling to use language's power for good and not evil, for clarity and not confusion.
2. Misgendering is hateful
For years already, Twitter has banned "misgendering" transgender people under their "hateful conduct policy." It was for misgendering that they suspended conservative commentators Allie Beth Stuckey and Erick Erickson for pointing out that New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, competing on the women's side, was, in fact, a man.
What is misgendering? The online Cambridge Dictionary defines it (as of Aug 24, 2021) as:
misgender: to use the wrong pronouns or other gender-specific words when referring to or speaking to someone, especially a transgender person.
That's a definition we can get behind, and under this definition, we could also agree with Twitter that misgendering is hateful conduct. Deliberately perpetuating a lie about someone is not loving. Where we'd differ with both Twitter and Cambridge is on what pronouns are the "wrong" ones.
Some on the Left have gone as far as to call misgendering violence. We can agree on that point too. Real physical harm is done when confused individuals are so encouraged in their delusions that they seek out surgeons to cut off or mangle what were previously healthy body parts. We're talking breasts and testicles being cut off, and penises being turned inside out. Others will seek drug treatments to prevent puberty, which will also render them infertile. Calling someone by the wrong pronouns can contribute to this real physical harm.
Of course, the misgendering I'm talking about is the very opposite of what the world means by the term. But they are right that using the wrong pronouns can indeed be harmful and therefore hateful.
When we're talking about the harm these surgeries can cause, the counterpoint sometimes offered is that transgender folk may commit suicide if they aren't embraced as the other sex. While Christians should have sympathy for just how lost these people are, we also need to be firm that encouraging them in their rebellion against God's Truth is never going to be the loving response. Yes, God loves sinners, but He also tells us to turn away from our sin. So we should not affirm the transsexual, or homosexual, adulterer, alcoholic, glutton, sluggard, idolater, etc., in their sin.
Gratitude for the troubles/opportunities that are coming
Many of us are too quiet about God, so even as stressful as Steve's new wardrobe is going to make our lives, we should also recognize it for the peculiar blessing that it is. Do we find it hard to go out and evangelize? Well, God is bringing an evangelism opportunity right to our cubicle door! He is so arranging things in offices across the West, that His people will be given a clear choice of either publicly defending His Truth or denying Him entirely.
That's not a gift many of us are asking for, but it is quite the blessing to be presented with such a clear choice.
Preparing for what comes next
So let's go to the next step. What if we call our coworker "Sue" but not "her" and that turns out not to be enough for our boss? What if our stand gets us fired?
That's an eventuality Christians should be getting prepared for, individually and as church communities. Many of our readers have parents and grandparents who refused on principle to join unions. Unions back then were demanding loyalty oaths that Christians would have difficulty making, and most had a decidedly Marxist (adversarial) approach to working with management that conflicted with the 5th Commandment. There were other reasons our grandparents opposed unions, some specific to that time and others that are just as relevant today, but for our discussion what's important is what our grandparents did next. Since they couldn't work union jobs, they began creating their own jobs by starting their own businesses. When they were successful, these entrepreneurs ended up also creating employment opportunities for other brothers and sisters looking for non-union work.
That entrepreneurial spirit, a generation ago, has been greatly blessed by God such that we still see the fruit today. Our schools, churches, and missionary efforts have all been aided by these businesses, whether through the owners' contributions, or the employees'.
It's time for Christians to once again embrace that entrepreneurial spirit. It begins with recognizing the need, that there is a time coming very soon that any Christian not willing to lie about gender, and not willing to perpetuate this lie against transgender individuals, is going to be fired for their stand. That's both a shame and an opportunity. If God's people are stuck in companies that hate God and promote homosexuality, transgenderism, abortion, feminism, and more, how freeing it will be, and how much louder we will be, when we're cut loose from these companies!
So when that day comes and we see our own coworker Steve come sashaying in, with his black pumps and floral print, let's remember how faithful God has been to us in the past and ready ourselves to take whatever opportunities He presents to uphold His Truth and glorify His Name. Let’s thank Him for backing us into a corner, and making the way forward so very clear. And let’s ask God to so bless our entrepreneurial efforts that future generations will still be harvesting the fruit.
"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" – Isaiah 5:20
Adult non-fiction, Book Reviews, Gender roles
Men and Women in the Church: A Short, Biblical, Practical Introduction
Gender roles, Theology
Who’s Afraid of Proverbs 31?
I can still see the cartoon in my memory – she was robed in white, her nose in the air, gracing a marble pedestal under which lesser women cowered. ...
Gender roles, Marriage
Men and the Marriage Dance
Maybe I have been looking in all the wrong places, but in my ten years of being a Christian, I seem to have heard an awful lot more on the subject of ...
Christian education - Sports, Gender roles
Daughters in sports
Women and men are different, so they should play differently **** I promised in a previous column that I would address the touchy subject of daughters playing in sports, and so I guess I can't get out of it now. It is all fine and good for sons to be subjected to the discipline and competition of sports, but what about our daughters? Is it healthy for them to be competing? Here is my decided take on it: it all depends. We are not raising our daughters to be "fighters" the same way we are with our sons. At the same time, self-discipline and godly determination are great qualities for women to have. Daughters can learn a lot from sports. They can benefit from learning to push themselves, to work hard, and to be part of a team. Besides, physical activity has benefits for everyone. Women can enjoy the thrill of the race or the game like anyone else. Still, we have to look at sports for our daughters a little differently than we do for our sons. Women shouldn't be men, and vice versa The goal we have in mind in raising sons is to inculcate masculinity. And we want our daughters to embrace a godly femininity, not a worldly feminism. So when parents consider sports for their daughters, they ought to be thinking about whether her participation will help develop or hinder her. Some sports are so completely masculine that young women shouldn't even think about participating. These certainly include football, boxing, baseball, and hockey. And it is just plain pitiful to see a woman force herself onto a male team just to cause a stink and force the boys to play with her. This is just a sad attempt for attention. Once when my son played football for a government high school (while he attended a local Christian school), the other team had a girl suited up and standing on the sidelines. My husband told my son, "If she gets out on the field, don't go near her, and don't tackle her. Just stand out of her way." Tackling is no way to treat a lady, even if she is refusing to act like one. But the next important thing to consider is what kind of program is available. For example, volleyball can be a great sport for girls. But if the program is bent on treating the girls like they are boys, and they are encouraging the girls to act like boys, then I wouldn’t want my daughters participating. But if the coaches are teaching girls to play well and to play like ladies, it can be a great experience. The same is true of basketball, softball, soccer, or track. If the girls are trying to act tough and masculine, it is deadly. But if they are enjoying the game and learning to work as a team, this can be working with the grain, teaching them to be feminine and beautiful as they handle the ball or hit it over the net. When our daughter played basketball for her Christian school, the team all wore blue ribbons in their hair as a feminine statement that they were not trying to act or look or play like boys. And they were good. They didn’t trash talk or play dirty. They were taught to play like Christian women. Positive character traits So if the sport itself is not masculine in nature, and if the program is deliberately striving to promote feminine virtue, then it can be a great blessing to young girls. But there are still pitfalls. Boys need to get hit and learn to take it, but girls need security and love. When insecure girls play sports, they are more susceptible to the temptations to try to become masculine. They may be looking for attention and affirmation from the sport when they really need it from their dads and their moms. They may “feel” unfeminine, so they gravitate to sports where they don’t have to be feminine. This means that wise parents will closely monitor their daughters while they participate in sports. And if they begin to show signs of becoming “macho” or unfeminine, they should consider pulling them out. I have seen the discipline of sports teach girls to be better stewards of their time, thus causing their studies to improve. Some exposure to sports can give our daughters confidence and make them “well-rounded” in their education. My daughter especially recommends volleyball for Christian girls because it is a team sport that can include lots of people, of all ages, and is a great activity for church picnics. And team sports are revealing when it comes to testing a daughter’s character. She has to think fast, look out for others, follow directions, and develop skill. This is all good, and none of this is contrary to a biblical femininity. Uniforms Of course I have to say something about uniforms and modesty. Christians ought to insist on dressing modestly. That means we shouldn’t be wearing tank tops with huge armholes and sports bras underneath. Neither should they be wearing what are called butt-huggers. It doesn’t matter if the other team is wearing skimpy outfits. Christians ought to refuse to participate in a sport where they will have to compromise in this area. A girls’ team can be dressed appropriately and modestly, even if it is no longer “cool” to do so. And this doesn’t mean wearing knee-length culottes, (or any length culottes for that matter). Volleyball and track teams are now wearing virtual swimsuits as uniforms, and it just isn’t necessary. You can’t tell me that they really can play better or run faster in less clothing. It’s about making the slower women’s sports more interesting to watch. Male volleyball players don’t seem too hampered by actual shorts. Sports are not evil in themselves. But bad coaches can make for a miserable experience. If your daughter is in a sport, know the coaches, be at the games, and know how your daughter is doing. She certainly shouldn’t be forced into playing a sport if she isn’t inclined to do so. But if she wants to play, parents ought not hinder her for the wrong reasons. Questions for discussion There is one line in this article that upset many readers: "When our daughter played basketball for her Christian school, the team all wore blue ribbons in their hair as a feminine statement that they were not trying to act or look or play like boys." It struck some as demeaning, elevating how a girl looks (how pretty!) over how a girl performs. But is that the author's point? If the girls themselves had made this decision, would it still be demeaning? Or courageous? Why? Our worth comes from being made in God's Image (Gen. 1:26-28, Gen. 9:6). The world rejects Him, and instead grounds our worth on our abilities. That's why abortion and euthanasia are permissible because the lives of the less able unborn and elderly are deemed as being less valuable. This "abilities-based worth" is also why the world pushes women into understandably male-dominated roles like soldiers or firefighters. They pretend women can do these jobs just as well as men, because to acknowledge otherwise would be to say that women weren't as valuable as men – this godless understanding of our value pushes women to seek their value by acting like men. In the sports world that has led to girls trying out for high school football teams, and it's now controversial to object. When we recognize that men and women get their worth, not from what we can do, but from Whose Image we reflect, should it still be controversial to say there are sports that women shouldn’t play that men can play? Do you agree with the author's list of football, boxing, baseball, and hockey? What ones do you disagree with and agree with? Why? What are differences between "godly femininity" and the world's feminism? The author gives several examples of how women can be feminine in sports. If you don't like these examples, can you think of other ways girls can be feminine while playing sports? What is the author’s main point? Do you agree? The world says that men and women are not different, and certainly haven't been called to different roles. Meanwhile, God's people know that He has not only given men and women different roles but also made them different in some notable ways. But are the genders' differences something that has implications for the sports field? Do any of our Christian school sport programs encourage girls to act masculine? If so, how so, and what could be changed? Reprinted with permission from Credenda/Agenda, Volume 16/1 published by Canon Press (www.canonpress.com)....
Gender roles, Theology
No, complementarianism is not inherently misogynistic
Complementarianism is the belief that God made male and female different and gave them different but complementary roles in the Church and in marriage. It is also understood as the opposite of egalitarianism, which, aside from acknowledging the obvious reproductive differences, holds that God hasn’t given men and women different roles in the Church or in marriage. Egalitarians will sometimes accuse the complementarian position of being inherently misogynistic. They say, if men are told they are to lead in their marriages and in Church as well, that will puff them up, and get them thinking women are inferior, and then men will feel free to lord it over and even abuse women. Dr. Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. is shown presenting this argument in the recent By What Standard? documentary where he puts it this way: “This whole sexual abuse scandal thing is a judgment of God on Southern Baptists, because once you devalue a woman to say she cannot preach on the Lord’s Day…you are telling men it is okay to abuse her, like has been documented.” I was struck by the irony of this accusation coming from a pastor. Wouldn’t this same line of reasoning argue against leadership of any kind? If you put a pastor up on a pulpit and tell him he can preach but his parishioners do not have that same calling, then won’t that get him devaluing his parishioners such that the pastor will feel free to lord it over, and even spiritually abuse, them? It only follows, right? Our example of leadership Or might there be a way for someone called to a leadership role to be able to lead without abusing followers? In her Dec. 10 Christianity Today article, "What if I'm not the 'submissive' type?" Rebecca McLaughlin shows how the male leadership God’s prescribes is the very opposite of misogyny. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). How did Christ love the church? By dying on a cross; by giving himself, naked and bleeding, to suffer for her; by putting her needs above his own; by sacrificing everything for her. I asked myself how I would feel if this were the command to wives. Ephesians 5:22 is sometimes critiqued as a mandate for spousal abuse. Tragically, it has been misused that way. But the command to husbands makes that reading impossible. How much more easily could an abuser twist a verse calling his wife to suffer for him, to give herself up for him, to die for him? Our example of submission Just as complementarian leadership is nothing like how egalitarians portray it, so too complementarian submission isn’t what it has been made out to be. On the January 2nd episode of the What Have You podcast, Rachel Jankovic addressed submission, and while she did so in the context of feminism, her point is equally applicable to egalitarianism. Jankovic said: “The central heresy of feminism is to believe that submission equal inferiority. We believe that Jesus submitted his will to the Father’s without becoming less than God. it is actually really important that we believe obedience and submission do not mean inferiority.” The leadership husbands and elders are called to is not the dominating, power-corrupts "leadership" of the world, but the dying-for-his-bride servant-leadership of Christ (Luke 22:25–26). And the submission that wives are called to does not make them any less the Image of God than their husbands (Gen. 1:27). Just as Jesus’s submission to his Father's didn’t diminish Him, so too our own submission – whether as a wife to her husband (Eph 5:22) or a congregation to our spiritual leaders (Heb. 13:17) – isn't about inferiority. It is, instead, an opportunity to imitate Christ! Whether men or women, pastors or parishioners, we are all called to submit to the will of our Father. So why would any Christians think submission is inherently bad?...
Gender roles, Humor
#chairchallenge highlights male/female divide
We live in a curious age in which the self-evident isn’t. So if you have a friend muddled about whether men and women are different, here’s some help. It’s the #chairchallenge already making its way around the Internet, and while women can do it, men can’t. What’s involved? One easy-to-lift chair, one wall, plus at least one male and one female participant, both ideally wearing shoes. Stand facing the wall, toes touching it, and then move back two footsteps (not paces – just the length of your own feet). You should now be standing two full foot lengths away from the wall. Place a chair under you touching the wall (or have someone else do it). Bend forward over the chair at a roughly 90-degree angle and lean the top of your head against the wall. Grab the chair by its seat and raise it to your chest. Then, stand up! That’s all there is to it! We tested this out at our house, and I found while I could almost, sort of, kind of do it in my socks, there was no way once I had shoes on, as that brought me just a smidgeon further away from the wall. Meanwhile, my wife did it with ease. So why the consistent results? A number of possible explanations have been offered: Men generally have larger feet, putting them further from the wall. Women generally have a lower relative center meaning more of their weight is over their feet making it easier to move off the wall. Women are generally more flexible than men, making it easier for them to shift the center of mass. Whatever the reason, a sharp male/female divide is evident and that makes this not only a funny experiment to try, but also an important one. God says we are created male and female (Genesis 2:17) and for different roles (Ephesians 5:22-33). Our rebellious world dares insist the opposite: infinite genders, no notable differences between them. Now we’ve got an experiment that makes the self-evident obvious again. ...
Christian education - Sports, Gender roles
Boys and sports
Why moms should want their sons breaking tackles and snagging rebounds **** Yes, you read the header right. I really am writing a column about why sons should be in sports. And, yes, this is a column for wives and mothers, not for husbands and dads. I feel qualified to address this subject because I put in hundreds (I'm not exaggerating) of hours in the bleachers. Soccer, t-ball, baseball, lacrosse, basketball, track, football (did I forget anything?) – we did them all. And I may as well mention it here: invest in one of those little cushy seats to take with you to all the games. Bleachers are very uncomfortable. I am one of those moms who is a strong proponent of boys in sports. Call me a cheerleader if you will (though I never had the pom-poms). I will tell you why: it is good for them. Sports can teach boys important things that Mom cannot teach them. And moms can learn a thing or two about their sons by having them involved in sports. But some moms are jumpy about their sons being in sports. It doesn't seem very spiritual for them to be tackling someone, or stealing a ball or a base, or hitting an opponent (or being hit) with a lacrosse stick. In fact, it doesn't sound very spiritual to have an opponent! Well, let's think about these things like grownups. I'm going to give you three (or four) good reasons for boys (your sons in fact) to be involved in sports. I'm sure there are many more reasons, but this is a short column, and I will lay out my own motherly thoughts on the subject. Learning to take a hit First of all, the way I see it, boys need to learn how to take a hit. Christian men need to be fighters. After all, in Christendom there is a battle going on. For starters, they need to be tough, not whiners, moaners, wimps, or shirkers. In sports they learn to take a hit. And I learned how to take a hit from my vantage point in the bleachers when my son took a hit. (Third and thirty-five against the defending state champions. Screen pass. He met three defenders at the marker. Went on top, through the crowd cable, into and then under the bleachers.) We do not want the church populated with men who cry when they fall down. If they are pushed around on the basketball court, they will learn how to "suck it up" and "blow it out," as my son-in-law says. When they look at the gigantic size of the other team and see how completely understaffed they are, they will find courage to overcome. Men need to be protectors and fighters. Sports are a good way to introduce them to the idea. It is not a real war, but it is good training for the real ones. Pushed to their limits Secondly, competing in sports requires discipline, and discipline is good. Boys need to run and run and run until they don't think they can run any more, and then they need to run some more. This is why it is such a blessing to have a coach who thinks boys need to do this. If a coach allows them to take a little breather if their side hurts, they won't do so well in the world of real fighting. A good and godly coach is a huge blessing. Moms don't make good coaches because they want to have cookie-and milk breaks, and they want to call the boys inside when it starts to rain. (We make far better cheerleaders and far better cookies.) My son had to get up early to make it to six a.m. basketball practice every morning in the dead of winter when it was cold and very dark. He was tired when he went to bed at night. He had two-a-days in football in the heat of August, and he slept very well. He had to learn to do what his coach told him to do, no matter what he thought of it. This is a good lesson for a son to learn. Sports teach sons the discipline of obeying authority and pushing their bodies to do what they are told even when those bodies are tired. Revealing the inner man But sports do more than this. They also teach your sons how to work with a team, how to submit to authority, how to encourage the slow guy, how to hit hard. And they teach patience. Time on the bench can be sanctifying too. This can teach humility and endurance, just so long as the time on the bench is not for poor conduct. But that can be a lesson also. I love a coach who will not stand for any slackness. I love a coach who calls a player to the bench who is not doing what he is told. I love a coach who will not let a kid play who was late for practice or who was show-boating on the court. That is a great coach. Sports are also very revealing. You see how your son is doing spiritually. And you see how you are doing spiritually. Is he throwing a tantrum when he doesn't get to play? Are you? Is he a crummy loser? Are you? Is he crying when he falls down? Are you? Is he kicking the ball in anger when he misses a shot? Is he passing the ball on the court or is he trying to get all the points himself? Is he playing dirty or giving the ref a bad time? Sports can show you all too plainly where your son's weak points really are, in front of you and everybody. Finally, sports can give your son something to be proud of and something for you to be proud of as well. That's right. There can be a godly satisfaction and delight in catching the fly ball, in passing the scoring touchdown, in running a really good race. This is the way God made us. Created different And one last thing. Moms, don't treat your sons like they are daughters. I am with you when you say you don't want your girls playing football. But a son is a totally different animal. Overprotective mothers can end up destroying their sons. We want our sons to be tough and strong, able to handle heavy weather without being snapped in two. If we keep them in the temperature-regulated greenhouse of home, they will not grow up to be like "saplings grown up in their youth" (Psalm 144). This article is reprinted with permission from Credenda Agenda Volume 15/4. Credenda/Agenda is published by Canon Press (www.canonpress.com). Picture credit: Aspen Photo / Shutterstock.com ______________________ Questions for discussion Would non-Christians object to this article? Why might they? Should we care? Do some of the author's points apply equally well to why our daughters should play sports? Which do and which do not? The author describes a particular sort of coach. Would this be a good type of coach for girls too? Why or why not? What is the author’s main point? Do you agree? God has given men and women different roles, but are the genders' different roles something that has implications for the sports field? Do our schools use sports to encourage boys to be fighters? Lots of people fight, but what is a Christian fighter? ...