The next day, another trusted teacher and I sat down with the student and lovingly but firmly shared that we would absolutely not be using any other pronouns than those nature had warranted and God had ordained for them. I carefully reiterated much of what we had already discussed in Bible class about absolute truth, the need for clarity, and the need for consistency about what we say we believe and how we walk that out.
Here were my points:
- God is the Creator, Ruler, Giver, Father, and Judge of ALL.
- He has sole and divine authority over His creation.
- We are His creation, and He chose to make us male and female.
- He has not ceded to us greater authority or autonomy over ourselves.
- Our resting posture is one of deference and humility before Him, over and above all others.
- To use other pronouns would be deceptive and would be accepting deception into a relationship in place of authenticity and trust.
- To behave as though I believe the gender to have changed would be deceptive, as I do not actually believe the gender to have changed.
- To behave as though I believe the gender to have changed, though Scripture has spoken clearly in opposition to this ideology would be honoring man over God, and honoring the wishes of man over the authority of His Word.
- To behave as though I believe the gender to have changed, to accommodate feelings rather than truth or to avoid being disliked is a version of love less than what I have been called to as an ambassador of Christ.
- To behave as though I believe the gender to have changed is virtue signaling, not virtue. And it gives the impression that the Lord cannot discern the difference between the two or does not care.
- Discipleship is based on trust, trusting the Work of the Lord and trusting the witness of others. The Good News of the Gospel is far to precious to taint with a lack of credibility or consistency.
- To honor this area of sin rather than acknowledging and vanquishing it, would attempt to diminish God’s ability to rule and reign over every facet of our flesh and free us from every sin.
- To honor this area of sin would be idolatry, placing man’s needs, wants, abilities, and desires well above God, making man God.
- To honor this area of sin would fail to recognize that God’s Word alone has defined how we are to be in right relationships with others.
- To honor this area of sin would elevate norms of culture over eternal truths of Scripture.
- To honor this area of sin would diminish the transforming power of Christ.
- To honor this area of sin would lead others to believe that coerced compliance or perceived politeness is of greater consequence than salvation through Christ alone.
- To honor this area of sin would reject God’s Word alone as the source and definition on how we must love, respect, and treat others.
- To honor this area of sin would fail to recognize that God’s definitions of these things are better and better for man, even if man rejects them.
- I am incapable of truly loving my neighbor apart from obeying and honoring God first.
- I am incapable of truly loving my neighbor if I am unwilling to speak truth in love to them.
- I am incapable of truly loving my neighbor if I am unwilling to receive rejection in order to give a clear and consistent presentation of the Gospel.
- I am incapable of truly loving my neighbor if I am willing to present a Gospel where Jesus Christ is not the Way, the Truth, and the Life and room has been made for other ways and other truths.
These last ones were specific to this student and to the situation as student and teacher.
- Adults should be expected and trusted to speak truth to children for the good of the child.
- To fail to do so would be giving greater weight to whim and wish instead of encouraging a student to maturity and clarity.
I am so glad the Lord gave me a chance to consider my position on pronouns when it involved someone I knew personally and cared very much about. However, I would still refuse to use preferred pronouns if there was no prior relationship. And I could and would make the case from a secular and psychological standpoint just as easily.
As an objective behavior interventionist, this is all foolishness. It is entering into a false reality with another person instead of being a cord that tethers them to truth. It is binding ourselves to social demands of others that are both unnecessary and irrelevant in terms of actual communication.
“Do I swear to use your preferred pronouns?” When? In front of you? When you are not around? I’ll do you one better and give you my word that I will not speak of you at all when not in your presence. That’s the better thing anyway. But a false and coerced behavior modification is the thing we want most. We are so broken.
To force others to pretend to believe in a reality that you alone have dictated the terms of is not an authentic relationship, it is manipulative and domineering. These things are not the basis for any healthy relationship. Someone may desire a relationship that is based on pretense and dysfunction and that is their right, but I do not have to enter in. And I absolutely will not enter into such a charade carrying the name of Christ with me.
It would be a hopeless and helpless situation if I did not trust the Lord with my reputation, our relationship, and their very soul. But I do. And the best thing I can do for others is honor the Lord first.
My conversation with the student? There were tears. There was disappointment. And by 6th period it was though it had never happened. It was never discussed again, and we maintained a beautiful and healthy teaching relationship and discipleship until the year ended. What seemed like a “make or break” situation was more of a “just test the boundaries” situation.
Our insecurity has bred us to be people pleasers instead of Lord fearers and delighters. And pastors in pulpits led the charge.
We were still serving in a Southern Baptist Church when J.D. Greear gave his position on “generosity of spirit,” while he was the president of the Southern Baptist Convention. And what should have been an easy to discern inconsistency, was somehow seen as wiser and more benevolent…than fidelity to Scripture or clarity in the Body.
Pronouns ALWAYS MATTERED. This was never a small issue. We are dealing with principalities that routinely manipulate politics and politeness to their advantage, with a goal of keeping people in bondage.
Reducing such warfare down to a position of politeness is naive and self-serving. If you want to practice pronoun hospitality because it makes you feel better or feel like less of a jerk, that’s fine. But say that is the reason. Don’t pretend it is rooted in sounder doctrine or truer theology.
I was amazed and heartened in April when Rosaria Butterfield repented of her endorsement of “pronoun hospitality.” Praise the Lord. She is exactly right. And she was exactly wrong. I am truly so glad she corrected this and I have infinitely more respect for this woman. And I already had a great deal. I along with many others give incredible weight to the perspectives Butterfield, Yuan, and others because we truly desire to understand and love others well. Nonetheless, faithful people were blasted for their righteous positions and were targeted because the wiser and more gracious of the kingdom said there was a better way to love others and it required loving them as culture saw fit rather than how Christ saw fit.
We have to be more Berean. Generosity of Spirit. Pronoun hospitality. You can call it whatever first name you want, the Christian name for it is FLAWED. It is rejecting the authority of God’s Word under the guise of greater personal wisdom, maturity, and love. What arrogance. It is trying to be both neutral and faithful at the same time. I am willing to be corrected on this, but Butterfield’s response was entirely appropriate…repentance. But Greear’s? It wasn’t a poor word choice he was guilty of. It was a flawed belief.