Imagine you are a youth soccer coach, and a girl you have coached for five seasons takes you aside at practice and asks you, “Coach: I’m going through some changes in my life, and one of them is that I’ve decided I want to be known as a guy. Can you please address me by he/him, instead of her/she?”
What would you say?
This scenario is becoming more and more common. Last year I wrote about a teacher in the area who was fired by his school for asking the school board to not compel him to use “preferred pronouns” for students. He said, “I love my students too much to lie to them.” That cost him his job.
What would you do?
Here are some principles I’d want to communicate to the person:
1). “I love you and care for you.” The transgender movement teaches people—and in particular kids—that anyone who does not affirm their preferred gender is acting out of hate to them. It is important to bracket your response to the person by refuting that head-on. Any response has to be framed in love (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 19:19; Mark 12:31; Romans 13:9).
2). “I love you the way God made you.” The heart of the transgender movement is an attempt to sever gender from sex. This is not an issue the Bible is silent about. The Bible uses the expression “male and female” over fifty times, often to drive home the point that God makes people male and female. For example: “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created” (Genesis 5:1-12). Or: “From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). In fact, many of those fifty references to “male and female” go on to connect the distinctions of the sexes to the biological ability to procreate (including Mark 10:7).
The point is, God makes us male and female. Biology is not a Choose Your Own Adventure.
Thus, for me to affirm my love to you, I have to affirm my love for you the way God made you.
3). “I also love God, who does not make mistakes.” Part of being a Christian is loving God, and part of loving God is affirming his perfections. God does not make mistakes (Deuteronomy 32:4) I’ve heard “transgender” people say that because they have transgender thoughts, God must have allowed those thoughts, thus God approves of them changing their gender. The truth is much simpler: God allows sin in the world so that he can conquer it through dying for sinners, defeat it by rising from the grave, and forgive it through our faith in the gospel. Sin is most definitely in the world. But the existence of thoughts about stealing does not mean God approves of stealing, and the existence of thoughts about gender does not imply that God approves of transgenderism.
Sometimes people want to be a different sex, or they feel like they are a different sex, but part of loving God is recognizing the reality that he made us male and female, and he did not make a mistake. We have doubts and sinful thoughts at times. But the existence of sinful thoughts does not mean that God made those thoughts, or that he approves of them. Rather, the existence of sin points us back to the gospel (Romans 7:11-14).
If the heart of transgenderism is the idea that a person’s gender is distinct from their sex, then my love for God precludes me from addressing a person with pronouns that express the view that God made a mistake.
4). “I love you enough to tell you that the God who does not make mistakes made you, and loves you.” It seems that the transgender movement is growing, preying upon adolescents who don’t like their bodies, and despise how God made them. Transgender advocates often speak of how common self-harm is in the transgender movement, and that is not surprising. It is a movement that teaches people that to love themselves, they have to hate themselves. It is a no-win situation. It is like being stuck in a bad dream.
Fortunately, people do wake up. My prayer is that the person I’m talking to would wake up. No amount of preferred pronouns will actually change their sex. Sometime people will then go to war against their bodies, but more common is that the person wakes up one day, and gives up the fight. Living as a boy won’t make a girl happy, and living as a girl won’t make a boy happy.
My biggest hope is that the person wakes up, she will learn to embrace herself as God made her.
But my biggest fear is that at that moment, when they wake up, they will only see around them adults who knew better, but who played along with this ideology that fueled self-hate and atheism. I want the person to whom I’m talking to realize: it was the Christians in your life who loved you enough to tell you that there is a truth you can’t define or alter. There is a truth maker outside of us. The truth is that we were made by God, and that God loves you, and wants a relationship with you through Christ.