At my place of employment, I was recently taken aside and told that I needed to address a man in our shop that is currently “transitioning” into a “woman”, by the “proper pronouns”. I believe if you were born a man, you are a man, no matter what you have cut off or added.
The question is, is there a Biblical reason I should not use their chosen pronouns? I don’t believe I should, but also am not sure how to back it up with Scripture. Thank you for your time, and I enjoy your responses.
The workplace for many has rapidly become a hornet’s nest where having the “wrong” ideas is punished. What constitutes “wrong” ideas is proliferating at a tremendous rate and we have no doubt that productivity, pleasant relationships and profit will all fall prey to this frenzy of political correctness.
We are not fans of “Scriptural proof” because, as we have often noted, picking isolated phrases or verses from the Bible allows one to support the insupportable and oppose what is right. However, we can speak in terms of what we understand to be a “Biblical worldview.”
Treating others with respect based on the fact that they too are created in the image of God, is a fundamental of faith. Opposing ideas that diminish God’s presence in the world is also fundamental. Figuring out how to reconcile those two, sometimes conflicting ideas, is a great, personal challenge.
There is every likelihood that refusing to comply with your supervisor’s directive will cost you your job or at a minimum block you from advancement. You may even be targeted for a lawsuit.
From a Biblical perspective, there are only three prohibitions for which you have to lose your life rather than violate. There are also very few prohibitions over which you need to lose your livelihood. This isn’t one of them.
We could argue that calling people by their preferred name, pronoun, title etc. is common courtesy. If a boss demands to be addressed as “General” though he has never been in the military, we would consider it a quirk, but probably go along with that. In this vein, you could internally be distressed at this co-worker’s confusion (and appalled at the medical establishment’s collaboration), but go along with it as far as using the new name.
However, we do understand why in the circumstances about which you inquire, you might, with good reason, see yourself as contributing to a cultural decline with your acquiescence. Perhaps you are in a position of influence with younger workers and feel that you will be failing them. You may decide that this is only the first time that you will be asked to act in ways that are inconsistent with your beliefs and that more will follow. Alternately, maybe this will only affect you and it is a one-time request. This fellow employee may not even be around in six months time.
We don’t take risking employment lightly. The pressure, including using the force of government to demand obeisance at the altar of political correctness is growing. As much as you might want to say “No more”, there is sufficient reason for you to decide that this is not a battle you need to fight right now.
Wishing you success and self-respect as you cope with today’s rampant and militant secularism,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin