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
73 thoughts on “Taking a non-politically correct stand at the workplace”
How about just referring to the person by their last name. You don’t have to use a false pronoun, you don’t even have to use their new first name, if they change it. You don’t have to contribute to their mental sickness just use their last name every time you refer to them. If any one ever asks why you choose to call them by their last name then you can explain yourself.
Not a bad idea, Matt,
For heavens’s sake, take a stand! If they fire you, then they fire you. Pretty soon only [the politically correct flavor of the day] will work there and the business will fail, as the real talent had left. It won’t take long before this nonsense stops.
Rabbi Lapin, I think you’re right when you say political correctness is coming to the workplace, and when you essentially advise people to pick their battles wisely.
As to the pronoun dilemma, the best advice I would give is to stop using them. When I’m talking to someone, why would I address someone as him or her, I would use their name. The same is true when talking about the person, I’d refer to them by their names. If, for example, Steve decides to transition to Sheila, I’ll refer to this person as Shelia and use Shelia when talking to Shelia directly. No reason to use pronouns. If someone asks me about it, I can say that using pronouns seems so impersonal to me. Thus I can maintain my principals and still treat people with respect.
William, is there a story behind why you were taken aside? I will tell you what I would tell my son or my brother if they were in your situation.
Do not ever twist Scripture by quoting sentences out of context and using that to support your view. This is dishonest and can be used against you later because this is inherently inconsistent. The Bible is a massive text. You can prove anything by quoting out of context. Don’t be tempted to follow false teachings derived using this method.
In your situation there are three questions of boundaries.
1) Is the choices of that man acceptable or is he currently in a state of sin?
2) Are you being coerced to endorse his choices by using his preferred pronoun?
3) Whether it’s worth losing your employment or livelihood because of this issue?
Well, you know already that you shouldn’t judge a persons soul. Only God can do that. However you can discriminate based on persons actions. If you believe he is committing a sin then follow Jesus advice from Mathew 18 – tell him respectfully in private, then in small group and then in church/community. If he doesn’t repent then leave him alone (“treat him like gentile or a tax collector”).
Well is he? It’s your call. Perhaps he’s mentally ill and there is very little you can do to help him. Pray for the healing of his soul. Or perhaps something more malevolent is going on in which case you are right to call him out on his actions and distance yourself from him if he doesn’t repent.
Whether it’s worth losing your employment over this? If you are consistently coerced by your superior to endorse this kind of lifestyle even after you explain your reasoning then I recommend to look for other employment opportunities. Would you work with someone who was coercing you to worship Satan? Where is the line? It is a difficult situation and I pray for you and your family.
Thank you for sharing Sandis.
I would add one more question to your list of boundaries:
4) Is the environment I am working in based on the Bible or is it a secular environment?
(You could also frame it as asking whether William’s coworker believes in the teachings of the Bible or not)
This extra distinction is important in my mind because Matthew 18 only applies to fellow Christians or Bible-believers. If William’s work environment and/or co-worker is not a believer, than some aspects of Matthew 18 don’t make sense and could do further damage to even a working relationship. In a Christian environment and/or if William and the co-worker attend the same Church, then there is room for Matthew 18.
However, in a secular environment, I don’t see the path being as clear or even the same. If William was a missionary to a strange, non-Christian culture on the other side of the world that had many very-different and unique customs (including the one in question here), would you advise William in the same way, or would your advice change?
As I analyze this dilemma, I wonder whether the primary distinction is knowing both the before and the after? If we were introduced to someone several years after their transition took place and we had not known them before, would calling them by their preferred pronoun still be as morally questionable? If you began a new job and were being introduced to your coworkers and you are introduced to someone who made a transition like this several years earlier (whether it is obvious or not), would only knowing the current condition still be morally challenging?
In my own mind, I don’t see being respectful of an individual as endorsing their lifestyle, but I also acknowledge that this is a very tricky situation — because knowing both the before and the after is what makes this a fascinating question.
Thanks for sharing and including your thoughts.
If William is
Cam, thanks! If he was missionary to a secular culture that doesn’t know God then I would expect him to set a good example rather than to succumb to their secular ways. Look at history of the Benedictine monks and how they facilitated the resurrection of the western civilization.
I apologize if I’m wrong but it seems that you believe that “transition” is even possible? Then I must ask – what is a man and what is a woman and when a man becomes a woman?
The overarching theme of this discussion is whether to appease secularism or fight it while it’s still possible. I was born in the Soviet Union. I’ve seen what atheism/socialism does to individual, family, workplace, church, nation. I can sort of understand how elderly people from my country cling to it for nostalgic reasons however the reason for why the West wants to embrace it escapes me.
With respect, Sandis,
the overarching theme is more whether someone who really cares about the culture is morally obliged to lose their job over this work directive. I don’t think there’s any doubt that where possible we all ought to fight secularism in public life. The question is whether that is done best by contributing funds to some of the outstanding organizations fighting secularism such as Alliance Defending Freedom or whether one should go down in flames, as it were, by getting fired over this.
I absolutely agree that setting a good example is better than succumbing “to their secular ways”. One sets an example by what one does, not what they expect others to do. I see this as a different discussion than advising someone who is facing a challenging personal situation. The scope of this discussion is more of a challenging interpersonal situation, which is different.
To clarify the word “transition”, I have no idea if an actual transition is possible. I use this word to fit the event of a surgery that marks a point in time that something happened that was significant to the individual wanting to change a part of their body. I have no idea if they metaphysically feel different after such an operation, and I haven’t really been interested or curious enough to seek someone out to ask.
As RDL has jumped in to clarify, I’ve shared my original response with the intent of advising an individual in a specific situation. This is not advising someone who is considering a gender transition, but advising someone who is wrestling with how to deal with gender transitioning people in their lives. If William wants to take a stand regarding this issue and face the storm of culture, then I am not going to stop him. I applaud those who stand up in times as these.
In my own mind, as I shared in my original comment, I see people as being more than their gender (whether it was one they chose or one they were born with). I choose to see all people as children of God and as people who God loves. And for those who are familiar with Christianity, also as people who Jesus died to save.
Because I see people as being more than their gender, I don’t have any problem addressing people how they wish to be addressed, whether it is via a nickname, their full name, or any other way. If I were to take a stand that is less than this, there would be no way to build any sort of friendship with them, or to even communicate with them that God loves them in any way that would be believable.
Jesus hung out with sinners, and He invited the most outcast classes of people to follow Him. As a follower of Jesus, I am called and challenged to be equally as loving, even if everything in my sinful nature wants to judge others who are different instead.
Hope this helps clarify my thoughts.
Interestingly, there is no reply button on Jeff Lestz’s last post, so this will not appear after his post. Time for some tough love here. First of all, I don’t have to agree to disagree, because if someone’s very soul is in danger (and I’m not talking about William here), God tells us to be the watchman on the wall. Speaking Truth is not judging others, it is not being obnoxious, it is simply stating what is and it is loving. Speaking Truth takes courage, effort, skill, and results in growth. Saying “whatever you want is okay with me” is the easy way out. Ask Peter as he was being crucified, “Was that the easy way out?” Ask Paul as he was being stoned, “Was that the easy way out?” Or Stephen or any of the other disciples. I guess they were just not as enlightened as modern day Christian Lite people are and could have avoided all of that persecution by just getting along and not offending anyone. Ask a person saving lives at an abortion clinic by standing out in 10 degree weather, “Is that the easy way out?”
Many Biblical Hebrew words have a male or female version. Maybe you should let God know that you know better and it doesn’t matter.
The world was spoken into existence. So, yes, words matter.
Funny how the ” judge not least ye be judged” Christian Lite folks have a whole boatload of judgement for those Christians who they feel are too judgemental. As Paul Washer said “Twist not scripture, least ye be like Satan.”
William did not say he was ignoring the person, refusing to engage, or was uncomfortable with the person. You assumed that. His basic question was “Is it Biblical to say something you know is untrue?”
I find it sad that so many say it is.
Thank you! You are exactly right – relativism hurts people.
WOW! This has been a very interesting post to me! I have a son who is currently legally “married” to a man. Currently we aren’t speaking until I (in his words) “quit calling his husband his ‘partner’ and call him his husband”. i have spent a lot of time pondering my beliefs to come up with a Godly response and solution. On one hand, I want to be loving and show respect that he has a right to live according to his convictions. On the other hand, I want to remain true to what God calls right and holy. My honoring & labeling his choice as legitimate by calling it marriage seems to violate my right to live by my convictions. All that being said, my conclusion was that it matters more about the spirit and attitude of my choices in how to deal with this matter. I love him, I want the best for him and I accept I can’t live his life for him… BUT the attitude of giving into his request will leave me feeling like I didn’t stand firm against the tactics of submission of satan. Romans 6:16 “Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God)?” Or Psalms 1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. Jesus was a friend of sinners but never condoned and went along & agreed with the sin.
Not that I am in any way qualified to give advice on someone else’s work situation, but my over all view of the topic is that it’s important to keep a close eye on your attitude while choosing your path.
Tough situation, Mom3,
Reading all the comments posted yesterday, I hope I’m not too late to add mine.
I see the validity and can find something to agree on with everyone who commented.
I have a slightly different take on the situation as I worked with two. One, a man who I worked with for 9 years, the other a woman who I only worked with for a year.
Three years ago, mgmt informed us that my coworker was now to be called a new name and referred to as she.
Everyone was shocked, except for one employee who apparently had known for years.
But when she came back to work, we began calling her by her new name.
As she slowly transitioned, it became easier to see her and not the guy I worked with.
In my mind though, I still thought of her as him, still occasionally referred to her as him and would apologize. It would happen when bringing up issues we had handled together at work when she was he.
I had a harder time calling the woman he, altho he wore a pin stating the correct pronoun. His name was ambiguous, but I kept seeing a woman when I looked at him.
I won’t address the underlying reality of how gender can change from what you were born with, or the bigger question of should society be forced to comply when they do.
Instead, I’ll just say, the man was my friend and co-worker. We shared many laughs together before he became she.
After, she was different, dealing with her new reality. It wasn’t just an adjustment for us, it was an a huge adjustment for her.
I hadn’t known the man (woman) but a few months before being told she was now he.
His appearance didn’t change, which probably explains why I kept calling him, her.
The question of, did I feel like I was going against my Catholic teachings?
No. As someone else posted, we are first and foremost children of God.
If someone came to ME and said, “Mary, you are now a man” I would fight that.
But God judges, not man.
Who am I to judge what someone wants to be called?
(A woman married her dog, what is that?)
The world is full of labels, the only one that matters is, we are all children of God.
We may arrive in heaven to discover there is no male or female.
Amen. Thank you for sharing this.
While I haven’t had the same experience you shared, it sums up who I would aspire to be if placed in a similar situation.
Looks like we are all going to have to become better informed about the policies of our places of employment and quite possibly talk to a lawyer about our options. We have to be employed to provide for our families.
If we are to remain employed by companies that favor political correctness, our only option is to obey the policies of that company.
We have to know what our rights are. Is saying that our long held religious beliefs are being violated enough to release us from having to call a coworker by their chosen gender? Or do we say that as a religious person we are not in agreement with the person who is transitioning but for the same reason we will comply with their request. We’re going to have to become better informed.
And may l say, Rabbi Daniel and Susan, l am deeply touched that you treat us Christians with love and respect even though we have religious differences. You never call us out when we offer advice from New Testament scripture, but you simply say you cannot advise us about Scripture other than the Hebrew scripture. It’s a beautiful thing!
I’m looking forward to your further reply in the next “Ask the Rabbi.”
Marilyn, Beautifully put !
I am grateful Rabbi Lapin and Susan accept me for who I am.
I was raised in a Jewish Family and became a Messianic believer over 40 years ago. I have never felt judged or criticised by them. They are both the epitome of Love and respect for others.
Yes! Thank you, Jeff. You must’ve had a similar experience when you merged your Jewish faith with the Christian Faith, asking your Jewish family to call you by a ” new” name.
Rabbi Lapin’s advice is not given lightly, is it? He and Susan do their utmost to give us advice that teaches us “how the world really works.” ( I listen to Rabbi Lapin’s podcast)
We love, respect, and admire you, Jeff,
And we deeply cherish your friendship!
Wow, the somewhat tepid answer to the tricky question has stirred a hornet’s nest.
Is using fictional pronouns as demanded by those who have ‘transitioned’ a loving and respectful thing to do, or does it reinforce the delusion that is being suffered and make you a participant in the fantasy?
Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
Which option is the stumbling block?
Wow! You really know how to inflict pain.
But seriously, that is the question.
We will try to provide a fuller and less tepid clarification soon
“…there are only three prohibitions for which you have to lose your life rather than violate. ” What are the the prohibitions?
Thank you Rabbi
If you’re threatened with death unless you publicly denounce your faith in God and worship an idol, we have to stand tall and say, “Pull the trigger”. If we are threatened with death unless we have sex with a married woman, we have to stand tall and say “pull the trigger”. If we are threatened with death unless we murder an innocent human being, we have to stand tall and say, “Go ahead, pull the trigger.” Those are the only instances.
Having read all the responses up to this point, as a Christian and someone who has grown to value both Rabbi Daniel and Susan’s advice, speaking, and writing for close to a decade, like many of you, I was very interested in reading their thoughts on this tricky question.
Overall, I agree with the Lapins’ advice to William’s dilemma, specifically that this specific case might not be worth fighting. As a general rule, if William like’s his place of employment and this is the only strike against it, then it probably can and should be overlooked. However, if this is the latest in a string of negative incidents in this company, then perhaps for this and the other reasons, it may be worth seeking different employment.
However, I do have two things to add to the discussion which have not been stated or I did not see:
1. Bearing false witness against your neighbor is not the same as lying. Bearing false witness would be more like spreading damaging lies about someone. Bearing false witness is almost always lying, while not all lying is bearing false witness. I see this commandment as choosing to not talk negatively about anyone, and nothing in this scenario appears to me like addressing someone as they would like to be addressed is talking negatively about them. I’m sure the Lapins’ will have much more to say about this.
2. As I write this, none of the Christians in this comment thread have mentioned or addressed Paul, when he wrote in Galatians 3:28 –> “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
If Paul clearly puts gender in the same status as race/nationality, then this is a secondary issue to being known as a “child of God” and a “follower of Jesus”. According to Paul, God is not looking at our freedom, nationality, or gender. He looks at our status as His children. For those in this thread who focus on only the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament), then feel free to discount Paul in this New Testament verse.
My big question for William that I cannot tell from the question is whether he works in a Christian or Bible-believing environment. If he is working outside of a church environment, then pulling the Bible into this discussion likely will do more damage than good. Using the Bible as a reason in this case could easily place a large target on his back from lawyers wanting to expose Christians and label them as judgmental. As a conservative Christian who has been called to love others by Jesus, find any reason you can that is not the Bible to defend your case. Using the Bible drags God into the mud of this debate that can easily not be loving. God is love and acting in unloving ways damages not just your character but God’s. Also know that how the other person thinks you feel about them is very important.
I agree with those who suggest seeking legal guidance. I also agree that this is an issue that I would prefer to not see in culture. I suspect that a legal case about pronoun use will eventually become national news. A good counter question to William is whether he would want to be the famous person for pushing this issue if he is ever faced with a lawsuit for his choice. There will be a point someone is famous for standing their ground regarding pronoun use, and they will either win or be sacrificed on the alter of political correctness. I know I would rather not be the person forced into the spotlight for this.
My apologies for the long blog-like comment. Let me end by quoting Amos 5:13 –> “Therefore at such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time.” While we are challenged to stand for what we believe in, we must be prudent/wise with how we live our beliefs.
“What would Jesus do?”
My family and I have discussed this phrase many times and we decided to take matters into our own hands. We have read the four “Gospel” books together (four adults) twice, my husband and I have read together twice, our four adults read them with a large group once, and we’re reading them with two other now, six of us. This means that we’ve read them, at least five times, and I’ve read them on my own a couple of times. We read them book by book and chapter by chapter in the “Christian Bibles.” We’ve also used at least three English versions coupled with some questions about the use of certain words that would be translated differently if the words were Hebrew or Aramaic.
People often talk about how well they know the Greek language and I don’t find that to be useful. Based upon my understanding and knowledge, “What DID Jesus do? And what DID Jesus say?” would be better questions to ask.
We get the gist of the point in all of those books: we must love everyone including enemies, however, we must not lead them into demise and we must attempt to steer all people toward a clear path or to reject them from our circle. There’s nothing suggesting that in every single case we should just “go along to get along.” Jesus also made it clear that His followers will be persectuted by others for standing up for Him.
In the great scheme of things, there is every reason to work joyfully with inner strength and to treat others as fellow humans Created by the same maker in the workplace and to find creative ways to “steer others in a better direction.” Sometimes that steering is just by setting better examples for them.
Hopefully, everyone’s answers are helpful.
BTW: Cam, Jesus refers back to Genesis in talking about male and female relating to marriage. If Paul’s books appear to disagree with Jesus, then I would look at Jesus’ remarks rather than Paul’s. That said, contextually speaking, the point Paul is making is that we treat everyone, without looking at their myriad diversities (Jew, Greek, Male or Female), with respect and with a desire to work with them.
Sorry for the late reply LJ. Just checked back and saw this.
I agree with you and thank you for adding these points. I too have read the gospels through many times, often going event by event and studying each closely. I don’t know Greek or Hebrew and am at the mercy of those who are smarter and have translated it for me.
On your footnote, I agree that Jesus took a very strong position regarding marriage and the male/female connection made in marriage and that He looks back to Eden for the model. However, this discussion doesn’t relate to marriage, and that is one reason why I didn’t draw this message from Jesus into my earlier reply.
I don’t think that Paul and Jesus conflict on this point. In the marriage discussion, Jesus focuses on us living here on this planet before the resurrection. Later on, Jesus shares a slightly different perspecting that sounds very similar to Paul’s. Jesus alludes to God’s perspective and beyond a time when marriage exists as it does now when speaking to the Sadducees. Luke 20:34-37 includes Jesus telling the Sadducees: “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.” (bold added)
As far as I am aware, angels do not have a gender, and when we are resurrected, according to Jesus, we will be more similar to the angels than our former selves who married or had that option. When looking at Paul’s writing in my earlier comment, I wouldn’t be surprised if Paul was simply expanding on the idea Jesus challenged the Sadducees with.
In my earlier response and now, I hope I made it clear that loving someone who is clearly making a difficult choice (William’s coworker) is not the same as agreeing with their choice. I have no idea what goes through the mind of someone deciding to have a surgery of that sort. The clear and only choice I do have is whether I choose to see people as being more than their gender (as Jesus and Paul model for us), or as someone who looks at others only based on their gender (or gender of choice). (Today’s gender-identity politics wants us to focus on the latter.)
In other words, I completely agree with the final point you shared that “the point Paul is making is that we treat everyone, without looking at their myriad diversities (Jew, Greek, Male or Female), with respect and with a desire to work with them.”
Like most of us here, I’m looking forward to reading the Lapins’ response!
**Oops, the earlier scripture reference should read Luke 20:34-36.
I know a former US Army, non-commissioned officer. He was commanded to comply with a request for a name and sex change of a fellow male soldier who was “transitioning” to be a fellow female soldier. He simply chose to call everyone by their ranks and last names without using sir or ma’am. He told my husband and me that this man had to lie just to join the Army in the first place, and that lying is against Army policy. He was not wrong to decide to do what he needed to do under the circumstance. It’s a distraction for these men and women who are there to do their jobs honestly. It’s an abuse to undermine the DoD to advance personal political causes.
My husband and I are fairly nice to all people we come across, so we do not tend to treat people differently. We do pray for people who sometimes look like they’re deeply unhappy. My husband also works in government service, so he has been subjected to emails aimed to encourage people to “come out” and to “be heard.” These items have one agenda and it is to incite fear in people who are opposed to them. It most certainly is not meant to celebrate individuals for their “bravery” in “coming out,” they are simply used and abused by it.
Sometimes challenges, such as William M’s, can give us inspiration to behave creatively as our Army friend did in his work place. Our creator wants His will carried out daily; and we can all pray for the poor soul who is either very unhappy in his own skin or who has been encouraged to be very unhappy in his own skin. May this person be saved from his current trauma and return to a sane state of mind.
I have a lot to say and may do it later, but if you are being forced to violate your conscience on an issue like this, you may want to seek advice from a Judeo-Christian legal group like Alliance Defending Freedom as I believe they will offer their services for free at least at times. If we continue to bow down to the political correctness/thought police we will lose more and more of our rights. We need to stand up and fight or we will continue to be spit on by the other side!
Just to add to the above, as I didn’t provide a website, you can find groups like Alliance Defending Freedom with a simple Google search. There may be other similar legal groups wherever you live too.
We are reading all the comments and holding back on responding both to allow everyone their say as well as to absorb all the ideas being put forth. We will give an overall response either in the comment section here or, perhaps, in next week’s Ask the Rabbi.
“Thou Shall not bare false witness.” – God. This means if you are a man and I know you are man, I can not call you a woman. If you want to through in prison, light me on fire, or fire me then so be it. God will judge you and I for it, and it won’t go well for you in the end. (You meaning the politically correct police).
YOu can find another job but you can’t take back the lie from your lips.
When David was inspired and divinely provoked to fight Goliath, his brothers picked a fight with him
for coming to the battle field. But David knew how to select his fight from his battle. He ignored them.
He won the battle, the fight got consumed by the victory over Goliath. Let William conduct himself
so as to win that ‘she/he’ through his attitude as a christian.
Why is it that people ask for advice and get upset when they don’t like the answer given? Only God knows.
When you accept employment, you also accept all the good, bad and ugly that comes with it. Start your own business so you can set your own rules and behavior of conduct. Also, find a good lawyer that knows how to navigate around social changes.
My personal approach to this is to use their chosen name. For example, if a man wants to be called “Sandra”, fine, I will call him “Sandra”. If he wants me to call him “Donald Duck”, fine. His chosen name has nothing to do with the integrity of genetic reality. As long as his chosen name does not constitute what my beliefs deem a expletive or other abominable language, I have no problem calling him whatever he wishes.
But I will not call him a monkey or insect or kumquat. I should never be forced to DENY scientific reality.
I can also REFRAIN from using ANY pronouns. If referring to him as “him” or “he” causes him to soil his blouse, then of course there is nothing morally incorrect about refraining from this language. It is no different than shoving the reality of the Holocaust in the face of a Jewish person or even a relative of Nazi who is horrified over their family’s past. The FACTUAL REALITY of the Holocaust does not mean it can not cause unnecessary trauma.
But I will never DENY the Holocaust. I do not have to mention it. But neither should I be forced to DENY ITS REALITY. Just as I need to respect how factual reality may cause others distress, so too should those same others respect how DENYING factual reality can cause ME distress.
Not certain this solves the issue, however, IF the situation is that one is forced to use incorrect pronouns. In that case, one has to make a choice: 1) bend to delusion and be forced to deny reality; 2) stick to your integrity and insist that you be allowed to refrain from using ANY pronouns whatsoever; or 3) seek employment elsewhere.
Frankly, any workplace that became that intolerant of my Judeo-Christian faith is better off without me, and I them.
My husband faces this daily from a young lady who has transitioned to a man. He simply calls her by her title, or by her name. He has others who he supervises who refuse to address her as a he. They simply call her by name. She’s a nice person with a heart for serving people and kids. They avoid the use of pronouns and she utilizes the “guest” bathroom at work.
I think this answer makes perfect sense! By calling someone their preffered name, you’re just respecting what they want to be called. That doesn’t mean that you approve or disapprove of anything they do. But, I guarantee of you live like/look like Jesus long enough, you’ll make plenty of impact among those who work with you. They may sense an excellent spirit in you, and they may come to you as a friend or seeking truth about God. You can then tell him about the Bible and lead him to God for answers and clarity.
Never do something that will get you fired unless it involves breaking the law. If something bothers you then quietly look for another job, or start your own business. However, this company might just be complying with the law in your state. Maybe you need to move to another state.
If we all took the attitude to refuse to work with a person who had a tattoo say we would very soon find ourselves unable to get a job and keep it. Likewise, if an employer insisted that no one was to work for his company if one of the men/women sported same he would have a lot of difficulty in filling his vacancies. All in all, Rabbi you got it right.
19 Deuteronomy. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show favoritism, and you shall not take a bribe, for bribery blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts just words.
Rabbi, what are the 3 prohibitions for which you should lose your life rather than violate? Thank you in advance for your response =)
See my answer to Dru nearby.
Rabbi Lapin, I liked your answer and think it is peppered with wisdom.
If someone wants to be called a man or woman or anything else why should it bother me?
I may not agree with someone’s sexual preferences but I do not have to be judgmental or be self righteous in my thinking or actions. Tolerance of other peoples beliefs is not bowing down to others, it is showing respect and love for others.
I have several gay friends and colleagues and love them just as much as I do anyone else. It does not mean that I condone their lifestyle, it simply means I respect them as human beings. If you really want to ‘let your light shine’ do it by treating people with love , not criticism or condemnation.
Thank you Jeff,
Quite possibly some of those who wrote are business professionals but I know you as a very experienced and skilled Christian businessman. How would you help some of those who have written here upset because as they see it, calling this confused human being as he/she wishes to be addressed is a violation of their Christian conscience and worth losing financial security over?
I’m having trouble figuring out how to help them see it differently.
Thank you for the response. Here are my thoughts.
WWJD – What would Jesus do ?
It is interesting that one of the biggest criticisms that Jesus got was that he was a ‘Friend to Sinners’. Jesus hung out with people of ‘questionable character’ and taught to love others respective of their status in life.
I believe if Jesus was faced with this situation he would accept them, love them and be a friend to them.
If we are truly to be ‘lights to the world’ how can we do this secluded and running away from people who are not like us? The light shines the brightest in the darkest spots. I have led many people to faith and I did it through accepting them just as they were and not judging them. I also befriended them NOT to win them to the Lord but just to be a friend. My advice to people is quit being so temperamental and judgmental. Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.
As I read God’s word, grace is undeserved by all of us and none of us are without faults or sin. My job in life is to love people, share the good news and God’s love with people with no strings attached.I cannot live someones life for them and it is just common sense that if you make a friend people will be open to your friendship. If you are truly at peace with yourself and secure in your relationship with God other people unlike you will not make you uncomfortable.
What would the world look like if we were more tolerant of others who are so different than us?
Jesus said ‘ They will know you by your love’ , not by you being judgmental and condemning.
What would Jesus do ? Whatever someone wanted to be called he would certainly call them friend.
I agree Jeff. Thank you for sharing these thoughts!
What would Jesus do? I think Jesus would say something like “God created you as a man for a reason and God does not make mistakes. Now go and sin no more.” Agreeing with something that is false is not love. Standing firmly in Truth with love and compassion is love. Letting other people take the arrows for opposing an ungodly policy while you get kudos for getting along, is not love. Why was this question even posed? It was because William knows in his heart that going along with the charade is wrong. It is a sad state of affairs when so many Christians are willing to compromise the gospel in order to get along and defining “love” as “getting along”.
I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.
I have a cousin who was a woman and became a man.I now call them what they want… a man.
If someone is born with the name William but prefers to be called Bill is this a sin? If someone changes their name legally from Samuel to Mephibosheth am I bearing false witness because they were not born with this name?
When we isolate ourselves we certainly become ‘highly efficient’, clinical and sanitized!
Judging others, rejecting others unlike ourselves is the easy way out. It takes no effort, skill or growth to stay comfortable and not accept others for who they are. Do you really think being judgmental and quitting a job witnesses to people in a positive way ?
It takes maturity to ‘stay the course’ and not be a jerk to others. It does not mean I have to participate , it just means that I show them grace. If someone wants to be addressed as a man or a woman why should that bother me ? If they want to be called a goat that is their decision . Who am I to pass judgment on them?
I have seen many Christians who refuse to engage with others because it would ‘pollute’ them. In fact I find the people who are the most condemning and judgmental are the ones with their own ‘secret sins’ to hide. Judge not lest you be judged.
Not compromising my beliefs and being judgmental and obnoxious are two different things.
I have led 100’s of people to the Lord and I did not do it by running away from their lifestyle. I accepted them for who they were and let God deal with their hearts. ‘As for me and my house we will serve God’ but it doesn’t mean I have to move away from my neighbours.
Sorry, but I think William is making a mountain out of a mole hill.
True. Jesus heals the sick and forgives the sins of those who ask for forgiveness. He used a whip to drive out the money changers from the Temple. He confronted a respected pharisee at his home. Truth comes by conflict and the best you can offer your neighbor is truth.
But for sure William must exercise caution and tune his response to the severity of the coercion.
Thank you Jeff!
This is a difficult question and I can see how so many commenters are not too happy with the Rabbi’s response. If I were there, if it were possible, I would let the person know my stance as a Christian, but also let them know that I respect their wishes and will refer to them but their chosen pronoun.
I wonder if the answer to this dilemma is found in the story of Daniel who had his name to Belteshazzar. I feel like there might be something there, but I can’t seem to put my finger on it.
Thank you for affirming what God has been pressing on me, repeatedly. Pick your battles. I’ve a habit of picking too many.
We all tend to do that Judy,
Unfortunately. We are all attracted to the idea of incandescent virtue and on some level, we are even drawn to martyrdom. Not a good idea other than in few narrowly constrained circumstances.
Jeff Lutz expressed my exact thoughts, however I would have not commented in such a kind way. Not being a regular reader of your thoughts or insight, I have no idea where you stand on other matters.
However, it is replies like this which is adding to the problems of this world. It is like “if it feels good…
do it even though it is morally and ethically wrong. This politically correct thing is only leading to more
cultures like those found in “Sodom and Gomorrah. Perhaps it would be good for one to visit: Romans1:24-27
Rabbi Daniel and Susan,
I disagree with your assessment. My wife and I have been advising a couple of our children who are in public universities and the militancy has reached another level. Our take is that it has reached the level of attempted mind control.
In one case, the use of the “proper pronoun” as designated by every person is required conduct. However, here is the difference with someone simply asking you to call them by a different name or title.
The pronoun I use reflects my thought about that person. Requiring me to use “she” when I believe “he” is to force me to violate my conscience. This is different than names or titles. If Sam wants to be called Sally or Esmeralda, who am I to argue? But it is my choice to refer to ‘him’ in third person, and if I must say ‘her’ (or face the consequences) I have been forced to affirm that ‘he’ is female which is a lie against my conscience.
And of course it gets worse…because now there is “them/they” and all kinds of other gender confused permutations.
This pronoun movement is insidious because it is straight out of a thought police / mind control handbook. If you disagree with me on your gender, that’s fine. And feel free to correct me whenever we speak together. But you have no right to force my speech to conform to thoughts that are not mine.
I had a boss whose name was Dick. He insisted everyone call him Richard. It was no problem to call him Richard but Dick fit him much better
Years ago, my aunt worked in a coffee shop and men would come in from time to time, wearing lipstick and nail polish or other women’s items. And her co-workers would shun the men, gathering up to whisper, while my aunt would take a menu and greet them pleasantly, like any other paying customer. When her co-workers asked her how could she stand them, this is what she said. “Those men are some mother’s son and I treat them as I would want someone to treat my son if he was in that state and wanted something to eat.”
By honoring the son, my aunt was showing honor to his mother. When we honor each other, as the Rabbi said, we are showing honor to the God who created us all.
Thanks for the comic relief Taylot! I dated a guy named Richard where the same principle applied! 🤣
God bless your aunt, Deborah Knight! I agree. I think everyone is right here. We ARE in a vicious battle for Truth and the survival of Judeo-Christian civilization, but we must choose our battles carefully. If William is supporting a family then THEY are is first priority and God will forgive him for his compliance. After all, the man in question is some mother’s son! BUT if William is single and only responsible to himself, then maybe a good solution would be to find another job at a company that better fits his values. Either way, it is a difficult and unfortunate sign of the times. My point is a matter of priority.
Good thinking Dianne-
The answer skates gingerly around the question and helps neither William nor the readers. What specifically, Rabbi, would you do if you were in William’s shoes? Would you comply with the pc request?
What would Daniel (and others) do? Is anything worth standing for -or is ‘getting along’ more important?
Orwell 1984; right is wrong, up is down, —no more North Star.
I would comply and I would donate generously to the Alliance for Defending Freedom. There is no Biblical prohibition in this matter. It is not a lie because a lie is defined as something in which someone is misled. By me using a pronoun as instructed by my supervisor, there is nobody at my workplace who will say, “Wow, so I guess old Fred really is now Fernandina”. People’s minds are largely made up on this subject. It is not required to lose your job but if this makes you uneasy, by all means quit and find another job with like minded people. If you can.
The only wise suggestion is refusing to kneel down to those sick worker and even more sick management of the firm.
I’m afraid you didn’t gave him nor wise nor applicable advice if I may say so….
He should resign from job and not waste his time in that sick working environment.
Easy for you to say, Ivan,
since you won’t have to explain to his wife and kids why he’s unemployed.
There is no Biblical imperative to go down in flames over this request. When you accept employment you surrender a certain independence in return for a pay check. I think you have to recognize that.
Not you too Rabbi Lapin! Was this answered by you or has your organization been taken over? “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. ” is one good reason. It is precisely this attitude that has landed the culture in the dire straights it is in. Calling a man a woman is a lie. Saying it is okay to lie to save your employment seems very unBiblical. Lying to save your life or someone else’s life, maybe, but to keep your job? The whole point of the transgender movement is to eliminate those who believe in the Bible from speaking Truth. We are in a spiritual battle. Compromising God given principles certainly would seem to put you on the road to Hell. “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” I realize you are not a Christian, but do you disagree with “For what shall it profit a man though he should win the whole world, if he lose his own soul?” What we need is a whole army of Williams that say “You all are crazy and I am not going to be part of the insanity.” And no, I would not go along with calling someone a general who never was a general because that is what he wanted. To those of us who served in the military, that would be insulting.
Amen Sir and Bravo. I will never call a woman a man or vice versa. Fire me if you want. I am not insane like the rest of the world. The madness must stop and Williams of the world must follow their gut and what they know is right. Hobby Lobby is a perfect example. They refuse to cave in to political correctness. There are others. They are few.
I tip my hat to your firmness and certainty. However, Hobby Lobby, God bless the Green family, is an independent business owned by Godly people who can make their own decisions for themselves. But, you Kevin, when your boss asks you to say ‘her’ or ‘she’ about a man, and you refuse and get fired, pray, what will you tell your wife and children who depend upon you for support? The question is does God want us to put ourselves in this kind of position in order to avoid using certain pronouns? That is the question. So what would you tell your family as to why you are unemployed?
You are factually wrong on this one. Calling a man a woman in a work environment is not a lie. A lie is something which misleads the person to whom you are talking. Using the wrong pronouns in response to a work directive misleads nobody. There is no Biblical imperative to go down in flames over this request. When you accept employment you surrender a certain independence in return for a pay check. I think you have to recognize that.
I don’t think I understand or am clear on your answer…
He says indirectly to go along with the request as a matter of common courtesy instead of not complying and risking his job, the displeasure of his boss or a possible lawsuit.
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