Dear Rabbi Daniel and Susan,
Well, last week’s answer to the Ask the Rabbi question about an employee being directed to use a co-worker’s pronoun of choice caused more controversy than just about any previous answer. That isn’t surprising because it touched a nerve.
Any alert Bible-believer is aware that currently there is a strong attempt to marginalize, condemn and, dare we say, destroy traditional faith and its adherents in the United States. As such, people are aware that if a similar dilemma hasn’t accosted them at work yet, down the road it most likely will.
Can we respond to some of the points raised and elaborate on our answer?
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
Dear Ask the Rabbi readers,
First of all, we must thank you for sharing your views and interacting with us and your fellow readers in the comments section. We disappointed some of you and pleased others and a few of you accused us of not being clear enough.
We plead guilty to the last charge. As always, we know no more than our Ask the Rabbi questioner tells us. We do not contact the writer personally and conduct a lengthy interview. So, we are always in the dark as to many important aspects of the person’s life. In this case, we have no idea what William’s field of work is, what his position is and what family or other responsibilities he has. We have no idea if he has other work options or not. When you accept employment you surrender a certain independence in return for a pay check. While each of us can make decisions to act on principle no matter the cost, we did feel it would be irresponsible for us to tell William to behave in a way that had a good probability of causing him to lose his job. We can think of questions where that might be our duty—but the point we wanted to get across is that we do not see this as one of those cases.
What might be a harder question? If a doctor or nurse was told that their job was on the line if they did not perform an abortion or participate in an operation mutilating someone who wants to get rid of body parts that identify his or her sex, he or she would have a very serious moral and religious question to ask. If one of William’s female co-workers is told to go on a business trip and share a room with the person who now calls himself a woman despite his DNA showing him to be a man, she would have a very serious moral and religious question to ask. If a teacher is told that he or she needs to teach immoral and anti-Biblical ideas to students, he or she has a serious question to ask. Even in those extreme cases we are phrasing our answer somewhat ambiguously and we’d like to tell you why.