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Gender neutral people?!

August 29, 2015

Grace to you! The beloved Volunteer University recently recommended faculty and students to ask other students what pronoun they would like used to identify themselves. In normal language when speaking we say ‘he, she, him, or her’ to reference someone in relation to their gender. However, UT now desires to help some students shed societal expectancy of having to be either a ‘he or she’. Students can indentify as gender neutral. UT provided a list of words such as ‘ze, zir, they, them, etc’ to be used of individuals who do not identify as either a ‘he or she’. Biblically speaking, what are we to think of this? Other than feeling the oddity of how it goes against our societal custom, is there any biblical reflection we need to take into account regarding gender neutral pronouns? As always, scripture gives a worldview to evaluate such proposals.

To get a grasp of what’s happening, we need to go back to the beginning. Gender and sexuality are never neutral. They are innate to our image bearing of God. “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27) God created a gender fixed humanity; not a plastic one for people to define as they wish. The rejection of gender is further denunciation of the Divine Sovereign and His plans for humanity. People now seek to be the Sovereign in place of God: creating and naming new aspects of humanity that have not existed before. Individuals become the new creators!

Romans 1:18-32 talks about how man rejects the Creator but still loves the benefits of God’s creation. This is called idolatry. Here’s how the new gender neutral language that exhibits this idolatry. Those who identify as gender neutral want new pronouns used about them to express their humanity and personhood. They desire to be seen as valid ‘people’ among the mass we call humanity. In other words, they do not wish to be valued and seen as less than human. For all the political pressure to get new gender neutral terms introduced, it’s interesting that our language already has a gender neutral term: the word ‘it’. However, none of the gender neutral proponents are arguing for the use of the word ‘it’ to refer to themselves. Why not use ‘it’? It is genderless. It is neutral. But this is how sinful repression of truth works. People want God’s benefits, in this case to be seen as a human and not an impersonal ‘it’, but not acknowledge the God who gave His good gifts. People, if they could, would murder God so He couldn’t tell them how to use His gifts.

The gender neutral crowd wants God’s value of humanity for their lives, but they also want to throw off God’s sovereignty for their new gender neutral defining sovereignty. How should a Christian respond to someone who asks to be called a gender neutral pronoun? For Christians to use gender neutral language is to also engage in and support the suppression of truth (Romans 1:18). Christians are obligated by Scripture to use ‘he’ or ‘she’ because gender based pronouns truly honor the person as an image bearer of God and not treat them as an ‘it’. The cure for this ill, as for others in society, is not to argue only over the fruit, in this case gender neutral language. The solution is to get to the heart of the problem which is the problem of the heart. Without a return to understanding God as our Sovereign Creator, we will never see the need to have the same God, the Lord Jesus, as our Savior. For those identifying as gender neutral, we need to help them see that to reject the personal God will ultimately mean they will lose their personhood. As much as they want to avoid using ‘it’ to identify themselves, without God not only they but all of us will become ‘its’ and lose what it means to be human and distinct in God’s creation. The loss of gender specific pronouns is not just about what words to use, but about society losing its human soul.

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