The Point: The Problem of Pronouns

He wants you to call him her. What do you do?

He wants you to call him her. What do you do? For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet.

So a friend announces that he or she was born in the wrong body, and is asking you to call him or her by the opposite gender’s pronouns. How do you respond?

Over at The Stream, Tom Gilson writes it’s important not to unnecessarily offend that friend, but at the same time, the idea that God created us male and female is a core conviction. We serve a Savior Who calls Himself “the Truth.” We can’t tell a lie.

Gilson suggests an answer along these lines: I understand that you have convictions about yourself, which is why you’re asking me to call you by a different pronoun. But I have convictions, too. And for me to go along with your request would violate those convictions, and therefore my identity. So how can we work this out together?

A little kindness, a little care, a little gentleness can go a long way. So remember, truth and love are not in conflict. No matter what happens, speak the truth and remember that the person you’re speaking with is made in the image of God.

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  • Just One Voice

    Excellent reminder!

    I hope BP’s critics can take this as a reminder too, that we are not out to offend, aggravate & insult. It’s just as simply as what you said, we have convictions too.

    So, how can we work this out together?

  • Scott

    “…this conflict of convictions most likely will end your friendship.”

    Unless both parties are willing to respect the other’s difference of conviction… with a little creativity and willingness to reconcile, the outcome might not be so grim.

    • Phoenix1977

      And how do you suppose people reconcile this? “You are allowed to believe you are a woman but not when you are near me?” or “You are allowed not to believe I am a woman but you will address me as such anyway?”
      If you deny people the right to be who and what they are, or if you simply ignore that part of them, there is no reconciliation possible.

      I have told you so many times: there is no middle ground. There are no acceptable compromises. You either accept me completely or you reject me completely. Which is why After all, if you deny me the right to be who I am and love who I do, why would I grant you the right to believe what you do? Either way, why would two friends remain friends when their worlds collide like that?

      • Gina Dalfonzo

        Who says our rights come from each other? Either our rights exist independent of what others think, or they don’t exist at all.

        • Scott

          Gina makes an excellent point. Also we are mixing rights and personal wants/desires.

          “I have told you so many times: there is no middle ground. There are no acceptable compromises. You either accept me completely or you reject me completely. Which is why After all, if you deny me the right to be who I am and love who I do, why would I grant you the right to believe what you do?”

          As I have said before, you are not defined by your sexuality only. You are a doctor. You like Disney. You have many other likes and dislikes, desires, tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. None of these things define you singularly but all of them collectively make you who you are. Nor am I denying you any rights. You and I have only one right in this matter. The right of choice.

          I have used this example before but not in our conversation: Just because I choose a woman to be my spouse, doesn’t mean I have the right to marry her. She also has the right to choice. In the end we have only one equal right… the right of choice.

          ” Either way, why would two friends remain friends when their worlds collide like that?”

          If a relationship exists, it is certainly possible for both parties to draw from other aspects of their relationship to gain understanding… this happens in every relationship I am a part of. Every person I love has some difference of opinion from me and yet we remain close.

          • Phoenix1977

            “you are not defined by your sexuality only.”
            Not only, no. But it is a big part of me. It’s integrated in everything I am and everything I do. Bringing my boyfriend with me to an event (any event) comes just as natural to me as bringing your girlfriend / wife does to you. If the event is yours and you disagree with me bringing my boyfriend, why would I come at all than?
            Couple of years ago my ex and me were celebrating Christmas at my brother’s house and his in-laws were there as well. As his brother-in-law and father-in-law drank they were starting to get rude about me and my ex, ending a nice evening with the comment we should never think our relationship had the same significance as a straight couple’s. My brother wanted to interfere but his wife stopped him. My ex and me left and it took over a year before my sister-in-law and me were on speaking terms again. I haven’t spoken to her brother or father ever since.

            “If a relationship exists, it is certainly possible for both parties to draw from other aspects of their relationship to gain understanding”
            Sorry, not when it is something as fundamental as someone’s nature.

          • Scott

            I am sorry about your family relationships. I simply cannot speak to them as I know too little. When you say:

            “Sorry, not when it is something as fundamental as someone’s nature.”

            Your statement is a matter of belief, not fact. As I know very little about your personal experiences, the same is true in reverse. I happen to know the following statement to be true from personal experience:

            “If a relationship exists, it is certainly possible for both parties to draw from other aspects of their relationship to gain understanding”

      • Steve

        Unfortunately Phoenix, It seems that you don’t just want to have what you want but you want to make everyone else do what you want. That is not freedom but totalitarianism.

        • Phoenix1977

          So being respected and not being discriminated against is totalitarianism? And here I thought it was basic human dignity.
          But if being recognized as a human being with feelings and rights is totalitarianism, so be it.