Just like how cultures and subcultures have their own distinct concepts and agendas and ideologies, so too do these respective domains. Just like how the citizens of Christ’s kingdom enjoy “the bread” and “cup of blessing,” which is our “participation in the body and blood of Christ” (1 Cor 10:16-17), the domain of darkness has a litany of its own demonic sacraments. Paul has to tell the Corinthians that the idolatrous rituals of their neighbors weren’t neutral.
The apostle Paul was a divider. This is not to say he was against unity per se. In fact, in a very real way, you could say that the unity of the Church was one of Paul’s hallmarks (Eph 4:1-7). But the unity Paul was after was thick. Much thicker than “politeness” or a shallow sense of getting along. Which is why he had no problem dividing the world up into two kinds of people: those who are in Christ, and those who are in Adam (Rom 5:12-21). Those who are dead in their trespasses (Eph 2:1-3), and those who are alive together with Christ (Eph 2:4-10). Those who view Christ according to the flesh, and those who view him thus no longer because they are “a new creation, the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:16-17).
And Paul’s division doesn’t stop there. Not only does he divide humanity in half, he also divides the universe’s systemic order in half: “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:13-14). This is a stark distinction: there is a “domain of darkness,” and there is a “kingdom of God’s beloved Son.” Every individual on planet earth is a part of one of these two cosmic orders. We’re all born into the former, and some of us are born again into the latter.
Where Ideas Come from
And, just like how cultures and subcultures have their own distinct concepts and agendas and ideologies, so too do these respective domains. Just like how the citizens of Christ’s kingdom enjoy “the bread” and “cup of blessing,” which is our “participation in the body and blood of Christ” (1 Cor 10:16-17), the domain of darkness has a litany of its own demonic sacraments. Paul has to tell the Corinthians that the idolatrous rituals of their neighbors weren’t neutral. They were “communion meals” for those in the domain of darkness: “I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not what you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons” (1 Cor 10:20-21).
How interesting. Paul is telling Christians that they ought not “be participants with demons” by blindly participating in the social conventions of their neighbors. In this, he annihilates the myth of neutrality. The agendas that are pushed around in our culture are all coming from somewhere. Their genesis is either in the domain of darkness, or the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. The many ideas whizzing by us have either been “taken captive to obey Christ,” or are “raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor 10:5).
Who’s In Charge Around Here?
Okay, so do we have that straight? There is no such thing as neutrality, yeah? Concepts and ideas and agendas are either in submission to Christ or are in rebellion to him. Great. Now that we have the principle sorted out in our own minds, let’s apply it to one particular area: transgenderism. Is it an idea arising from the domain of darkness or the kingdom of God’s beloved Son? Is it an argument in submission to Christ or is it raised in rebellion against the knowledge of God?
To ask the question is to answer it. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). No distinction between “gender” and “biological sex” here. God is not silent. “I know my biological sex,” I say, “but what is my gender?”And God has spoken: “XY.” Clear as day, he has answered my question.
Now, up until this point, very few professing evangelicals would object to anything I have said. In fact, some may be getting impatient. Yeah yeah, that’s the easy question, but what about the more difficult one? What about the question that baited us into clicking on this article? But this is actually quite important, because we are constructing an argument. And the baseline of this argument is to establish what is real. If God has spoken “XX” or “XY,” then our professed gender is either in submission to his authority, or it is in rejection to it. The adage “he who defines, wins” rings terrifyingly true.
So let me answer the question directly, and then, for those who care to read on, let me explain why I believe Christians must answer the question this way.
Question: Should I use my trans neighbor’s preferred personal pronoun?
Christians should not refer to their transgender neighbors by their preferred gender pronouns.
What concerns us is not merely what a preferred gender pronoun is, but also what it means. “XY and her, please and thank you,” means rebellion against God. It means that man, not God, is the measure of all things. It means that man is man’s own God, and reality bends to his wishes (or her or zim or sie or em or ver or ter).
God speaks. And in his speech, reality is constituted. He names things as they are, because he is authoritative. Defining reality, in other words, is a divine responsibility. Redefining reality is therefore creaturely insurrection (Gen 11:4). “I am XY and her” means “God is not God; I am.” Further, for us to call an “XY” a “her” also means something. “Sure,” it means, “I will reinforce your rebellious delusion. Gender actually is something in your control, and is not a prerogative of God alone. You may subvert God’s created order and be fine.”