It’s not that I expect the evangelical Christians at The Gospel Coalition to offer good advice. If there’s an easy moral question, you can always rest assured that they’ll spent hundreds of words trying to justify their wrong answer. But it would be nice if the advice was just useless instead of harmful.
Consider Pastor Charlie Self, the author of an advice column at TGC who responded to a question about dealing with a transgender colleague.
The anonymous letter writer, who uses incorrect pronouns throughout the question, says his new colleague is a trans female. This apparently caught him “off-guard.” Even though there’s no indication the colleague is even bringing up gender identity in the workplace, the writer asks, “How can I speak to [my colleague] and work with [my colleague] in a loving way without compromising my Christian convictions?”
Simple. Talk about work. Save the Christian hate for church. I promise you your trans colleague doesn’t want to be your friend, much less hear your bigoted beliefs. Keep the conversations to a minimum. But if you have to talk regularly, then just address her the way she wants to be addressed and focus on the work you have to do. A trans person’s existence doesn’t need to be debated.
That’s not what Self says.
After first admitting that the letter writer should use the colleague’s preferred name — “I don’t think this is a hill to die on” — Self goes on to suggest ways to avoid using the correct pronoun:
I wish I had a better answer for you, but for now, this is my best advice: if possible, try to refer to this person in writing and verbally by the generic “they” or by using the person’s name in place of pronouns where possible.
So… don’t sound like a normal human. Instead, go out of your way to avoid referring to your female colleague as “she” because JESUS IS WATCHING.
How fragile are these people — and how weak is their faith — that using someone else’s pronoun is some massive imposition upon their lives?
That idiotic bit of advice from Self was followed by this contradiction when explaining how the writer should “be prepared.”
You want to have an answer when asked directly to affirm trans rights or LGBTQ lives. When asked, you can affirm your belief that, in a pluralistic world, diverse choices and opinions are part of true liberty.
If pressed more deeply, you can say that many philosophical and religious traditions have strong beliefs on gender identity and sexuality. You live your life in accordance with your faith, without imposing your convictions on others.
Purposely not using someone else’s pronoun because you’re religious is, in fact, “imposing your convictions on others.” It doesn’t have to be a legal challenge to be an asshole move.
Self’s final bit of advice is to be ready to “defend” your anti-trans bigotry using Bible verses and “science.” As if that’s going to make the workplace better for everyone. Self makes it sound like every day in this workplace is a spiritual battle between good and evil — when all the trans person probably wants to do is get some work done without being harassed.
Here’s some better advice that Self won’t tell the writer: If you can’t handle being around a trans person because your religion teaches you to treat others like shit, then quit. No one wants you in that workplace. Your colleagues deserve better than your toxicity. Just leave. Go find work at an evangelical church where that sort of hate is appreciated.
Or just apply for a job with The Gospel Coalition. Hell, they have Charlie Self writing advice columns and he doesn’t know a damn thing. It can’t be that hard to get hired by them.
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