I subscribe to Christianity Today, but maybe not for much longer.
I’m not the only one to notice that CT has taken a strong “leftward turn” towards the social gospel and (what I think of as) cultural Marxist stances. Most recently, I came across this article, about a controversy in John Ortberg’s Menlo Church. The article read:
“The pastor’s son Daniel Lavery, frustrated by what he has characterized as a lack of concern for the seriousness of sexual abuse, publicly named the volunteer on Twitter in late June: his brother and Ortberg’s youngest child, 30-year-old John Ortberg III.”
I naturally thought Ortberg had a son named Daniel, but I wondered about the different last name. After doing a little research, it turns out that Ortberg does not have a son named Daniel Lavery. Instead, he has a daughter named Mallory Ortberg, who identifies as transgender and who goes by the name Daniel. Furthermore, Mallory is married to a man who identifies as a woman (Grace Lavery, a prof. in critical studies [i.e., cultural Marxism] at Berkeley, whose birth name I could not find).
What a mess!
What bothers me is that CT referred to Mallory/Daniel as a “he” and called her Ortberg’s “son.” Is that consistent with speaking the truth? Or is that a form of lying?
I came across this article by Julie Roys discussing how Christian media should handle transgender pronouns. I agree with her conclusions.
So what is the Christian to do when faced with someone who identifies as transgender?
It seems to me that, out of politeness, if someone changes his or her name, you can refer to that person by his or her preferred name. Names are somewhat subjective. But out of respect for truth, reality, and God’s creation, it is morally wrong to refer to a woman as a man or to a “she” as a “he” (or vice versa). To me, that would be a form of lying—of bearing false witness—and the Lord God has forbidden lying:
“You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another” (Lev 19:11).
Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds (Col 3:9).
God loves Mallory/Daniel. And God loves Grace Lavery. God loves, and Jesus died for every transgender person so that he or she can believe in Him and have everlasting life. Transgender issues are no barrier to believing in Jesus for eternal life. In that way, the transgender debate is a sort of litmus test for determining who truly believes in justification by faith, apart from works.
On the other hand, the transgender debate is also a litmus test about speaking the truth. Are we people of the truth, or not? We want transgender people to believe the saving message. Jesus’ promises are objectively true. If you do not believe, you are condemned already (John 3:18). That’s the reality. How you may feel about that does not determine how things really are. We want transgender people to know that we hold fast to the truth. This is not a game. Nor is this make-believe. If you’re ready to lie about someone’s pronouns, why wouldn’t you also lie about other things, such as the saving message?
You cannot lead people to the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6) by means of a lie.