Editor Kara Bettis Carvalho’s September cover story “Should I Offer My Pronouns?” asked how pastors and other Christian writers and leaders are approaching personal pronouns and how they balance loving their LGBTQ neighbors with holding a biblical sexual ethic.
Reader responses were many and varied. Some appreciated a “fantastic article on an increasingly important topic,” as a social media commenter user put it. “I’m thankful that Christian leaders are grappling with this issue in a respectful manner,” wrote Fran Geissler of Saratoga Springs, New York.
Some wondered why certain viewpoints were included as viable Christian approaches at all. “Using pronouns is to de facto use the semantics of a point of view that is untrue and unbiblical,” one Instagram user said. “We should respond by saying, ‘No,’ politely but firmly,” a reader added on X (Twitter). Others asked where people with intersex DNA or characteristics fit into the conversation.
A few readers shared their decisions to become accommodating with pronouns. Abigail Welborn from Jacksonville, Florida, said, “I realized it would make other people feel more comfortable in knowing how to address me, because people are worried about misgendering me.” And a Facebook user commented, “My two children are both transgender. When they came out, they insisted my husband and I use their new names and pronouns if we wished to continue having a relationship with them. We chose relationship.”
Despite the different views expressed, it was clear that everyone agreed about one thing: Words have power. And God calls us to use that power wisely.
I appreciated the depth and directness with which Kara Bettis Carvalho examined the debates among Christians about pronouns. I do feel that the feature had one serious flaw, in that it did not answer practical questions, particularly for those who do not believe in accommodating requests for pronouns. Is the need to refer to people without using their names taken into serious consideration? Are those against pronoun accommodation in favor of abolishing pronouns entirely? When they don’t know someone’s biological sex, do they simply guess? Do they recommend people ask friends and strangers to state their biological sex? I would love to know what sources recommend that people with gender-neutral names do when they decline to offer a pronoun and are referred to incorrectly.
When I was a kid, all the forms and such had a space that asked you whether you were “Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms.” (circle one). This isn’t that much different. Some people complained about the existence of Ms. back then, too.
In some languages, pronouns don’t clearly specify gender. In Chinese, [the word] ta sounds the exact same whether meaning he, she, or it. Other languages have arbitrarily gendered nonliving objects and animals. Gender reference in world languages is sometimes a confusing mess, so I appreciate that the point of this article is let’s take a deep breath and not jump too quickly.
I loved this story, and it prompted me to make you aware of a trust here in New Zealand that has accomplished something similar. Waidale Trust in Southland started in 1966 after a missionary shared that the church lacked the funds to send them to Papua New Guinea (PNG). Two farmers got to talking and came up with the idea of raising “extra stock” on their farms. The proceeds would be given to the missionaries when this extra stock went to the freezing works. Other farmers came on board, and Andrew and Margaret Dunn went to PNG. This was all in a season where farmers struggled to make ends meet. Waidale grew in its ability to support more and more ministry work. In 55 years, they’ve raised over $6.5 million for missions and have passed the vision down through three generations. The trust now owns farms and continues with the extra-stock model. It’s a great testimony of what God can do when one is willing to do what they can.
Auckland, New Zealand
NAIITS has a partnership with the seminary at [my] alma mater, and I know they are fully aligned with Scripture and provide a healing place for a lot of Indigenous people. Western/European culture has been intermingled with the way we worship God in so many ways that we may not even be conscious of it—like Christmas trees and Easter eggs. To assume that those traditions are good but any Indigenous traditions are bad is wrong.
There is a question that keeps bothering me as a white American and that is where do we white American Christians of wealth and power find ourselves in the pages of the Bible? I’ve read that Black Christians have been able to find themselves in practically the whole Bible, from slavery in Egypt through the Prophets and the New Testament redemption story. This is the assurance that backed up Martin Luther King Jr. I’m looking for myself in that same Word. Those with wealth and power always seem to be the oppressors, and I don’t want to be an oppressor.
John H. Scott
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