I have a very specific question, if I may.
I am a speech-language pathologist and own an online communication business. I’m being suggested by my colleagues to expand my online gender field to more than just “male and female” to accommodate for example clients such as transgenders, that would be using my services. This goes against my faith and principles that we were created make and female in the image of God, but how can I convey this message with kindness and respect without hurting my colleagues, patients, but at the same time, defend my faith and Christian principles? Thank you!
I have a very specific question, if I may.
Hey Guy, thanks for this very practical question. We have all noticed the proliferation of third and fourth variously labelled boxes as options for the gender question on forms.
I too am a healthcare professional and I too own a business, so I have some idea of what your situation feels like.
It sounds like you already know the content of the answer you want to give, and you are asking for advice on the “how” of the delivery of that content.
I applaud you for not wanting to hurt your colleague or your patients by hitting them upside the head with the truth. That doesn’t mean that you can’t speak the truth. You should. But the truth is a double edged weapon, so it’s good to be careful with it rather than swing it around wildly. It sounds like you are already in touch with the fact that your goal in even bringing up this topic again with your colleague is to love that person well–maybe even get to love them into Christ’s Kingdom. And that’s not going to happen if you are just focused on winning the gender argument. So, I would go to your colleague and begin with curiosity:
“Hey man, I’ve been thinking a lot about that suggestion that you made about adding a third checkbox for gender on my online forms. Thanks for suggesting that. It got me thinking about some things… Hey I was wondering, were you suggesting that I do that because you want me to get more clients, or because you’re afraid that some people are afraid to us my services because I don’t have a third box, or because you’re afraid that I’ll offend someone if I don’t have a third box, or because I’m just old fashioned and need to get with the times, or… (a little self deprecation goes a long way to get people’s guard down). I really appreciate you trying to help me out by suggesting that. Help me understand. Is it one of those things that is driving you suggestion? Or more than one? Or something else?”
As long as you are friendly and genuinely curious and don’t sound like an Inquisitor, your friend will likely feel loved because you took to heart what they suggested, that you took the time to think about it, and that you are now taking the time to talk about it and are showing genuine curiosity in them. All those things, because they materially convey love and show your interest in this person, may be even more important than the content that you are about to deliver afterward about what you believe. You want your friend to walk away from that conversation thinking, “Man, Guy really thinks about things, and he took what I said to heart and really thought about it. And he was really curious about what I was thinking. I’m glad I brought that up with him. That was a cool discussion.” And not, “Man, I’m never gonna suggest anything to Guy again. He sure thinks about things, which means I just got my butt whooped in that argument, and now I feel kind of like an i***ot. I never meant for it to be an argument anyway. I’m just embarrassed…And Guy, I’m not sure I like him very much. Man, Christians sure can be jerks…”
After a curious intro like the above, keep up a friendly discussion, and I think you’ll find that you are able to say the things you want to say such as: “Well, I’m all about people being healthy, and I want my patients to be healthy and flourish, and it seems to me to be pretty clear that people flourish most when they know and live in their gender identity clearly as either a woman or a man, and are confident in it because God created people to be either a woman or man, and he gifted each of those genders in specific and beautiful ways, etc. etc.”
I don’t want to go on and on here, so I’ll stop, having, I think, given some idea of how to handle the “how” of the delivery. If I’ve missed the mark and you’re really looking more for the content of a defense of the biblical understanding of gender, then hit me back and I’ll try to be more clear on that. But, as I said and will now reiterate, I think the curiosity and demeanor with which you go to your colleague is actually MORE important than the content. But… go to the trouble to deliver good content too. Speak the truth in love bro!
Thank you so much for the answer! I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone in the healthcare field dealing with these issues. Yes, right now I’m engaged in a back and forth exchange of curiosity, but I feel that at some point, despite all the “niceness”, I’m going to have to position myself on the topic…this is where I’m struggling. Can I get sued if I decide to keep my form male and female? If there a “third option” I can provide that will not make me sound hypocrite? Thanks again!
I saw that Dr. Sean McDowell just wrote an article today about this topic—might be worth checking out!
Thanks a lot Matthew! I will check it out!
This is quite helpful!
Morgan Nix what’s up bro? Good to see you.
No I don’t think you can get sued for not having a third option. I spent 15 years as a prison doctor and believe me, the state of Virginia is not putting a third option for prisoners to choose from. They also don’t let men claim to change to being women so that they can be transferred to the women’s prison. If you want a non-committal third option that could keep you out of the line of fire but isn’t hypocritical you could put a box that says “choose not to answer.”
It’s fine to declare your position on the subject. Do so. But the voice with which you do that makes all the difference. Do you feel like you are not sure what statements to make or what questions to ask when you need to establish that position? I admit, its a tricky subject that cuts deep and needs a lot of care. I think I would ask my colleague why they think what they think. And where they got the idea. I would try to frame that in a way that felt curious to them. And I suspect that in the self examination of their own ideas they may find that they haven’t thought this through as clearly as they might have. It will likely give you an opening to tell why you think what you think and where you got it. You can use the Bible, but I don’t think you HAVE to on this subject (and your colleague may see the Bible as inadmissible evidence). You at least don’t have to start with it. But try to get to the gospel eventually, even if it’s not in that same conversation.
A link to talking about the Bible that I use all the time in health care circles is to talk about human flourishing–you’ll get a lot of buy in with those words. Then point out that the Bible is all about human flourishing and that while that idea is all the rage right now, the Bible has been talking about it for 3500 years and then I talk about the idea of Shalom–a fair translation for which would be human flourishing.
What about a “prefer not to answer” category? Or do you find doing that is also compromising and not standing up for your beliefs? I’m not sure, but I think it is important to try to reach people where they’re at when we can. Of course, following God and serving/pleasing Him is always most important.
Thank you very much Ty! You’ve certainly given me lots of food for thought. Yes, I guess I could add a “prefer not to answer” option after having a conversation with my colleagues that believe that different pronouns must be used and respected. Thanks a lot!
Def God first Karina, which includes loving all people and treating with kindness and respect. That’s the challenging part
Ty!! I loved your answer above! I imagine you have had quite a number of these kinds of talks and interactions. Hope you are well!
God bless you, brother, from one speech-language pathologist to another! Wow, what a challenging question. How to welcome those who identify as other than male or female and yet not compromise your expression of truth. What an opportunity to minister to those who may not know Jesus like we do. God bless you as you contemplate this challenge and may He grant you wisdom to know how to move forward within His will.
I work at the other end of the spectrum (hospital) so don’t deal with the business side of things. Again, bless you!
Thanks Tara! Great to see a sister SLP here! My God use you in your work place! I’ve worked 8 years in a hospital setting. Lots of opportunities to share the good news!