Transgender ideology is rapidly entering our culture and influencing language in a very concrete ways. Many public employees across the U.S. are already being instructed to use proper pronouns in an official capacity. As this topic becomes more and more relevant in the workplace, Bruce Ashford, Dean of the Faculty at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, shared how this is going to impact religious liberty.

“There are now politically correct codes being put in place and enforced. Unfortunately it threatens the livelihood of public employees who want to respect people’s gender dysphoria and care for them, but want to not use pronouns that are antithetical to what Scripture teaches.”

“The Constitution says that religious liberty is the free exercise of religion. It’s not just the freedom to worship God privately, have private beliefs, and whisper about it in our homes in our churches; it is that we’re allowed to exercise it in public. Part of that exercise is to speak freely about it.”

It’s interesting and frightening how we’ve learned that free speech is both the freedom to say something, and the freedom not to say anything. Just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego should not have been forced to bow down, we should not be forced to speak that which goes against our beliefs. Bruce says this could be bad for more than just Christians.

“It won’t go well for Christians, but honestly it won’t go well for anybody. When we shut down speech we encourage hypocrisy, and when we encourage hypocrisy we don’t know who people are, and then we can’t persuade them.”

“It undermines social progress. Social progress often depends on free speech and on courageous people speaking up with unpopular ideas, persuading other Americans toward those ideas. Suppression of free speech tilts in an authoritarian direction. The more control we give to the state to tell us what we can and can’t do, can and can’t say, the less democratic we become.”

If the trend continues Christians will be less free to preach the gospel. We’ve seen in the U.K. and in Canada pastors who were put in jail briefly for preaching the gospel in relation to gender and sexuality. It’s a serious issue. It’s not just a matter of a few pronouns said out of respect, it strikes really at the heart of our first freedom.”

We want to love those who want us to use proper pronouns, but how can we begin to understand a conversation with a transgender neighbor or coworker?

“Interestingly enough my wife and I just this past week outlined how we want to begin teaching our children about this. We’re starting with a positive exposition of what the Bible teaches about God’s design for the world. Marriage being between a man and a woman, and that God created people as man and as woman that we can’t change those things. That’s a gift from God. Then after that we’re going to move to teaching them that there are people who disagree with us and who live differently.”

“So we want to start with a positive exposition from the Bible and then after that put it in context with what other people believe. We’re teaching our children to love and respect the person with whom they disagree, while at the same time being willing to not be pressured into believing what we ought not believe.”

While this is only a warning flag with the worst possible outcome in mind, it is important to recognize that our values and beliefs are going to continue to be questioned, as they have been for centuries. What we ought remember is that transgender individuals are God’s children as well. We should respect them, show God’s love to them, but stand firm in our faith.


Bruce Ashford is the Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of Letters to an American Christian, One Nation Under God, Every Square Inch, and other books.

Bruce Ashford - The Dangers of Proper Pronouns

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