California's Preferred Pronouns Are Free/Speech

July 22, 2021

There was no "he said, she said" in the unanimous decision issued by California's Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The three-judge panel unanimously ruled that a law requiring nursing home staff to address residents by their preferred pronouns violated free speech. The opinion calls the provision a "content-based restriction on speech," that permits some viewpoints while suppressing others. A California state court unanimously defeating such a draconian transgender mandate gives powerful evidence that liberty may not be quite dead out on the Left coast. The law was uniquely egregious because of its enforcement. Repeat offenders could face criminal charges and fines as high as $1,000 or up to a year in prison.

This law is a case study in the progressive isolation of California. California State Senator Scott Wiener, who authored the bill, was genuinely surprised when the bill drew criticism from Christian groups, apparently unaware that anyone would find it objectionable. Even though it had been cleared for passage in the state legislature, where Democrats hold supermajorities in both houses, Wiener withdrew the bill and met with its critics. Evidently, he found their arguments unconvincing and reintroduced the bill in 2017. It passed the California Assembly 55-19 and the California Senate 27-12.

To Leftists, there is no reason against using someone's preferred pronouns. They deny absolute truth, maintaining each person determines the truth for himself. From this perspective, it is unacceptable to foist your personal beliefs about truth on someone else; refusing to identify someone by that person's preferred pronouns is a manifestation of stubborn intolerance. Doing so becomes a just target for outrage, cancellation, and ostracism. This perspective is wrong. It collapses upon its own standards. When such relativists accuse others of intolerance based on their own personal understanding of truth, they commit the same error they are condemning.

Christians must not play by the Left's rulebook. We know absolute truth because God has revealed it to us. This truth, external to us, does not change to meet our whims or any other's. That Word reveals that God made man in his image, male and female. We represent something of God's character to one another in our biological sex. If we attempt to alter our gender, pretend to alter it, or acquiesce to another pretended alteration, we stand opposed to the truth found in God's Word and are essentially lying. Without even considering others, this should cause us to fear for our souls.

We should consider others, however; each person is valuable because he or she is made in God's image. In fact, God commands us to love others, and insists that loving other people is evidence that we truly love God. Is it loving someone who identifies as transgender to use their preferred pronouns? The world certainly tells us so. But loving someone is about seeking their ultimate good, not their momentary gratification. Every person's ultimate need is forgiveness of their sins and reconciliation with God. Christians love non-Christians by telling them about this good God. Participating in someone's pronoun farce leads that person away from the truth and is therefore unloving.

We must not compromise the truth even when the world labels that truth as "offensive" and "intolerant." We must pray for wisdom and grace in sharing God's design for sexuality. But as our culture drowns in half-tolerance, we ought to remember that insisting on God's truth is loving, not arrogant.

The pronoun wars will escalate further. The law's sponsor is urging California to appeal. Teachers in Virginia, Florida, and Ohio have faced punishment for using the "wrong" pronouns. The Chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is forcing this pronoun mandate on businesses nationwide. Each Christian must answer this question: who do you fear more, God or man?