Should you use the preferred gender pronouns of your co-workers?

working in exile May 15, 2023

I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:22-23)

Today concludes our five-week series exploring biblical principles for working in environments that are increasingly hostile to the ways of the Lord. Today’s passage contains the final principle I want us to explore:

Principle #5: Christians are called to become all things to all people for the sake of the gospel.

One of the reasons why God has you working “outside the camp” is because it is through the work of mere Christians—not primarily pastors and religious professionals—that God will save the lost in our "post-Christian" context. But to make disciples at work you, like Paul, must “become all things to all people”—doing everything you can (other than sin) to build relationships with non-believers. 

This could look like having lunch with a different co-worker once a week to get to know your colleagues personally or following your office’s favorite sports team so you have something to talk about on Monday mornings. 

There are a million practical outworkings of this principle. But let me draw out one more—a controversial application that, if you haven’t already, you will certainly have a chance to practice soon.

Let’s pretend that a woman you work with shares that they’re now identifying as a man, and they ask that you start referring to them by the male pronouns “he/him.” As a Christian, you hold to a biblical stance that sexuality is defined by God alone (see Genesis 1:27 and Matthew 19:4-5). So, what do you do?

Some faithful Christians I respect argue that you should refuse to use your friend’s chosen pronouns, as doing so would give the appearance of condoning sin. But according to one of the more serious studies on this topic, one Christian researcher found that “None of my interviewees were inclined to interpret a…Christian’s pronoun hospitality as an automatic indication that this Christian agreed with everything about the way in which the trans person expressed their gender.”

Conversely, another expert has found that “people typically view using their pronouns and chosen name as a basic act of courtesy and respect that’s necessary for continuing relationship” (emphasis mine). 

With all that in view and with the principle of “becoming all things to all people…for the sake of the gospel” in mind, I would encourage you to practice “pronoun hospitality” in the workplace and use your friend’s chosen pronouns. 

Now, that doesn’t mean you never confront their sin! But I pray that we, like Jesus, would be relational first and confrontational second (see John 8:1-11), “so that by all possible means [we] might save some.”

My friend, I pray that this series has been incredibly encouraging and helpful to you. Your workplace is likely to become less and less friendly to the ways of Jesus. I pray these principles will help you be faithful to Christ and his mission as you work in exile.


50% Complete

Join 100,000+ Christians who receive my weekly devotional every Monday morning!