Merriam-Webster announced “they” as their Word of the Year. The word increased 313% in 2019 over the previous year. The pronoun “they” may now be used as a singular pronoun. Merriam-Webster explained that “they” should be used for individuals who are “gender-nonconforming” or “nonbinary” and prefer the plural pronoun to refer to themselves, instead of “he” or “she.”
The company maintains it is important to use the correct pronouns in communicating with nonbinary individuals. “They” as a singular pronoun is needed because English lacks a gender-neutral singular pronoun “to correspond neatly with pronouns like ‘everyone,’ ‘someone’ and ‘anyone.'” For example, “No one has to come if they don’t want to.”
Merriam-Webster’s choice of “they” is a surrender to “gender ideology” which maintains there are multiple genders rather than two sexes. Persons are able to shift from one sex to become the other. Gender is understood as an internal sense of identity, rather than a biological reality. As a result, more individuals and groups are demanding a change in language.
Several years ago, when a transgender person was Time’s person of the year, society was suddenly confronted with the quandary of “I am a woman trapped in a man’s body.” These radical changes in human identity and behavior are already in the mainstream of culture. To oppose this evolution is to be accused of “hate speech.” For example, in New York City you can be fined for not using a person’s preferred pronouns.
George Orwell wrote of political groups and activists revising language to change the way we think about ideas and even reality, conditioning people to believe a lie. Orwell said in “1984,” “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears.” Scripture warns us about believing a lie. “So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies. Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth (II Thess. 2:11 NLT).
The redefining of “they” will only produce more confusion. Orwell talked of “Newspeak” as a means of controlling the categories in which people think and “Doublespeak” as holding two contradictory concepts and then accepting both. This is happening today.
Men, I have been convicted of living a lie, when I believe “gender ideology” to be a lie, yet remain silent as if to be giving consent. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has called us to “live not by lies.” By this he meant, “accepting without protest all the falsehoods and propaganda that the state compelled its citizens to affirm – or at least not to oppose – to get along peaceably under totalitarianism.”
When tempted to believe a lie, do the following: First, live surrendered to Jesus. He will keep you free from captivity to cultural lies. “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Celebrate your freedom in humility and servanthood to those captive to lies.
Secondly, continually cry out for discernment. Jesus warns us, “So be on our guard; I have told you everything ahead of time” ( Mark 13:23). This we know: Jesus is Lord of history; We have his Word; He has given us His Spirit (the Spirit of truth); and we are part of the body of Christ. We have a firm place to stand.
Thirdly, remember Jesus words, “Be as shrewd as a snake, inoffensive as a dove” (Matt 10:16 MSG). We must be vigilant at all times, practicing His presence. Don’t take time off.
Fourthly, above all, practice the admonition of Isaiah 2:5, “let us walk in the light of the Lord.” The father of lies works best in darkness. We live as “warriors of the light.”