Wannabe Creators & Rebellious Re-namers
Elon Musk, owner of Twitter, recently tweeted that “the words ‘cis’ and ‘cisgender’ are considered slurs on this platform.” Personally, I am relieved and thankful for his willingness to put a stop to the language nonsense we have had to endure the last several years. Yes, it is a small step. However, to quote Neil Armstrong’s immortal words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!” But we should pause and reflect on the action itself. Is it justified? After all, isn’t the use of such a word simply a matter of free speech?
Yes, it is. However, one might also argue that the C word is like the N word. It is not illegal to use the N word, but it is unkind. Now, the users of the C word may retaliate saying, “Cisgender is simply a word describing a person whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth! It is not a slur! It’s a descriptor! It’s not at all like the N word.” Yeah. So, in nothing less than the Huffington Post, Brynn Tannehill, says, “When someone is referred to as a "cisgender lesbian" or "cis gay man" by a transgender person, it is often in a negative way. The addition of "cis" or "cisgender" is used to imply a certain level of contempt and a desire that they leave discussions on transgender issues.” So, let’s not get caught up in the “it’s only a descriptor and not a slur” argument.
Instead, let’s stay with the rightness of Musk’s decision to identify the remark as a slur. Is he right? I think he is and here is why. We have all heard of the philosopher Plato, but I want us to think of a particular dialogue of his called the Cratylus. There Plato is asked about language. Specifically, he is asked if words are signs arbitrarily assigned or if there is some intrinsic relationship between the word and the thing signified by the word. Now, Plato does an interesting thing in this dialogue. He calls the giver of the names a lawgiver. The lawgiver can name and thereby use that name as “an instrument of teaching and a of distinguishing natures.” Thus, the connection here is at least one of authority.
Now, we might argue that Musk is the authority of his platform. He owns it and he can do whatsoever he desires with it. Jack Dorsey made his own rules or algorithms once and Musk could do it again. But I hope that Musk is not operating based on Progressive Democratic opinion. I don’t even want him operating on Republican opinion! My hope is that Musk is operating on something far more basic and consistent. I hope he is operating on common sense. In other words, it is common sensical that human beings are made to live and operate in this world.
Human beings fit with the world, and they fit with one another. A good example of this fitted-ness is sexual intimacy. Men and women in the structure of marriage can enjoy sexual intimacy with one another and procreate. The fit is real. But all this talk about pregnant men is nothing but pretend. It’s not real. If a “man” is pregnant it’s because a pregnant woman is pretending to be a man. It's that simple. That is the reality of it.
But this observation, common sensical as it is, presses us back to another layer. Musk may be wealthy, but he didn’t create anyone. Musk didn’t come up with men and women and fit them together in just the right way so that they could procreate, which means that there is another authority. God is that authority. God is the one who named them male and female (Gen. 1:26-28) and thus He distinguished them one from the other. God made two genders and only two. Nor can a man take the prerogative of God into his hands and decide to recreate himself into a woman. Obviously, the same holds true for women. Hopefully, Musk acknowledges this very truth. But in another sense, it doesn’t matter whether Musk does or not. Why?
Because God is God regardless of who acknowledges Him as such. The beautiful truth is that God rules this world through His mediatorial King, the Lord Jesus. What is more, God exalted His Son “above every name that is named” (Ephesians 1:21) because He has bestowed on Him the name that is above every name…” (Philippians 2:10). The result of this is that the person who attempts to rename and even recreate what God has created and named will come face to face the living and true Lawgiver. At that moment every knee, whether male or female, will bow. And then, it will be too late. Let me invite those of you wannabe creators and rebellious re-namers to think about what you are doing. It flies in the face of common sense. But even worse, infinitely worse, it flies in the face of the Lawgiver. Today is the day of salvation. Though you fancy yourselves creators, you cannot add a single minute to your life. Therefore, seize this day that has been given to you and repent.
Jeffrey A Stivason (Ph.D. Westminster Theological Seminary) is pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gibsonia, PA. He is also Professor of New Testament Studies at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA. Jeff is the Editorial Director of Ref21 and Place for Truth both online magazines of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.