and Names in General
NCW 69: August 2000 - January 2001
Q. I've always been called "Johnny" by my friends because I was always a bit of a Tomboy (my real name is Cynthia). Is that OK?
A. No. The Bible is very strict about not confusing gender rôles. If it is a serious sin for a woman to dress like a man, or vice versa (Dt.22:5 - women's clothing should use finer material and have more colour, and she should use a head cloth - Is.3:22 - in addition to having long hair), then a person's name - which reflects her whole persona - is even more important than clothing. Women should have women's names, and men men's names. If you have been unfortunate enough to have been given a man's name as a girl (I knew one girl whose football-mad father named her after the eleven players of his favourite football team), or a woman's name as a boy (many Catholic men have been, and are, called "Maria" after the Virgin Mary) then as soon as you are legally able to do so, get those names changed, and even before then, never acknowledge them in conversation or otherwise.
Similarly, if you have been given one of those unisexual names - names which can be used by either a boy or a girl, such as "Hilary" - then I would recommend you consider getting that changed also.
And whilst nicknames aren't legal or official, and though you can't always do much about them, you can always disown them and refuse to talk to people who use them. In almost all the cases I know of girls are given nicknames like "Johnny", "Jack" or "Bill" because they are bisexual, lesbian or a bit Tomboyish. Sometimes they give the names to themselves because they are confused about their gender. Likewise, I knew a homosexual man who was nicknamed "Gloria" and a very effeminate man who was called "Betty".
Don't do this. Ever. Call people by names that reflect their gender even if they "accept" a name which is opposite to their gender. And do not acknowledge bisexual names that might make you out to be the gender you are not. All too often homosexuality and lesbianism start because cruel and unkind people nickname them with girls' and boys' names, respectively, and before they know it they're acting out this enforced identity until they become it. To be a part of that "game" is a gross sin. Yahweh has established our gender and we must remain with it. That includes using proper gender names.
All New Covenant Christians are, at some stage, given an "extra" name (called by us a "Firstborn Name") by inspiration which reflects both their true identity and to what they are aspiring. Nowadays people show very little care in naming their children and mostly give them names that "sound good", or because it's a name commonly used in the family, or (worst of all) because its the name of a pagan deity which they honour. Whilst we believe it is good to include family names as middle names to show family continuity, we imitate the biblical practice of naming children according to their calling or disposition.
A final note: do not change a name your parents have given you if that name does not compromise your gender just because you do not like it, because that is to dishonour your parents and to disobey a commandment. By all means add a name later if the Lord has given you one (remember how Yahweh changed Abram's and Jacob's names) but do it in such a way that will not dishonour your parents. Men should not change their surnames to that of their wives (because that undermines patriarchal authority) and wives should always incorporate their husband's surname to show proper patriarchal submission to him (we counsel a woman to retain her maiden name as a middle name after she has married so that she can continue to honour her father). The only possible exception to this rule would be in cases where a greater good is being accomplished, to avoid unnecessary persecution (e.g. in polygamous families or where a surname has acquired a very negative connotation in society like "Hitler", "Quisling" or "Stalin").
Alternatively, if you come from a culture where your surname is the first name of your father, as was the case biblically, then follow that custom. Make sure that in all matters of naming that you (a) honour the Lord, (b) honour the gender of the child, (c) honour patriarchal authority, and (d) honour both your parents.
This page was created on 22 January 2001
Last updated on 22 January 2001
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