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A Stupid Question?

Every so often you get knocked sideways by a question you aren’t expecting.

This happened to me recently when on the phone to the NHS test and trace about a recent contact my daughter had. The conversation interrupted our normal crazy household and the lady on the other end was cheerful and polite as we went through her scripted questions together.

Then she asked the question that threw me:

‘What gender does your child identify as?’

What a stupid question.

Remember the context. This was a test and trace call following exposure to someone who tested positive for Coronavirus. If it is for reasons of medical research into the effects of Coronavirus on different genders then this is the wrong scientific question. I should have been asked, ‘What sex is on your child’s birth certificate?’ This would then allow people to answer in a way that would be both factually correct and medically useful.

If it is because this is the question that is ‘supposed’ to be asked in standard surveys, but we have to ask for the child to identify themselves because we don’t want to offend people, then phrasing the question this way does not prevent people from being offended, it merely spreads the potential offence around and simultaneously renders the question useless. Allowing people to self-identify their gender and recording it has as much scientific use in managing the spread of the virus as if they had asked for my child’s favourite colour!

The overt exposure of children to theories of gender ideology is not only unscientific, but harmful to children. But above all it is totally irrelevant for a test and trace call.

While we must be alert to the culture we are in, we must also be careful not to normalize aspects of our culture that are countercultural to the faith that we hold so dear. Our children are hearing language about gender fluidity all around them, they are also looking to us to guide them through this modern maze. If we keep quiet their views will be formed by those who have no fear of the Lord and no regard for his word.

Keeping quiet when we see something wrong is the easier option, but it is not the godly one. As the famous saying goes, ‘All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.’

This was the lesson Eli, the priest learnt in 1 Samuel 2. Eli’s children desecrated the sacrifices but Eli did not intervene to stop his children and preserve the holiness of the sacrifices. God sent a man of God to speak the truth to him without compromise and God confirmed his words to Samuel.

We need people who will speak up like the man of God spoke Eli. Perhaps it would be better to say we need to be people who will speak up like the man of God who spoke to Eli. The Lord will also speaking to confirm this through the next generation as he spoke through Samuel in a dream.

Let’s not accept the attempt to redefine the status quo of the world, but let’s be prepared to speak up for God’s truth even if it gets us in trouble. Many scholars would consider the Holy Spirit’s work through the church is what Paul is referring to when he speaks about the antichrist being restrained in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, ‘He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.’ Is this not part of our calling as we follow Paul’s injunctions in Ephesians 5 to walk in the light and redeem the time for the sake of those who don’t know God.

At the very least, our children need to see us taking a stand for God’s truth to help them navigate through the confusion of this world and the world needs us to act as salt and light in these days.

The Gospel of Jesus is not popular (narrow is the way of salvation) it is not a democracy (we live for God's glory) but it is truth. Jesus boldly declares, 'I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me.' This message clashed with the leaders of his day and the true church has always found itself at odds with the world's system. This takes courage, but at times the church has held to God's truth, all of society has benefited. So I’ve stuck my neck out and written to test and trace to suggest they amend the question. Let’s wait to see what they say.

UPDATE on 24/1/22:

Track & Trace contacted me in January over 50 days after I raised a complaint. Here is what they had to say:

Dear O. Goldenberg, Thank you for your submission to NHS Test and Trace in which you raised a formal complaint on 30 November 2021. I apologise for the delay in responding to you.

I would like to thank you for providing feedback following your daughter’s contact tracing call. I have checked the details of your call and I would like to apologise for the way the call agent phrased the question about gender. The wording of the script when completing the personal details section is: Which of the following is recorded on your medical record? Male/Female/Other-Not specified-I do not know

We understand that you might not identify with what is on your medical record. This helps us to understand how COVID-19 affects different groups of people. I have sent feedback to the relevant team leader to ensure the questions are asked accurately. This seems to me to be a much more reasonable approach in our current climate and highlights to me the importance of us all speaking up and challenging systems that go against the grain.


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