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Dead-naming for Christians

Dead-naming is a term you may have heard relating to the “trans” community. Simply, it means “calling (a transgender person) by their birth name when they have changed their name as part of their gender transition.”[1] It is considered a very negative action toward that person as it reminds them of all that was left behind. It is taken by trans-gendered people to mean that you do not recognize or support the changes they have made. As Christians, how we handle this situation is difficult and requires much prayer to determine the will of God and the path God would have us take.

In the Bible we see that names can be very important and informative as to whom a person is. An example is found in John 1:42 when Jesus stated, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas (which when translated, is Peter [Rock]). Abram’s name was changed to Abraham Genesis 17:4); Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah in Daniel 1:6-7. Most of us are more familiar with the new names given in Daniel 1, Shadrack, Meschack and Abednego. Why the name changes? Why does it matter? In Daniel’s time, he and the three just mentioned were given new names by King Nebuchadnezzar’s chief to represent the evil religions there. Look at what their names meant: Shadrach means “command of the moon god” and referred to the cycle of womanhood (maiden, birth/mother (life) and crone (death), a triple goddess. Meshach means “Who is Aku?”a demonic devil creature. Abednego which means “slave of the god Nebo”, a pantheon of gods who write the fates.

By way of contrast, their God-given names were very opposite. Hananiah (Shadrach) means “God is gracious. Mishael (Meshach) means Who is God (Jehovah)? Azariah (Abednego) means God has helped. You will also remember that when the wicked king (Nebuchadnezzar) threw them in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3) the names of God prevailed and when they did, God was glorified and lifted up! Also, all including the king noticed as he said,”Look”(Daniel 3:25). When they looked they saw a fourth man with them, understood to be the Son of God.

How about us? As we respond and react to those in the world around us, who do they see accompanying us through our joys, sorrows and trials and relationships? Besides seeing Jesus in us, they should also see and understand something of our new names given to us at our new birth. What is, or are, your new name(s)? Names such as, pastor, teacher, evangelist, counselor, etc.(1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4). Of course our number one new name is simply Christian, “Christ one”. Ask if people around you observe your life, in your behavior, your words, and your attitudes, and are directed to Jesus.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is –His good and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2. What has changed in your life since being given a new name? How does that affect the relationships God is giving to you? Do live with a name that is alive or dead?

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