The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) defines itself as the entity that “serves as the chief human resources agency and personnel policy manager for the Federal Government,” but this is misleading. In light of the policies it manages, it would be more appropriately titled chief “enforcer” rather than the manager of federal policy.
For example, I found the following passage in the document, “U.S. OPM Guidance Regarding Gender Identity and Inclusion in the Federal Workplace” posted on the OPM website:
Executive Order 14035 on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce states that “each Federal employee should be able to openly express their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression and have these identities affirmed and respected without fear of discrimination, retribution, or disadvantage, and it directs Federal agencies, to the extent permitted by law, to take actions to ensure that all Federal employees have their respective gender identities accurately reflected and identified in the workplace.”
The DEI language is now common enough to seem blase, no more of an attention grabber than a news report about increases in the fruit fly population in Delaware. But the magnitude of importance is more like the news that a fleet of Chinese aircraft carriers is sailing off the coast of Delaware.
The idea that gender is distinct from biological sex and can therefore be determined by individual choice is a metaphysical concept. It’s as much a religious belief as reincarnation or the Trinity, and as with all such beliefs, all Americans do not share them.
The unnerving point in the cited executive order is that it says not only that belief in gender identity and expression should be respected, but that Federal employees should be able to openly express their sexual orientation and gender identity “and have these identities affirmed.” This raises ominous questions about the status of the many Americans who do not affirm these beliefs? There are plenty of historical examples of governments who tried to coerce their citizens to accept or reject certain ideologies about God and morality. It has never ended well.
Hypothetically replacing gender ideology with another belief puts the problem in clear light. It is not hard to imagine the outrage that would follow if a government HR agency released a statement declaring that all employees are expected to respect and affirm the belief that sex is a sacred gift from God intended only for marriage between one man and one woman. Christians and Jews believe this to be true and hope others will affirm it, but we also know that it is not the government’s job to force affirmation of this belief or its opposite. We should “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s,” while remembering that beliefs about sexual morality and gender identity should never be under Caesar’s command.
Mike Mitchell holds an MA in theological studies from Asbury Seminary and a PhD in theology from Liverpool Hope University. He lives in the Mountain West with his wife and their five children. Mike also regularly writes for his Substack page at mitchell435.substack.com.