Back to school time is here. Students are getting to know their teachers, and teachers are getting to know their students.

Just the other day, I heard of a class in which students were asked to share what’s their favorite food, sports team and color. Those same students were also asked to share their preferred pronouns.

If you were to go back just a few years, a question like that would make no sense. Today, talk about pronouns is everywhere.

“He/him,” “She/her” and even “They/Theirs”—young people are now asked what their gender is. The preferred-pronoun talk has gone far and wide in society. We see pronouns on employee name badges at stores, on social media bios; and yes, in students’ classrooms.

Much has been written and shared on this topic. Journalist and author Abigail Shrier addressed these issues in an important speech titled “Gender Ideology Run Amok.”

Shrier said, “In 2007, America had one pediatric gender clinic; today there are hundreds. Testosterone is readily available to adolescents from places like Planned Parenthood and Kaiser, often on a first visit—without even a therapist’s note. How did we get to this point? How is it that we are all supposed to pretend that the only way you can know I’m a woman is if I tell you my pronouns? How did we get to an America in which a 13-year-old in the State of Washington can begin ‘gender affirming’ therapy without her parents’ consent? How did we get to an America in which a 15-year-old in Oregon can undergo ‘top surgery’—elective double mastectomy—without her parents’ permission? And what can we do about it?”

I would encourage you to read her speech and ponder her analysis and solutions.

In Oklahoma, many are familiar with Laura Perry’s testimony. Laura, who struggled with her sexual identity growing up, spent nearly 10 years living as a transgender male, before God changed her heart, and she embraced her God-given sexuality as a woman.

Taking inspiration from Laura, Christians must find ways to deal with this increasingly pressing issue. To do so, we must remember, it’s ultimately not about an issue; it’s about people.

Jesus shows us how to deal with people in a personal basis—with love and truth. For example, look how He encountered Zacchaeus, the notorious town tax collector who swindled people out of money (Luke 19). No one loved Zacchaeus—except Jesus.

Jesus, though, did not just talk about Zacchaeus. He spoke directly to him. “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I just stay at your house today” (Luke 19:4). After that powerful moment with the Son of God, Zacchaeus repented, changed his life and made restitution to others.

In this example, as well as others (e.g. Nicodemus, the woman at the well), we learn from Jesus to love people and deal directly with them.

What’s interesting about this approach, if you are talking directly to someone, you don’t really ever use pronouns in the first place. You call them by name. That element alone holds a key understanding of the gender confusion.

We need to look past the pronouns, talk and see the person. Behind any gender confusion is a person who is almost certainly struggling, someone God loves and whom we also should love. It’s a person who needs the Gospel and also biblical truth delivered, all in a compassionate and redemptive way.

The next time you hear someone talk about their preferred pronouns, take that as your cue to see a person in need, not just an issue to be dealt with. Only when we see people like Jesus sees them will we be able to help a culture in crisis see its way back home—one person at a time.