Mars Hill Forum #120 at Brown University: “Religion & Queer Sexuality” – Prepared Text, Panel Discussion, November 15, 2006
Original Prepared Comments by John Rankin[The forum, with myself and five pro-homosexual advocates, changed its topic not long before the event to a more subjective bent: click here. Below is what was ready to go before that change.]
When we consider the matter of sexual identity, are we proactive or reactive?
The power to be proactive assumes the confidence to address all matters of dispute from articulated positive assumptions.
To be reactive involves unhealed pains due to injustice suffered. This is true of any issue, no less for me than for anyone else.
The biblical order of creation is entirely positive in its assumption of trust between us, God and all people; then the introduction of sin, which is best defined as broken trust, introduces the negative; and then redemption in Jesus restores us to the original goodness of trust.
Thus, trust is proactive, and distrust is reactive.
In the context of human sexuality, my proactive assumption is chastity in preparation for possible marriage, and the goodness of man and woman in faithful marriage.
This assumption looks to the cultivation of trust between man and woman as equals and complements. As husband and wife maintain fidelity to God and one another, the preeminent social basis for trust is then modeled for their children.
In the Bible, the marriage of man and woman is rooted in trust, and any sexuality outside of marriage – heterosexual or homosexual – is rooted in broken trust. With specific respect to homosexuality, the law of Moses says no to homosexual acts, Jesus affirms marriage in the order of creation and came to fulfill the law of Moses, and the apostle Paul says no to homosexual acts.
At a deeper level than sexual identity, all people are created in God’s image and are to be treated with equal respect. I do not desire one inch of greater freedom to speak what I believe than the freedom I first honor for homosexual advocates to speak what they believe in my presence. And if a homosexual person were ever in any form of danger where I could intervene on his or her behalf, at risk to my own well-being, I would not hesitate.
On this proactive and redemptive basis, let me make the following observations, and I welcome your toughest questions in response:
- The world’s greatest social evils are rooted in “the chosen absence of the biological father,” whether physical or emotional in nature. This is true in contexts of children suffering through divorce, of women forced through an abortion by the chauvinism of irresponsible men, of men and women struggling with issues of homosexual identity or actions, the emerging soul-searching pain of the children of donor sperm, poverty in the ghettos of the United States where some seventy percent of black children grow up de facto fatherless, and in polygamous cultures where rival wives and sibling rivalries assault an honest possible presence of the father.
- When I was doing my post-graduate work in ethics and public policy at Harvard, three fellow students from my class in feminist ethics sat down with me at lunch one day. One of them introduced herself and, out of the blue, noted that the three of them were lesbian, and they every lesbian they knew had been the victim of “physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse” by some man in her early years. Rarely was it the biological father (a greater evil yet), but in his chosen absence, it was due to a live-in boyfriend to mom, another family relative or some other man who had access. This is not a statistical claim, but as an honest anecdote also attested by male homosexuals, it overwhelmed me. This is broken trust.
- When I shared this story before a packed Judiciary Committee hearing in the Connecticut legislature, the moans that went up from the same-sex marriage activists nearly drowned out my words. One woman later told me that such activists, mostly women, held their breath until I was done. Oscar Wilde once said that homosexuality is “a love that dares not speak its name.” This is no longer the case. But what I did before the Judiciary Committee was to speak a pain that dares not speak its name.
I can only do so by having first defined the proactive, as I have sought to do here again tonight. And I only have one agenda in place – for all of us, equally as image-bearers of God, to be freed from the pain and injustice of the reactive, whatever form it takes.
I do so as a minister of the Gospel, and for those who disagree with me, you are free to do so, and you remain a person worthy of the respect due all image-bearers of God. But if perchance these words resonate in the souls of anyone here, then you are likewise free to consider the nature of the Gospel, and pursue the proactive and its restoration.