Mars Hill Forums #7 and #67 at the University of Rhode Island and Wesleyan University: Moral Schizophrenia and “Hate Language”

John C. Rankin

[excerpted and adapted  from First the Gospel, Then Politics …, 1999, Vol. 2, not published]

In a Mars Hill Forum at the University of Rhode Island, April, 1995, an avowed homosexual student challenged me stridently, and called me a “homophobe” because I did not agree with him. But as we talked in the public Q & A, and focused on his humanity not his homosexuality, he changed his attitude and expressed his deep thanks. But later in the evening he turned back to vitriol.

As I tried to process it, noting such a moral schizophrenia as I then termed it, I was seeking to learn why such a quick change occurred. Whereas in 1983 I deliberately got involved in pro-life ministry and politics, I never sought out the debate over homosexuality. It found me in the early 1990s as I was asked to address the subject rooted in the biblical ethics in Genesis where I put so much focus. Only later did I come to understand the roots of homosexuality in emotional pain due to violation, usually in a person’s youth. And emotions go up and down as people seek to find peace in the soul against various trials.

At a Mars Hill Forum at Wesleyan University, April of 2002, a homosexual man in drag tried to test me at this point. The topic at that juncture was the question of “homophobia,” a word coined in recent decades for the fear of or hatred toward homosexuals. But this charge against me found no traction. So he said that I must be a homophobe because I have private homosexual desires. I simply said “no” and moved on. He was crestfallen.

I think he was aware of the fact that many people who argue publicly against homosexuality do qualify for various of his definitions of “homophobia,” they might be hypocritical, and thus he wanted such hypocrisy exposed as a way to bolster his sense of self-esteem. He was hoping to discover such a tendency in me. An axe to grind that can only be answered in the cross.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).