What is your definition of discrimination? These days it may depend on how steady your nerves are.

At George Mason Univeristy, a guide for students defines discrimination as “jumping when a homosexual touches you on the arm.” It also includes “keeping a physical distance from someone because they are a known gay or lesbian.” Imagine campus administrators scurrying around with tape measures, unmasking the guilty who jump too high or stand too far away.

Most people dismiss stories like this as the latest campus silliness—no different from the goldfish-swallowing competitions of the thirties. Others chalk it up to overly sensitive campus officials fearful of offending anyone.

But political correctness is much more than sensitivity. It is a manifestation of a deep-rooted philosophical struggle, which Christians critically need to understand. Just as storms are moved by hidden upper-air currents, so cultures are steered by powerful, invisible philosophical currents. And a new current sweeping over our nation right now may alter the very character of American life.


College campuses are caught in a face-off between modern Enlightenment rationalism and postmodern relativism. The Enlightenment philosophers wanted all the benefits of Christianity without belief in God. By human rationality alone they hoped to discover universal truth and universal morality.

But no sooner were these ideas launched than they were shattered on the rocks of history. Each philosopher staked out his own vision of the True and the Good—only to have his stakes pulled up by succeeding philosophers offering competing visions. Finally, suspicion was cast on the very notion of rationality.

Gradually it became clear that no mere mortal can stand ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.