Slippery Slopes

caution-slippery-slopeSo today’s topic…skiing? A sweaty pair of 36DD’s? Hilly streets that my piece of shit little Sentra can’t climb after a good snowstorm?

Nah, just going to talk about those proverbial slippery slopes where one thing “inevitably” leads to another.

I’ve been thinking about slippery slopes a lot because plenty of people are still talking about the passage of Proposition 8 in California, or Barack Obama’s decision to let pastor Rick Warren (who doesn’t anything nice to say about homosexual marriage) give the invocation at his inauguration. And because these things are being talked about on the blogs and elsewhere, myself and plenty of others have to address the real or perceived slippery slopes on both sides of the issue.

Mind you, I believe there are times in life where you have to draw a line, lest people walk en masse right down a treacherous slope. Don’t get me wrong. But in the end, I find the whole “slippery slope” concept to typically be questionable and often laughable. I mean, wasn’t our failed War on Drugs, which I believe Ronald Reagan initiated (and which still puts too many people in prison for too long for no good reason) founded on the idea that we needed to stop those drugs before little Timmy got a taste of pot and then went on to snort coke and then inevitably to shoot up heroin and then steal all the family’s belongings and perhaps rape his little sister Susie too? And haven’t we waged many a war on the idea that if we don’t stop [insert political system/ideology/group of your choice] here, it will spread everywhere, even to our own borders?

So, let’s talk about some of those slippery slopes that Christians get so bent out of shape about and why I’m sick to death of groups of Christians who raise up their standards and march off on an ideological war to put some grit on those slopes or, better yet, blow up the whole hill so no one slides into depravity.

Homosexual marriages. Because you know, we all know if we allow gays and lesbians to marry, next it will be the polygamists demanding their rights and then the incest-lovers, and then the pedophiles, and finally the people who are into bestiality and want to marry Fluffy. I mean, how can I argue with logic like that, right? Because people who commit incest just really want everyone to know, and there are soooo many of them. And of course, we’ll just forget about age of consent and maturity issues and abuse concerns and just let folks marry kids, right? Look, the only reasonable expectation in that list is that maybe, just maybe, polygamists will want their say. Well, let’s deal with that bridge then, eh? And let’s remember that multiple partners is a whole different issue than homosexuality with many more potential societal complications.

Abortion. Ever since Roe v. Wade, we’ve been on a Crisco-greased slide to murdering our babies, right? I mean, any day now, it will be legal to kill your full-term baby in the womb or on its way out the birth canal if you have second thoughts at the very end. In fact, we’re just around the corner from six-day “lemon laws” that will allow you to bring a baby back to the hospital to have it euthanized if you find it cramps your style too much. Give me a freakin’ break. No, I’m not a fan of abortion. And I know late-term and “partial bith” abortions are particularly gruesome thoughts for many people, myself included. But they do have a place for some people in the secular world, as much as my Christian soul doesn’t like it. Such practices are performed rarely and usually for very specific reasons, yet they are often wrapped up by zealous Christians in a package that suggests (a) the mothers are all irresponsibly doing this and loving it and (b) that somehow a viable, kicking screaming crying baby is being yanked out of a woman and hacked to pieces. To make a strong case, the truth is buried under a lot of visceral and bloody hype by many in Christian circles. And why not? It sure makes the slippery slope argument seem more logical, doesn’t it, so that you can go back and argue that any abortion should be illegal, right?

I’m not going to continue any more of that. You get my point. Slippery slopes are often overstated by Christians who wish to force their ethics into the law books for everyone else to follow.

But instead of decrying the illogic of some of the slippery slope mindsets, how about we imagine a world where Christians continue to have the kind of success they did with Proposition 8 in California, and imagine some of the slippery slopes for those successes?

OK, so we outlaw homosexual marriage. Now what? Hey, you know, let’s make it illegal not to have kids if you’re married. Or, maybe we prevent infertile people from marrying because, like gays, they can’t be fruitful and multiply. Or maybe we should allow a spouse to instantly and without recourse divorce the other spouse if that spouse is unable to provide a child. And hey, since we’re already at the bedroom door, let’s criminalize adultery. Or outlaw blowjobs and anal sex.

Or, let’s say abortion gets outlawed. Great! OK, so do we allow it in cases where the life of the mother is in danger? No? OK. Well, what if there are multiple kids in the womb and one kid is putting all the others in danger and removing that fetus, which might have minimal chance of survival anyway, will save two or more others? No? Or, maybe if a child is already dead in the womb we should remove it? No? Oh, yeah, because maybe there will be a miracle that causes it to return to life. Hey, and while we’re at it, let’s outlaw birth control methods, because aren’t they really just the same as abortion? And same for masturbation, too.

“But,” say the fellow Christians I’ve just offended, “those are ridiculous! Some of those assumptions would never happen. And we wouldn’t want them to nor would society in general!”

So, maybe you see my point now.

I’m not saying that Christians shouldn’t engage in causes in which they fervently believe. What I am saying is that the temptation to justify it by being so arrogant as to say “We know where this will lead” instead of simply focusing on the act itself that repulses you, is the kind of thing we cannot afford.

Nor, by the way, can we simply say “the Bible says so, and that’s why it must be outlawed.” This isn’t a Christian nation; only a nation where Christianity is the largest religious bloc. Our laws must be based on the societal good and on secular foundations, not religious ones. To argue that something should be prohibited by law, you must be able to provide a real argument as to why your way is the better way for society.

Because as often as I’ve read the New Testament, I still haven’t found that part where Jesus, the apostles or any early church leaders said, “Yeah, it sure would be cool if we forced Christianity on everyone else at the point of a sword…or under weight of law.”


10 Responses to “Slippery Slopes”

  1. December 22, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Damn Deacon

    You keep this up and Im gonna have to call you brotha(oops I mean brother) 😉

    Me thinketh you may have some secular blood still in you. Hallelujah!

  2. 2 Deacon Blue
    December 22, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Of course I have secular blood…it goes along with the shameful, carnal body I have to truck around until my immortal soul is loosed into Heaven. 😉

    Thing is, much like I think critical thinking and faith can (and should) co-exist, I also think that believing in secular values and believing in spiritual ones is not only possible, but necessary. We aren’t to be OF the world when we are born again, but we have to be IN the world.

    Jesus didn’t come to create a foundation for theocracies, despite what so many on the rabid end of the spectrum believe. There is, after all, only ONE theocracy, and it’s based in Heaven. Everything else is bureaucracy. 😛

  3. December 24, 2008 at 9:52 am

    You should get a little traffic on this post from the field negro site. Field posted about legalizing marijuana, and a woman dropped by with the “slippery slope” argument. To keep from clogging his comments (and making a long comment even longer), I provided a link to this post.

    I remember taking a law class during my undergraduate studies back in the mid-90’s. The class was broken into pairs for a series of debates. The instructor quickly taught us the buzz word “slippery slope” as a useful strategy for supporting an argument. You’re the first person I’ve seen to challenge the idea, and I attached to your position hook-line-and-sinker.

    The whole “well what’s next?” is a potent detractor from the real issue and can kill some debates altogether. Not a good thing… And although I still believe there are appropriate times to deploy the S.S. argument, I suspect the appropriate times aren’t NEARLY as often as folks throw the term around.

  4. 4 Deacon Blue
    December 24, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Yeah, it’s kind of like diagnosing ADHD/prescribing Ritalin or using the words “paradigm shift”…they are legitimate things and have their place, but they have been overused to the point of abuse

  5. December 27, 2008 at 11:23 am

    [quote]But they do have a place for some people in the secular world, as much as my Christian soul doesn’t like it[/quote]

    [quote] Slippery slopes are often overstated by Christians who wish to force their ethics into the law books for everyone else to follow.

    But instead of decrying the illogic of some of the slippery slope mindsets, how about we imagine a world where Christians continue to have the kind of success they did with Proposition 8 in California, and imagine some of the slippery slopes for those successes?


    Deacon Blue:

    You seem to spend an inordinate amount of time focused on INSPECTING the “Christian position” for its sanity. What you need to do is extend this scope of inspection to the other side of the equation.

    You say “YOU don’t like Abortions”……but they do have their place in the ‘secular world’ (or at minimum the late term abortion variety of them). I fail to see your rationale. You are a self-described Christian yet you seem to ask Christians to withdraw from their imposition of certain beliefs into the secular law books. This shows a bit of abstract intellectualization on your part.

    The fact of the matter is that Christians and any other religious order that worship in the United States do so because of the provisions in these same laws that protect our right to do so without suppression by the government.

    Even still – I challenge you to step beyond the mere question of Christian consideration of certain traditions. Focus instead on the FUNCTION of these things. It is clear to me that the FUNCTION of heterosexual marriage is to give a strong measure of order and purpose to all parties involved in the agreement. In as much as a society loses its way in the promotion of the FUNCTION of marriage they will begin to entertain alternative and competing forms of formalized adult relationships.

    Prop 8 was no “victory” for Christians. Not in the least. My prediction is that within 20 years this will be reversed as Cali and this entire nation loses its vision on the FUNCTION of traditional marriage.

    The battle between those who seek to protect the bricks that exist in the foundation versus those who only need to erode the integrity of the foundation one speck of brick dust at a time has a destiny that is all too clear.

  6. 6 Deacon Blue
    December 27, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Constructive Feedback,

    Admittedly, I’m operating on only a few hours sleep, but I’m pretty sure I get most of your jist, and thanks for sharing (I know I’ve gone head to head with a couple times in other blogs in the past, but I appreciated this reasoned comment here).

    I would say, though, that is isn’t always clear what action are “erosive” and which are “fluid,” if you get my drift.

    That is, there are always things that ebb and flow in human consciousness (age of maturity, acceptance of homosexual relationships, the relationship between religion and government, etc.). Is the extension of marriage rights to same-genders couples truly a blow to the foundation of marriage? Or a logical and necessary shift in mindset?

    What about heterosexual people who marry and have no intention of ever having children? Is that inherently erosive to the concept and foundation of what a marriage is for? And if not, why not?

    I know a gay couple that is raising a little girl they adopted directly from the birth mother. They are a fantastic couple and fantastic parents. I would stack them up against most heterosexual parents that I know and put them higher on ratings chart than the majority of them. So, why can’t they, as a committed couple raising a child to be a productive member of society, enjoy marriage.

    I would argue that by and large, we haven’t defined marriage WELL ENOUGH. It is, in fact, a rather slipshod thing right now defintionally. If we are going to clamp down on who can marry, I think we need a better definition of what marriage is, beyond “one man, one woman”…because that doesn’t say much.

  7. December 29, 2008 at 11:03 am

    [quote]Is the extension of marriage rights to same-genders couples truly a blow to the foundation of marriage?[/quote]

    There is no “COMPETITION” going on here.
    There is an attempt to apply and maintain ORDER within this society.

    I just watched an excellent documentary on the History Channel about the establishment of the society and religions in the Middle East. In this relatively small area of the Earth there lived thousands of people, each with their own provincial interests. Though centuries of wars and anhelation certain standard concepts of order started to prevail upon which more stable societies were built.

    I am truly puzzled to know if some people believe that our society is the first one to struggle with the concept of homosexuality. The fact is – we are not. The basic nature of man never changes only his material and technological condition changes. Yesterday’s concubine is today’s Porn DVD with 2 months free access to the web portal.

    I reject having the prime analysis of the issue based on someone’s RIGHTS. Roughly translated this is nothing more than “THE WILL OF MAN”. The will of man is negotiable over time. Even when this will is seen to violate the obvious physiological construct of the human form and function – those who promote the RIGHTS argument will yield to the violation of such.

    It appears that much of the ideological debate comes down to ones outlook.
    *Some people focus on protecting the MAJORITY where disorder comes from a small infestation and grows
    *Some people focus on protecting the MINORITY from the MAJORITY’s will and thus this minority is not trampled as such.

    I choose to be a “cultural conservator”. What has worked for us as a human culture for several millennia has proven itself worthy as a base line foundation to order our society upon. With certain issues being settled this majority has been allowed to build up great societies – the foundation intact.

  8. 8 Deacon Blue
    December 29, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Again, I understand your logic.

    But let’s take, for example, slavery.

    It has gone through permutations and variations and levels of acceptance.

    It is vastly reduced in today’s day and age, but it still exists in places, both overtly and in thinly disguised forms.

    In a sense, slavery has been a fundamental part of many cultures. One could argue that it has many practical aspects.

    That doesn’t make it any less wrong.

    I don’t say this to compare same-sex marriage to slavery directly. That would be as incorrect as trying to link homosexual struggles to the Civil Rights Movement.

    My point is that society isn’t what it once was.

    Marriage, as an institution, changed drastically in the past few centuries.

    Marriage for the sake of love is still a relatively recent addition historically speaking when you look at civilization over the long haul.

    Even in more “enlightened” times from, say, the Renaissance to maybe the 1800s, marriage was often more about practicality than love or dreams or anything else. Arranged marriages, marriages of convenience, mail order marriages, etc.

    Today’s marriage is NOT the marriage on those times, nor the marriage even of much of the 20th century (at least the first half of it).

    Given the way that marriage is practiced and defined (such as it is) in modern America and much of the first world, it is illogical to argue that same-gendered people should not be allowed to marry.

    We are holding these consenting, productive adults to a different standard solely because of gender. We don’t require heterosexual couples to reproduce or raise children. We simply say, “Hey, you got married, now you get rights and status that correspond to being married.”

    If you are going to be a cultural convervator, then you need to be working to outlaw or severely limit divorce options in this country and to require marriages to work toward building the population or raising up children who need parents. Because in the grand historical scheme, marriage is NOT about joining two hearts but about building families, legacies, descendants, workers, etc.

    I’m not arguing for same-sex marriage because I agree with homosexuality. As a hetero guy who cannot really conceive how another guy could like guy parts that weren’t his own, I don’t personally “get” homosexuality. As a Christian, I am told via the Bible that God doesn’t appreciate the act of same-sex relations (certainly not for men, that’s for sure). So in that sense, I have to see it as a sin along with fornication and others.

    But as a citizen of the United States looking logically at where we have collectively decided to define modern marriage, as a union of love, I can see no compelling reason why two consenting, tax-paying, upstanding members of the same gender cannot get married.

  9. December 30, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Well… I said that my comment at field’s spot might drive some traffic here. Funny how Constructive Feedback was the only car to make the trip. LOL j/k

    I enjoyed reading this debate as a fly on the wall.

    Slightly off topic, I appreciate C.F.’s statement to take a look at “function.” Many times, Christians get caught in arguments over the Bible and God’s commandments because “function” never enters the discussion.

    Yeah, God provided a commandment about lying, but that commandment is backed by a productive function that Christians and non-Christians can agree upon. Same with adultery, murder, etc.

  10. 10 Deacon Blue
    December 30, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    I agree that ignoring functional issues can be a stumbling block almost as big as that of faith itself.

    And CF, truly, thanks for your comments. I’ve given you plenty of shit in the past, but I do realize that you have some good things to say.

    And Hawa, you can be a fly on the wall or an active participant any day of the week. Always happy to have you here, even when I don’t know you’re here.

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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