As the LGBT movement approaches its endgame of a U.S. Supreme Court decision redefining marriage for the nation, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the conservative response long derided as a “slippery slope argument” was less of a fallacy and more of a prophecy.
“If we redefine marriage to include same-sex couples,” the argument so often heard in the early 2000s went, “then soon we will be accepting group sex, pedophilia, incest, etc.” Proponents of same-sex “marriage” had little tolerance for this argument, labeling it “scare tactics” and those who made it “homophobic.”
Fast-forward 15 years, and it’s clear which prediction was right. Whether it’s polygamy, sexual relationships between relatives, polyamory, or even bestiality, a floodgate of new sexual “orientations” has opened up, each of them enjoying the eager support of avant-garde journalists and entertainers. The coverage of this diverse collection of sexual preferences follows a familiar path blazed decades ago by LGBT activists and laid out in books like Marshall Kirk’s and Hunter Madsen’s After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90s.
The plan these authors proposed back in the late 1980s was simple: cut back on the in-your-face gay-pride parades, and reintroduce homosexuality to Americans in a sympathetic light. By portraying gay characters as funny and likeable in sit-coms and profiling their plight in major news publications, these authors said, activists could slowly overcome the majority’s longstanding aversion toward same-sex relationships. And above all, wrote Hunter and Madsen, self-identified homosexuals must be portrayed in news and entertainment as suffering discrimination for the way they were born.
“The public should be persuaded that gays are victims of circumstance,” they wrote. “For all practical purposes, gays should be considered to have been ‘born gay’ — even though sexual orientation, for most humans, seems to be the product of a complex interaction between innate predispositions and environmental factors.”
This campaign eventually boiled down to a persuasive argument, phrased as a question that became a virtual motto for social progressives: “Why do you want to keep me from being happy just because my sexual orientation is different from yours? What harm am I doing you by loving (and marrying) whomever I choose?”
But as Christians and defenders of traditional marriage pointed out years ago, this argument justifies much more than same-sex relationships. In fact, it justifies any consensual sexual relations whatsoever. And in spite of those who confidently dismissed this as a slippery slope fallacy, in 2015 we find our culture descending that slope more rapidly than even the most conservative imagined.
Take polygamy. Barely 10 years ago, suggestions that America would legislate so-called “plural marriage” would have been met with laughter. Today, those following the After the Ball strategy are well on their way to winning cultural acceptance for polygamy. Reality shows like Sister Wives and other positive portrayals of the practice have led news outlets and millions of Americans to begin asking: Why not? The argument rarely changes: “Who are you to tell polygamists they can’t love and marry whomever they choose?”
The same can be said of polyamory, or taking multiple lovers simultaneously. Although not illegal, the practice has vocal cultural defenders, and this year has already won glowing profiles in major news publications.
“[P]olyamorous people face real discrimination,” Miju Han, a self-identified polyamorist from San Francisco, told CNN. Han, whose lovers include a male fiancée, two other “boyfriends,” and a lesbian relationship, looks forward to maintaining an “open marriage,” a new arrangement winning increasing acceptance with Americans.
This month New York Magazine ran a cheerful interview with one Great Lakes woman, 18, who describes her sexual relationship with her father, and how excited she is to marry him. Her response to detractors sounds all too familiar:
“Incest has been around as long as humans have. Everybody just needs to deal with it as long as nobody is getting hurt or getting pressured or forced. I just don’t understand why I’m judged for being happy.”
And not to leave out any orientation, the same magazine ran an interview two months prior with a man who “dates” horses.
Interviews don’t equal laws, of course. But as the 20-year-long battle over same-sex “marriage” has shown, laws start with the American public. It’s no coincidence that the Supreme Court looks poised to redefine marriage for all 50 states just as polls indicate that 55 percent of Americans support same-sex unions. And the same court may soon hear cases involving what almost all Americans once considered unthinkable.
What are Christians to make of it all? One takeaway is that we’re no longer living in the America of yesteryear. The United States is becoming a picture of Romans chapter 1, in which Paul describes a people who “suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness,” “worship the creation rather than the Creator,” and “degrade their bodies with one another.” As several commentators have pointed out, that means the task of defending “Christian America” is over. We are now missionaries in a foreign land, seeking to rebuild a culture in which the Gospel restores brokenness to virtue.
But secondly, the results of this “slippery slope” should bring to mind the Apostle Paul’s rallying cry in 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We demolish argument and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
As with nations and cultures, individuals often find themselves moving from minor compromises and seemingly reasonable arguments to overt rebellion and brokenness. “Pandora’s box” arguments are all around us, ready to launch anyone who accepts them on a slippery ride to destruction. Don’t open them.