The Slippery Slope Emerges
Dr. James Emery WhiteJames Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; President of Serious Times, a ministry which explores the intersection of faith and culture (www.serioustimes.org); and ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture on the Charlotte campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. White holds the B.S., M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees, along with additional work at Vanderbilt University and Oxford University. He is the author of over a dozen books.
- 2012 Sep 13
One of the more common phrases in relation to culture is the “slippery slope.”
The idea is a simple one: if you take one step on to a slippery slope, you may find yourself sliding all the way down the hill. Culturally, it means that if you rationalize doing something from a particular philosophy or set of values, you may want to consider how that same rationale might apply to other, less popular, concerns.
In other words, you may find that you have opened a Pandora’s Box of applications that will usher in things you never dreamed of, but can’t denounce. Why? Because the basis of its acceptance is the same as that which you used to argue for what you have introduced.
For example, many would contend that the arguments for late-term abortion lead to similar arguments for infanticide, and arguments for infanticide lead to similar arguments for euthanasia, and arguments for euthanasia lead to…well, you get the point.
The moral, of course, is to not start down a slippery slope.
Which bring us to the public musings of Nick Cassavetes, director of such films as “The Notebook.” His latest film, “Yellow,” debuted at the Toronto Film Festival.
Spoiler: It’s about an incestuous relationship between a brother and a sister.
Speaking of incest, Cassavetes offered these choice comments:
“I’m not saying this is an absolute but in a way, if you’re not having kids – who gives a damn? Love who you want. Isn’t that what we say? Gay marriage – love who you want?”
[Yes, that is what they say.]
Continuing on, Cassavetes offers the following:
“If it’s your brother or sister it’s super weird, but if you look at it, you’re not hurting anybody, except every single person who freaks out because you’re in love with one another.”
“This whole movie is about judgment, and lack of it, and doing what you want. Who gives a s**t if people judge you?”
Okay, let’s bracket off the fact that he seems to be confusing “judgment” and a frontal lobotomy.
Cassavetes is prima facie evidence of the slippery slope.
Hear him out: if you accept something like gay marriage, why not accept incest? Once you make marriage a purely social construct, created to fulfill whatever we as a culture desire it to fulfill, it becomes a slippery slope. Isn’t the idea that relationships (including sexual ones) are for our own fulfillment and meant to satisfy our own emotional needs foundational?
If so, on what basis do you dismiss Cassavetes?
All that is required is mutual consent.
Now, let’s be candid. Cassavetes will be universally condemned. Those who support gay marriage will distance themselves at once. They will reject any and all connections between his thinking and theirs.
I’ll go even further. I do not believe (obviously) that the typical person who supports something like gay marriage also supports incest.
But folks, that’s not the point.
The point is that the idea of the slippery slope is real.
And what was reprehensible twenty years ago (e.g., gay marriage) is now mainstream. And what is reprehensible today (incest?) may very well be mainstream tomorrow.
The same arguments for the first are now being used for the second.
We already have both feet on the slope.
James Emery White
'The Notebook' director Nick Cassavetes says of incest: 'Who gives a damn?', Fox News, September 10, 2012; read online.
“Can sex between brothers and sisters ever be normal?,” Keith Ablow, Fox News, September 11, 2012; read online.
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book is A Traveler's Guide to the Kingdom: Journeying through the Christian Life (InterVarsity Press). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.