Catholic Bishops are, I gather, up in arms in the UK about our government’s plans to make same-sex marriage legal. We’ll skip quickly over the hypocrisy of a church that deliberately covered up child abuse crimes and head for the slippery slope.
One of the most readily trawled out concepts by people who do not like a thing, is that it provides a gateway to something much, much worse. Thus you can get up in public, suggest you don’t think gay people are entirely awful, but question where this is going, what will it lead to? We must stop now before the rot really sets in, and so forth. It creates fear, Lovecraft-style, of some nameless dread, too terrible to describe.
Pagans get hit with this one regularly too along, no doubt, with plenty of other interesting minority folk. A bit of nature worship isn’t so terrible, but where does that lead, eh? Next thing you know there will be naked dancing, virgin sacrifice and Satan will personally turn up, and then things will happen that are too awful to put into words. Better to be very frightened right now and say ‘no’. It’s such an easy trick to pull. It plays to people’s fear of the unknown, very deliberately. And of course because the objectors are never going to pin down the nature of their nameless dreads, there is no scope for having a debate with them.
As they said on The Now Show last night, what gay marriage will probably lead to is some people having better decorated houses. Gay marriage is a move towards inclusion, tolerance and generally being a nicer society to live in. If you don’t like gay marriage, it’s very simple, don’t marry someone of the same sex. Perhaps the Catholics fear it’s going to be made obligatory! But what could be on the slippery slope? How about polyamorous marriage? More than two people who want to commit, being allowed to do so. Forgive me if I fail to see how that’s going to destroy Western civilization any time soon. It will very likely keep a good few lawyers in gainful employment though.
Laws do not prevent people from loving. They also don’t prevent people from cheating, abusing and perverting the system. Laws provide a framework in which we can try to rub along with each other, but they never have, and never will cause people to live in a moral way. The whole point of morals is that they have to come from within, you can’t enforce them. By giving people maximum choice, you also give them the freedom to be moral. Surely for a gay Catholic, making the sacrifice of not adopting the mainstream attitude to your sexual preferences would be a far more meaningful spiritual action than just not being allowed in the first place?
Slippery slope arguments tend to be employed by people who do not have a decent case. It’s one thing if you can prove a causal link, but usually the links are all imaginary. Of course one of the known causal links is that when you allow people freedom of conscience, they don’t always do what you want them to. If your spiritual power base depends on legal enforcement, the last thing you want is people having the power to choose. But real faith, real love, real commitments are chosen, not enforced. You can be a better sort of Catholic in a system that doesn’t oblige you to turn up and confess every week, but where you do that because you feel it and believe it. I think you also get better marriages where people are there by choice and can get out if they are miserable. Choice is good, and the slippery slope is frequently a work of fiction.