Many people lump together all of the social changes that have taken place in American history as part of one broad march of “progress” toward a more just society. If this view is correct, does the march of progress ever reach completion?
There is a classic debate between progressives and traditionalists on social issues. It generally goes something like this:
Progressive: How about we just let people do this thing that we used to disapprove of? Some of them are really nice people.
Traditionalist: Are you serious!? If you approve of that, what’s next!? The other thing!?
Progressive: That’s ridiculous, the other thing has nothing to do with this thing and no reasonable person would ever bring up the other thing! There’s no need to worry about that.
Traditionalist: Well, please excuse my intolerance, but can you explain to me why the principle that justifies this thing does not lead to the other thing?
Progressive: You just can’t handle progress. This conversation is OVER!
This is known as the “slippery slope” argument. At the current time, the issue that can be identified as “this thing” would be a behavior, same-sex marriage, and “the other thing” can be a host of other traditionally unacceptable behaviors.
The Supreme Court of the United States is virtually certain to legalize same-sex marriage with a decision that will be announced in June of this year. This would place our country along with Canada, Spain, France, Great Britain, Brazil, and several others where persons of the same sex can “marry” one another legally. Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy, given his reasoning in the Windsor case, is very likely to join progressive justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan in the decision, forming a majority on the nine person court. The court’s traditionalists will, predictably, be painted by the media as mean carmudgeons, the opponents of progress, and being on the wrong side of history.
This event will blow the door wide open to the question, “what’s next?” Surely, the march of progress toward justice and equality for all shall not stop in June of 2015? While progressives are currently claiming that this has nothing to do with any “other thing” such as plural marriage, incest, or bestiality, a careful reading of the news will show otherwise.
First up: Plural Marriage. An American man who grew up with “old Mormon” ways is wondering why people cannot accept who he chooses to love in a piece on Salon.com. His conclusion echoes the reasononing of same-sex marriage: “I respect any consenting adult’s right to marry whomever they want. Can you ever respect mine?”
Next in line: Incest. With the whimsical title “What it’s Like to Date Your Dad”, New York Magazine tells the story of an 18 year-old woman who intends to marry her father after a romantic relationship of almost two years. Her response to critics? “I just don’t understand why I’m judged for being happy.” Does this logic sound familiar? Who could be against happiness? With this same criterion of happiness justifying same-sex marriage, how could society deny this woman her marital bliss with the partner of her choice?
Don’t forget: bestiality. A different New York Magazine article with a tolerant attitude toward a man who enjoys sexual relations with a horse caught the attention of the progressive, agnostic columnist and insightful social observer, Damon Linker. Linker is a supporter of same-sex marriage but he is being honest with himself when he asks, “Is It Now OK to have sex with animals?”
Considering the relativist moral logic that has allowed same-sex marriage and being a bit alarmed by the bestiality article in New York Magazine, Linker concludes:
Is that good enough? Can we do without a publicly affirmed vision of human flourishing? Fulfilling personal preferences (whatever they happen to be), seeking consent in all interactions, and abiding by the imperative of universal niceness — is that sufficient to bring happiness? Or will a world that tells us in a million ways that we are radically undetermined in our ends leave us feeling empty, lost, alone, unmoored, at sea, spiritually adrift?
I have no idea.
But I suspect we’re going to find out soon enough.
Linker has discovered the slippery slope. Without unchanging standards of morality from God or natural law, moral relativists are clinging only to vauge ideas of equality and tolerance. As a result, those who celebrate the probable Supreme Court decision in June legalizing same-sex marriage should also be prepared to fully embrace plural marriage, incest, and bestiality as socially and morally acceptable because, for some people, that’s what makes them happy. The march of “progress” goes on.