Over the last day I’ve had some back-and-forth with a new commenter, dchap, on the discussion thread for “Apologist Michael Brown responds to Part 1 of my review of the Brown-Vines Debate“. The following excerpt from my comments sums up my assessment of the exchange:
“Thanks again for your contributions. I don’t agree with you (obviously), but it is always good to have an articulate dissenting voice who helps to move the conversation forward.”
In this article I’m going to pull one of the topics in our conversation onto the main-stage for some reflection.
One of the points dchap has raised against the acceptance of homosexuality is the ole’ slippery slope argument. That is, if the prohibition on same sex unions is lifted, we will have no ultimate ground to prohibit adult-child sexual relationships or human-animal sexual relationships. My initial response was as follows:
“I would think there are some rather obvious ways to stop the slide. To note the most obvious, romantic covenantal relationships require equals who can both consent to the relationship. Neither a child nor a non-human animal can do this, and so neither meets a minimum threshold for a romantic covenantal relationship.”
dchap was not persuaded and responded as follows:
“2. It is perfectly legal for a minor to either be emancipated and be able to make decisions as an adult as well as even if not emancipated, with parental consent, a minor can enter into a marriage covenant. As I agree that an animal cannot consent, a minor surely can. There are actually adult men who admit that when they were a child, they consented to a sexual relationship with an adult male and said it was very beneficial in their development as an adult. So just to be clear, if the boy is emancipated or has parental consent allowing him to enter into a pederastic relationship, can you hold to that form of legal pederasty and the full inspiration of the Bible with no conflict?
“Also, what about two committed, consenting adult brothers? As Vines argues that the NT prohibits certain types of same-sex relationships, maybe the NT only forbids certain types of incestuous relationships (1 Cor 5:1, parent/child)? Even though there’s no satisfactory response in favor of this slippery slope objection, is it still up for debate, and can both sides hold to the full inspiration of the Bible?”
Let me start by saying something about dchap’s attempt to defend a child’s ability to consent to a sexual relationship with an adult. dchap claims that a child can consent to this relationship. In his words, “As I agree that an animal cannot consent, a minor surely can.”
Really? A minor “surely can” consent? Just what do we mean when we say “consent”? A hint: it ain’t merely the ability to say “yes”. Here is a legal definition of “consent”:
“Consent is an act of reason and deliberation. A person who possesses and exercises sufficient mental capacity to make an intelligent decision demonstrates consent by performing an act recommended by another. Consent assumes a physical power to act and a reflective, determined, and unencumbered exertion of these powers. It is an act unaffected by fraud, duress, or sometimes even mistake when these factors are not the reason for the consent. Consent is implied in every agreement.” (source)
Does dchap really think an eight year old girl or a twelve year old boy “possesses and exercises sufficient mental capacity to make an intelligent decision” regarding sexual contact with a thirty year old man?
Here’s what really disturbs me about the way dchap argues. His whole “slippery slope” argument assumes that the only principled reason to censure sexual relationships with animals, children and siblings is because sexual relationships are only supposed to be between a man and a woman.
That’s it? Seriously?!
Interestingly, dchap’s argument leaves me with a real dilemma. On the one hand, it hardly seems charitable to assume that he really believes the heterosexual definition of marriage is the sole principled reason for people to proscribe bestiality, pederasty and incest. On the other hand, to interpret him otherwise suggests that he presented his slippery slope argument in bad faith, knowing all the while that it was fallacious. I’m not sure where to go with that.