The Slippery Slope and the Definition of Marriage

Some people tend to be wary of slippery slope arguments, but when it comes to defining marriage the slope really does appear to be pretty slick. Take note of this story out of Brazil, which is known for its progressive views on social policy. CNN reports that a Brazilian official recently granted a civil union to a man and two women who are living in a polyamorous relationship.

The relationship involves three professionals in their 30s — one man and two women — who, she says, live together, love one another as equals and are like any other non-married cohabiting couple — except they are three.

What Domingues did was legally register the trio as a “stable union,” a civil union that extends all of the benefits of marriage, though there is debate about what rights the threesome will actually enjoy. It short, it recognizes the trio as a family entity for public legal purposes.

There has been some pushback against this move by some groups within Brazil. CNN reports:

“This union is void of any legality,” said Regina Beatriz Tavares da Silva, head of the family law committee of a lawyers’ association in Sao Paulo.

Brazilian law defines marriage as a union between two people, so it is impossible for a civil union of three to be granted the rights of a marriage of two.

“It goes directly against the constitution,” da Silva said. “Monogamy is defined as relations between two, not three or four or five.”

As a legal question, it may very well be the case that the wedding of three is against Brazilian law. As a moral issue, however, the stage has already been set for precisely this kind of development. Once the conjugal view of marriage is abandoned (as it has been in Brazil), the sky is the limit as to what other kinds of “unions” might be recognized by the state. If heterosexuality is no longer a condition of legal marriage, then why should monogamy be one?

This particular story is happening in Brazil, but the moral trajectory of the gay marriage debate in America is headed in precisely the same direction. Redefining marriage will have consequences beyond what most people imagine right now. It’s happening in Brazil. There’s no reason to believe that it wouldn’t eventually happen here as well. Robbie George puts a fine point on it:

But what is the reason of principle that can be given by those who, while rejecting the idea that sexual-reproductive complementarity is an essential element of marriage, do not—or do not yet—wish to give up the idea of marriage as the sexually exclusive union of two, and not more than two, persons?  Is there a reason of principle?  Or is the belief in “two-ness” mere bigotry?

The implication is clear. Once traditional marriage is jettisoned as the norm, there is no reason in principle to deny every other kind of union. If it’s bigotry to deny legal marriage status to gay couples, then would it not also be bigotry to deny couples, triads, or quadrads the right to marry as well?

Gay marriage advocates may be loathe to admit this, but the slope is very slippery—whether they like it or not.

12 Responses to The Slippery Slope and the Definition of Marriage

  1. Dwight McKissic September 3, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    Denny,

    Thanks for calling this to our attention. Thanks for sounding the alarm. America need to wake up. I believe only authentic biblical praying, fasting, repentance and seeking God’s face will save this nation from going the way of Brazil.

    Dwight

    • Denny Burk September 3, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

      Thanks, Pastor. Great to hear from you.

  2. Jerry Corbaley September 4, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    Many who assume that a Christian marriage is defined as one man and one woman decry the slippery slope. But they note only those who are only farther down the slope than they, themselves.

    There are spiritual qualifications for a Christian marriage, not just gender.

    • Will September 4, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

      What is there to assume? Apostasy is on the rise, are you standing steadfast? The slope will be what it will be and there is still only one way that leads to life. No matter how the sinner seeks to justify his sin, it is impossible for the sinner to serve both flesh and God. To die to yourself and your sinful nature is to live. If you are slipping, there is a rock where you can stand.

      Be Well, Be Blessed

      • Jerry Corbaley September 5, 2012 at 11:18 am #

        Will, I have no disagreement with what you say above.

        My hope is in God, not Gov’t.

        My concern is that a government definition of marriage is far, far less important for Christians than a Biblical definition of marriage for Christians.

        You can ‘left-click’ on my name for a fuller understanding of what I am saying.

        • Don Johnson September 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

          I did click and comments on your blog, the post is waiting your approval.

          • Jerry Corbaley September 5, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

            Hi Don,

            It is possible we both have a saving faith in Christ. But we are very different in our approach to the writings of Scripture. I am complementarian, you are egalitarian; I am a Young Earth Creationist, you are an Old Earth Creationist.

            My personal blog is not about “everyone-come-on-in-and-debate”. Your comment (on my blog) raises many additional topics that I do not have the time or inclination to address. I choose not to publish it.

            On my blog I published a template that I think will be helpful to the next generation of Christians. Blogs are free. Instead of finding fault with what I wrote, start a blog.

            • Don Johnson September 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

              Hi Jerry,

              I posted on your blog in case you wanted to be a Berean and see why I think you are mistaken and why I teach very different info that you.

              To be a teacher means we are held to a higher standard. I thought you would want to investigate and I wanted to give you the info to be a better teacher of the Bible in context. Your choice as to what you do. To teach in ignorance is to increase the chances of propagating error.

              P.S. Altho I do believe in an old earth, I am an Evolutionary Creationist, along the lines of Biologos.

              • Jerry Corbaley September 5, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

                Hi Don,

                Blogs are free. Instead of finding fault with what I wrote, start a blog.

                • Don Johnson September 5, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

                  I do blog. I also comment on other blogs. I understand that the blog owner sets the rules for their own blog.

                  I commented on your blog as I think what you posted is harming the body of Christ and I do not wish to see that. I suspect it was out of ignorance, so I gave a pointer to help you learn if you wished. Your choice.

                  • Jerry Corbaley September 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

                    Don,

                    I have been unable to find your blog.

                    We are doing Denny a disservice. You appear intent to hijack Denny’s post and make this personal. So, please stop.

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