The Danger of the Slippery Slope Argument
The Slippery Slope. It’s a phrase that I hear many times used by well-meaning Christians to warn against future consequences of present day choices. In my mind, I picture a cartoon character taking 1 tiny step too far and then frantically flailing about as he uncontrollably speeds down an icy mountain, sure to meet his demise at the bottom (wherever that might be). Somehow, I also picture the individuals at the top, arms folded, shaking their heads and saying, “Tsk, tsk. We warned him!”
The actual definition by Merriam – Webster is:
a course of action that seems to lead inevitably from one action or result to another with unintended consequences
This definition of Slippery Slope is not so dramatic, but there’s still the implication of losing all control (“inevitably, unintended”). Scripturally speaking, the only biblical support that I can find for the Slippery Slope argument is in regard to sin and giving in to temptation.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. (1 Timothy 6:9 ESV)
So why is it that in the church, we keep hearing the Slippery Slope argument in regards to issues that are not sin? “No, we shouldn’t raise our hands in worship, because it’s a slippery slope.” A slippery slope into what?
“No, we shouldn’t use electronic devices instead of an actual Bible…”
“No, we shouldn’t allow a woman to share her testimony…”
“No, we shouldn’t invite a drug addict…”
“No, we shouldn’t use those instruments…”
If anyone ever ran towards the perceived Slippery Slope, it was Jesus. When He healed on the Sabbath, when He ate with sinners, when He forgave an adulterous woman, when He touched a leper, when He sat alone at a well with a sinful Samaritan woman. The Pharisees were so quick to point out what they judged as wrong, even though the Lord Jesus was not in any way sinning. How could they get it so twisted?
The flip side
Here are some reasons not to use the Slippery Slope argument in the local church:
- It is declaring something certain about the future (remember the word “inevitable”)?
- It is possibly a lazy way to avoid genuinely thinking and praying about something.
- It stops a profitable discussion from happening.
- It puts all power and authority in the hands of those who use the argument, because nobody can argue against something that might possibly happen in the future – because nobody really knows!
- It could actually lead to its own Slippery Slope towards legalism=pride=sin.
- It could be silencing the Holy Spirit. What if the argument is contradicting where the Lord is leading – towards the perceived Slippery Slope, not away from it?
Prayer is so vital both personally and corporately . We desperately need to seek God’s guidance. If we are walking in the Spirit – in obedience – then He is completely trustworthy to lead us in each of our decisions.