The camel’s nose under the tent flap on the slippery slope

The camel’s nose under the tent flap on the slippery slope

Some people reject as cliche the common aphorisms related to the “slippery slope” or the more colorful “camel’s nose under the tent flap.” (An old Middle Eastern saying is that once the camel’s nose is under the tent flap, pretty soon you’ll have the whole camel in the tent.)

But the fact is that cliches become such for a reason. Here’s an example of one such slippery slope. In 1930, The Anglican Communion held a conference at Lambeth, England, on the topic of contraception. Prior to that time, no Christian church or ecclesial body had approved of contraception in any form. But not after Lambeth.

In reality, the Lambeth conference did not countenance contraception at will, in any circumstances Anglicans so desired, but only allowed it for the most extreme circumstances, such as to safeguard the life of mother, so that the couple would not have to abstain. Today, you’d be hardpressed to find even many Catholics to disagree with that.

Not so in 1930. Catholics were appalled at even the little crack in the doctrine for the severest cases. Catholic leaders (and non-Catholics as well) warned that allowing contraception even for just danger to the life of the mother would result in breaking down the distinction between motherhood and prostitution, that children would no longer be considered a gift, that it would lead to wholesale slaughter of the innocents. They were pooh-poohed as reactionary and spreading overheated rhetoric. The prophets of doom were right.

Fast-forward to 1968. Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae warns that contraception would lead to abortion and abortion would lead to infanticide leading to euthanasia and all kinds of anti-life evils. Once again, he was pooh-poohed as being out of touch and overreacting. And once again, he was right.

In fact, a straight line can be traced from that first allowance for evil little you open the door even wider. Even pop culture recognizes it, if subconsciously; look at Star Wars with its warnings about the dark side of The Force. Even a little dalliance with evil leads to a complete turning from good.

Slippery slopes are real. The trick is figuring how to get yourself back up the slope.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
2 comments
  • paragraph three:  “so that the couple would not have to abstain”

    I view this as the crux of the problem in our culture and I say it as a woman who with her husband practices NFP and treasures their five children.

    Yeah, you do have to abstain, sometimes a lot, to live without contraception.  But the marriage is enriched by this, not weakened. 

    All the destruction of life that you have described, all this goes on every day so that people won’t have to abstain.  The culture takes abstinence as evil and destruction of innocent life as good. 

    I can’t change the culture but I refuse to follow it’s dictates in this regard.  Besides pray that is all I can do.   

     

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