Slippery Slope- which value leads to child abuse?

I mentioned to my mother how my views on homosexuality have changed. She assumed that I meant I now viewed homosexuals as sinners no worse than the rest of us liars and murderers. She views herself as very progressive because she sees people with homosexual leanings as people who are tempted to sin differently than she is tempted.

When I told her I no longer viewed their desires as inherantly sinful, she was really upset.

I said I couldn’t find much difference between two informed consenting adults in a long-term relationship with the desire to bring good to the other and my own marriage.

Although we discussed the bible, we did not get into how it views menstruation and homosexuality with the same adjective: abomination. I don’t see menstruation as sin anymore.

Her main argument was…

The Slippery Slope!

She stated that two consenting informed adults engaging in private sexual activity would lead to child molestation. Instead of comparing the activity to myself and my husband, she compared it to someone attacking my child.

Thinking about that logic, I completely disagree with her. In fact, I believe that child abuse and polygamy are more likely to happen in a conservative hierarchical society than a liberal egalitarian one.

The main value which leads to homosexuality is informed mutual consent between adults. Children and groups such as certain mentally challenged individuals are not viewed as capable of giving informed consent. That is why we have child protection laws. By definition, sexual activity with minors is abuse. This isn’t because minors are viewed as inferior, but because of recognizing the power differential between adults and children isn’t compatible with mutuality.

The value of mutuality is very strong. The only way polygamy could be introduced in such a setting is if all parties mutually and enthusiastically agreed. This isn’t the same as one party giving in to another. This is all parties believing it to be in the best interests of everyone involved and truly wanting it. I would guess that is extremely rare.

The values which uphold specific gender couplings also uphold the value of authoritarian hierarchy. They say that sex must be between a man and a woman. Why? Because the higher authority says so. The stronger value here is obedience to authority.

Since obedience to authority is so valued, and with the end goal of a safe society, it can lead to abuse of power. In a sexual relationship of this type one of the partners is generally given more authority than the other. Since most societies of this type place authority with the male over the female, I will assume that as well. This means that the one with more power will get to say what the other does. Presumably this is for the good of the inferior party.

Evidence shows that in societies like this, polygamy does exist. Polygamy was at different times tolerated, accepted and promoted among Judaism, Christianity and Islam- religions that have tended to value obedience to authority over individual autonomy.

If women are viewed as children in their inferior status, how is sex with a 26 year old different from a 16 year old?

And yes, often in societies that allow polygamy we can find child marriages. I’ve met child brides in India. And yep, their dads would have killed or disowned them if they were lesbians, but selling their 12 year old daughter to be the second or third wife of an older abusive man was God’s plan. One of these woman’s fathers was a Christian pastor.

So, no. The values which allow homosexuality do not lead to child abuse. The values which prescribe rigid gender identity and sexual behaviour actually can and do lead to child abuse and polygamy.

I don’t think we need to be afraid of the lesbian couple next door, but rather the extreme religous person who would rather kill their child if they found out they were not behaving according to a rigid plan because “God says so.”  And I happen to be related to a man who said this.

I know most religious people are horrified by child abuse, but please don’t say that blind obedience to authority is the best way to prevent it.  Please don’t blame homosexual marriage for the acts of disturbed individuals.

8 thoughts on “Slippery Slope- which value leads to child abuse?

  1. theo(il)logical says:

    I’ll leave it to you find this fabulous documentary. I’m sure you can get it for free on-line. In the meantime, here is the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajBR0dq0XXk

    I strongly recommend watching it, and forwarding it on to those you know who give you the “it’s clearly written in the Bible that homosexuality is wrong” reasoning (i.e., you mom). As this documentary makes clear in very plain language, the Bible is NOT clearly against homosexuality but certain misguided hermeneutics have dominated in its interpretation this way. This documentary WILL change how you read Leviticus.

    • prairienymph says:

      I just watched the whole documentary. Outstanding. I think that they could have gone into more depth with the hermeneutics, but the focus, on the families dealing with homosexual children, is much more powerful. People can do their own study later on but they have to be confronted with the reality of the situation in a way they can relate to first. This documentary did an amazing job of that. I will be showing it to as many family and friends as will watch it. Thanks.

  2. Ahab says:

    Outstanding post. Conflating homosexuality with child abuse is a tried and true fundamentalist strategy for demonizing LGBT people. It’s bunk, of course, but plenty of fundamentalists still believe it. We DO need to be more wary of religious hardliners than of law-abiding LGBT folks — the former are far more dangerous.

    While we’re on the issue of child abuse, your mother forgot about passages in her own Bible that command execution for disobedient children (Exodus 21:15, Deuteronomy 21:18-21), order the slaughter of enemy children (Deuteronomy 2-33-36, 1 Samuel 15:2-3), and condone child abuse (Proverbs 13:24, 19:18, and 23:13-14). If someone is genuinely troubled by child abuse, they should look askance at the Bible, not LGBT people.

  3. Lorena says:

    Well said. Very well said.

    You’re right. The religious have championed childhood abuse. It can’t get any worse. Saying that gay marriage will lead to pedophilia is just denial and ignorance of the sins of the church.

  4. Hi, PN, I’ve been ignoring you for a couple weeks because you make me think so hard my head hurts. Just came back in time to read this and will catch up on the others later.
    You have called it right again, as usual. Gays don’t do pedophilia nor other forms of child abuse any more often than the rest of us, and maybe less often. The real problems of child abuse in the large have come from strict authoritarian religious people.
    Why cant we just let the G&L community live normal lives like the rest of us? Religious folks are scared to death of them and atheists for some reason.

    • prairienymph says:

      Feel free to ignore me! This is my space for flirting with being angry, so its probably a little heavy.

      Amazing how religious people feel so threatened from GLBT and athiests!

  5. theo(il)logical says:

    Religious persons are not “champions of child abuse,” just as GLBTQQ2S people are neither. Fact is that statistics strongly suggest that the proportion of priests as child abusers is comparable to that of the regular population: http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/12/01/the-truth-about-priests/ I would argue that it is certain institutions that have failed those it purports to serves by covering up child abuse, and it so happens that the Catholic Church is one of those institutions. It’s just really disappointing when an institution that so many put their trust in, lets everyone down. Attacking religion (i.e., people’s beliefs and traditions) is an easy thing to do here, but not necessarily the right attack to rooting out the real problem.

  6. prairienymph says:

    True. I did not mean to attack all religion. However, when the value of obedience to authority is placed higher than other values it can lead to child abuse more quickly than if it is placed in a different context. This value is not so highly regarded in more liberal churches or even in many evangelical ones. However, it still exists in fundamentalist Christianity.

    Take the Quiverful movement. Part of its belief system include indoctrinating children to obey adults on command. I have read several testimonies of children practicing this immediate and thoughtless obedience and then having that taken advantage of by child molesters.

    Those children are extremely vulnerable! I was told by a woman who used to work with sex workers that pimps target Christian girls from the prairie provinces more often for recruitment. The brand of Christianity common in the West is more conservative.

    Also, don’t you think if a group, religious or not, believes that a sexual relationship should involve a power differential of gender they will be less likely to be sensitive to the abuse that comes from a power differential in age? That is part of what I was getting at by slippery slope.

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