As the Supreme Court considers the validity of the Affordable Care Act, there is talk about a slippery slope of government mandates. The argument, simply put, is once we allow the government to force us each to buy health insurance will we be forced to do more and more things by the government, like eat broccoli. (Seriously, it is the example used.)
I have been pondering a few other slippery slopes. These are slopes we have been sliding down for quite some time.
The first one is about naming God. The “proper name” of God used in ancient Hebrew texts is HWHY, read as YHWH, the root from which the word Jehovah was later formed. When this word was translated as the LORD (all caps to indicate the presence of the original word), we began a slippery slope.
Consider that the Jewish Rabbis who translated the Hebrew into Greek translated YHWH as Being. This was much more accurate and did not have the associations with the use of the LORD that YHWH has. With YHWH there is no “the” to single out and contrast with other entities. There is no gender or hierarchy in Being as there is implied with LORD.
If our word for God did not have the exclusivity implied by “the”, but simply meant Being or Life, would we have the “everybody else is wrong” arrogance that warps the message of universal grace our sacred scriptures teach?
If there was no gender in our word for God, would we have the gender and sexuality obsessions that mar Christendom’s attitudes toward women and other sexualities?
If there was no hierarchical inference in our word for God, could it be used to prop up oppressive, institutional powers?
If we could get back to the original sense of the word, the “hear, O Israel, the LORD, your God is one”, would be understood as, “hear, O Israel, your God is the unity of all life”.
Yes we have to watch out for slippery slopes. When we find we have been sliding down one, we need to stop the slide and begin to climb back up the slope.