When we use a “slippery slope argument,” we assert that a relatively small event will launch an inevitable chain of increasingly worse events that will ultimately end in disaster. The problem is that the slippery slope argument isn’t sound reasoning; rather, it is a logical fallacy.
In today’s passage, King Xerxes didn’t know how to handle Vashti’s insubordination, so he called his advisors (v. 15). These men likely used astrology and divination to determine a course of action that they would then recommend to the king.
Memukan argued that Vashti had sinned against all of the nobles and people of the kingdom (vv. 16–18). He feared that “the queen’s conduct [would] become known to all the women, and so they [would] despise their husbands.” He finished with this globalized prediction: “There will be no end of disrespect and discord” (v. 18). He took a single occurrence between husband and wife and escalated it to an empire-wide crisis. Clearly, he believed in “slippery slope” reasoning. Having fed the king’s fear, Memukan advised him to issue a royal decree that all women must respect their husbands. He emphasized the king’s power, reminding him that the laws of Persia and Media could not be repealed.
What followed was even more illogical and ironic! By dispatching this law, Xerxes himself ensured the very thing he most feared. He made Vashti’s act of insubordination known to women everywhere! This further highlights the Persian monarchy’s lust for complete control and sets up the story in which—ironically—not even an “irrevocable” law could thwart the plan of God, who would use a woman and a wife to save His people.
>>Have you seen people in power act out of fear to protect their position? Have you ever done it? Fear can be a very negative influence in our life. If you are faced with a decision today, consider how you can act not from a place of fear, but with trust in God.
Power is an important theme in the book of Esther. Will you pray for the men and women you know who have been entrusted with positions of influence? Ask God to fill them with His wisdom and holiness.