Are Morals still Relevant?
By Don Hutchinson
Some say our prostitution laws should not enforce morals.
Ethics, morals and rules of right conduct have generally been estab- lished based on principles. Lately
though, it seems they are being based in
the more flexible currency of values, particularly personal values.
Principles by definition are firm and
established, like the Ten Commandments
or the call to “Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your strength and with all
your mind; and love your neighbour as
yourself” (Luke 10: 27).
But with “values” we are more likely
to consider the Ten Strong Suggestions;
or love the Lord our God for an hour on
Sundays and not think about Him the rest
of the week unless we’re in trouble; or
love those neighbours who are kind to
us and hate people who disagree with us.
Kijiji, eBay and Craigslist illustrate
quickly how people value objects differently. Each individual’s
claim to values has led
to a societal mire where
morality is derided as
old fashioned, based in
dubious religious texts.
Perhaps it’s relevant to
how you might want to
live your life, some say,
but your personal morality is irrelevant to how
I want to live mine.
A friend of mine (a
politician) notes that
all laws are expressions
of morality. Why is murder illegal? Our
society has accepted the principle that
we should not kill each other. Our legislature has passed legislation to enforce
that moral position.
He adds that all budgets are moral
documents. What we choose to spend
money on identifies what the government values and what it does not. What
is or is not valued reveals the underlying
principles the government has accepted.
In June we were before the Supreme
Court of Canada on be-
half of the EFC presenting
principled arguments in
support of laws against
claim to values
has led to a
is derided as
based in dubious
reflect a morality based on
the principle that no person should be exploited
by another – the same
principle that informs our
rejection of slavery.
PHo To: FrEd CHAr TrAnd
But I say “stronger” because the new morality is
perceived to be my right to
do whatever I want with
whomever I want – without your interference or the
interference of the government (unless you can prove
what I’m doing is harmful). Individual
rights and personal choice rule!
Let’s not kid ourselves. The link has
been established by police force after police force and criminal organization after
criminal organization in nation after nation that prostitution is inextricably intertwined with slavery (a.k.a. human trafficking). Virtually all those whose bodies are
for sale or rent are in a vulnerable position
for any variety of reasons – addiction,
abuse, poverty, being without a defender.
While the law does not guarantee
protection, the lack of law guarantees exploitation.
It has been said that you can’t enforce
morality, which is perhaps why we need
law. Morality may not be the outcome of
the law, but law has no other source than the
moral principles of a community. It’s true
you can’t be forced to respect women, children and men on principle – whether the
biblical principle of all being made in God’s
image or the biblical principle of loving our
neighbours as we love ourselves – but our
society can, and must, provide a measure of
protection through the law. Ft
DOn hutChInsOn is vice-president and
general legal counsel with The Evangelical
Fellowship of Canada and director of the
EFC’s Centre for Faith and Public Life. He
blogs at www.theEFC.ca/activateCFPL.
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