Anarchy or True Freedom?

As a member of several online forums, most of them spiritually oriented, discussions can become quite heated. Take the one I'm participating in on legalizing prostitution. The argument was made that it is not possible to legislate morality, therefore, in the best interests of the participants, prostitution between consenting adults should be legalized. Such legalization would give the prostitute legal recourse should she be "roughed up" or forced to do something she did not want to do. It could also be used to force prostitutes to have physicals or their clients to use condoms to prevent the spread of STD's. In short, while it may be something that the majority of people want to get rid of for their own personal reasons, no one has ever been able to do so. Therefore, it is best to do what we can to protect all the participants. Legalization allows for more control than keeping it illegal. Witness what happened when Prohibition was in effect in the US and how much more control (or at least legal recourse) we now have because drinking alcohol is now legal.

With this argument regarding the inability to legislate morality came the old standard counter-argument "Since every law on the books deals with morality: rape, theft, murder, etc., maybe we should get rid of all laws and just declare anarchy." Unfortunately, this argument is quite often effective on those who don't take the time to think things through and to really understand what those who advocate getting rid of all laws on morality are really trying to say. So I'm gonna try to explain it here as clearly as possible.

First, let's define morality. MORALITY IS BASED ON ONE'S BELIEFS ABOUT GOD. (And in this sense, I define God as the guiding principle in your life, so that even atheists have a "god".) Even those who claim to worship the same God can't agree what is moral and what is immoral. For some, dancing is immoral. For others, exposing the flesh of the arms is immoral. For others, cutting their hair is immoral. In some cultures, religious law and social law are one in the same. In some of these cultures, it is okay to marry the child of our father's brother, but not the child of your father's sister, even though both have the same "blood relationship" to you. In others, polygamy is accepted, but only for men and not for women. Some in the US see the Islamic treatment of women as immoral, and yet for those who adhere to Islamic tenets, it is an essential part of their faith. So who is right?

Fortunately, the forefathers of America had the foresight and wisdom to build a wall of separation between church and state. This wall was, in spite of some claims to the contrary, intentional. (For those who disagree, read Thomas Jefferson's autobiography and what he wrote about the resounding defeat of the proposal to include the words Jesus Christ in the preamble to the Virginia Constitution.) In the US, we are free to worship God as we see fit. Therefore, no one has a right to create laws that impose one "brand" of morality (which I realize many see as God's morality, not their own) on others. But because I (in some people's opinion) do not worship the same God as they do, my morality can be vastly different from theirs. So how are we all to co-exist peacefully?

In order to allow each of us to live according to our own morality (in other words, as we see fit), since we're not doing it voluntarily as individuals (for the most part), society must create laws that are designed to keep one person, group, business, etc. from violating an individual's right to live his/her life as he/she sees fit. Therefore, laws on rape, theft, etc. are NOT moral dictates, simply laws protecting each individual from someone else forcing THEIR morality on the individual. For example, I can't steal because while I may believe it's morally acceptable to steal, unless I steal from another thief, I'm forcing YOU to live by my morality that stealing is ok. I do not have that right. Even laws like DUI (driving under the influence [of drugs or alcohol]) would stay on the books because it's not a moral judgment: a drunk driver is putting my life at risk without my permission, therefore imposing his morality on me. Laws protecting children would stay on the books because kids need that protection until they're able to make their own decisions.

On the other hand, laws against same-gender marriage, for example, are strictly moral judgments. There is no "victim" in same-gender marriages. There is no victim in prostitution IF THERE IS NO COERCION and it is a free will, consensual act between two people. There is no "victim" in gambling, provided that the gambler is using his/her OWN money (not joint money meant for bills, food, etc.). There is no victim in multiple marriages, provided that all parties are in agreement that there be multiple partners. If your personal morals cringe at that, so be it. Don't do it. But others hold different morals and they have every right to do so. By legalizing such activities, there is no attempt to force you to live by someone else's moral code. By keeping them illegal, you are already forcing others to live by your moral code.

The call to get rid of all laws on morality is NOT a call for anarchy. Indeed, ridding our society of all laws on morality is the only way that we will ever experience true freedom.

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