Believing something is wrong but shouldn't be illegal


#1

For a long time, I have been very interested in politics, and would describe myself as leaning libertarian in that I have a hard time finding justification for punishing people for partaking in consensual acts (not that this doesn’t apply to issues such as abortion and euthanasia). I know that Catholic Church is against prostitution or the use of hard drugs, for example, but is it wrong for me, as a devout Catholic, to believe such things should be legally permitted?

I believe that we must do all we can to help people who find themselves in situations such as these, but I find myself thinking if putting them in jail really helps. With the example of prostitution, I often think of St. Mary Magdalene, who Jesus took in and taught her how and why to change her life. I believe efforts like these must be made instead of locking up people who made this mistake.

Another reason I have thought this to be allowed is that the Catholic Church approves of religious freedom for people of all faiths, permitting people to directly violate the 10 commandments and committing mortal sin. However, we respect the right of every person to hold whatever religious beliefs they wish.

In conclusion, it is my personal belief, and has been for some time, that some acts that are reprehensible and would amount to mortal sin should be legal. Is it wrong for me to hold such beliefs that allow people to sin legally in the eyes of the Catholic Church?


#2

It depends.

Abortion is required for us to believe that it should be illegal. Non negotiable.

Most others including drug we can be agaisnt morally in our faith, but allow legally.

Except prostitution, that cannot be legal.


#3

You question has some major league moral ramifications. It might be best to ask an apologist or a canon lawyer. I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer to this one and I think simply asking a general audience would only be more confusing in the long run.

One thing I think would be for certain, however. Acts that grievously harm others, cannot be tolerated from either a spiritual or civil standpoint. Laws in civil societies are designed to protect the innocent, and this can often only be accomplished by separating the evil doer from the general population. On that you would probably get universal agreement.

It sounds a little like you are confusing liberty with license. Your question needs attention from a perspective that is probably not in the purview of the average guy on the street.

Shalom


#4

As I said in my original post, I do not extend this belief to matters of intentionally taking life. I am 100% pro-life and believe the intentional taking of life by people should be illegal whether it be abortion, euthanasia, or the death penalty.

What sets prostitution apart from private drug use assuming the people engaging in such acts are consenting adults doing something out of their own free will. If the people are both of consenting age and no one is being trafficked, coerced, or abused then why the different standard?


#5

You’re in good company: St Augustine thought that the evil of prostitution should be tolerated (in the original sense of the word) because to prosecute it legally would create a lot of social turmoil and because he thought it meant that young men would not chase after more virtuous young women for sex.

So the Church has always thought that you can’t make *every *sin illegal: what would we do with all the white lies people tell?


#6

Prostitution should not be legal. It’s not only against gods law but natural law


#7

It’s not that it *should *be legal, but whether the social disorder caused by trying to enforce laws against it are worth making it illegal.

I admit that there is a problem with this as the result can be that the government can be bullied into rescinding some types of laws by people causing social disorder, ie, drugs, but it’s an imperfect world and we are imperfect beings. And too, some things may be better left up to private action. If prostitution were legal, maybe more people would go out and try to help those caught in that life instead of thinking that the government was taking care of it.


#8

But that sort of sounds like the pro choice argument that making abortion legal will decrease abortion. I don’t believe you believe that im just curious if the same logic applies. Not saying your saying that, but you get my drift


#9

I understand, and there are certain crimes so grave they should never be tolerated, according to the Church, because the disorder of trying to police them *is *justified by the disorder they cause. It’s a balancing act.


#10

There is nothing really to argue about.
It has been a long tradition of the Church that not all grave moral evils need to be criminalised. Prostitution is a classic case that may be acceptably decriminalised.
Sodomy has been decrimalised in most 1st world countries and though the Church opposed this it has not seen fit to try and have it reversed or campaigned against.
We live in multicultural and multi-religious societies now,
What you are suggesting is that any dominant religion should be able to impose its morality on other groups who may not be ready for it.
This is essentially pushing Catholic Shariah.

In the end its a prudential common good argument for the preservation of civil order.
Natural law not withstanding.
Though it does suggest a population is pretty far gone if abortion or murder must be decriminalised for the preservation of the nation!
Prostitution and sodomy not so much.

There are other ways for the Church to morally mature and leaven a barbarian population other than criminal law afterall.


#11

Sorry to digress but there is nothing in the Bible that says Mary Magdalene was a prostitute and this is not something the Church teaches.

This idea simply came from a personal opinion expressed by Pope Gregory the Great in a homily but it is not a Church teaching nor even Church tradition.


#12

Right. Thank you for this. Poor St Mary gets a lot of bad press.


#13

Mary Magdalen had 7 demons cast from her (Luke 8:2, and Mark 16:9). No where does the Bible picture her as a prostitute, and that is not a teaching of the Church.


#14

Our entire criminal justice system needs to be overhauled, and staffed with new people.

In many ways, our current CJ system is medieval, people must be punished for doing wrong, make their life uncomfortable to make them learn to conform.

An effective law or justice system stops or reduces the crime, how many of our current laws have done this? Traffic laws have been on the books since time began, but look at every city today, PLENTY of people still willing to break those laws…that proves those laws have been absolutely ineffective.

If the goal is reduce or stop people from speeding, (or any other crime), one would think someone, somewhere could have come up with a better solution by now, especially considering how ineffective most laws have been.

Drugs are another good example, majority of problems is due to them being illegal to begin with.

But its not really about whats ‘right and wrong’ though, its really about money/ revenue/ budgets/ agenda, etc. Drug laws were created in an effort to keep certain minorities out of certain parts of town, today it has ballooned into a huge money grab, its not about our health and safety, it is a law enough people are consistently willing to break that makes it so lucrative.

Same thing with prostitution, they know enough people are willing to break that law consistently, so keeping it on the books ensures job security for years to come, ensures larger budgets, etc

Very simply, decriminalizing or making certain things legal, would have a devastating effect on the law enforcement industry and all the industries that support it, locally drug crime and drug related crime make up roughly 78% of ALL CRIME…if drugs were made legal, what would law enforcement be left with…what kind of budgets could they demand…HUGE decrease in the need for agents, money, equipment, etc. See what Im saying yet?


#15

The Catholic Church does respect peoples right to hold whatever religious believe they want while at the same time may not respect their actual religious beliefs at all. People have the right to go to hell if that is what they choose to do. And how we choose to live our lives is that choice. The Catholic Church may “permit” people to directly violate the 10 commandments and commit mortal sin, as you say, without using or advocating the use of force to prevent them but are clear to point out the eternal and temporal consequences to those who choose to do so.


#16

I’m pretty sure your statement is incorrect and that the Catholic Church condemns such abuses of the moral law under the pretext of religious freedom. See the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis humanae), 7.

Legitimate religious freedom only operates within the limits of the moral law.


#17

Since abortion kills an innocent person and you believe in freedom of religion. Do you think it should be illegal for a Muslim to kill an infidel in the USA?


#18

First, sorry for the statement about Mary Magdalene. I was under a false impression I must have gotten somewhere else, and I’m sorry for the mistake.

As to the freedom of religion, I was referring to the fact that it directly contradicts the Ten Commandments to, for instance, believe in many or no gods or to worship idols. I did not mean to say that any act should be permitted in the name of religious freedom.


#19

So what is the standard that should be used to make murder legal or illegal?


#20

Personally I think sex work should be legal and protected. Some, not all, ladies who do it are doing because they want to. If it was made legal and can be say unionized it would cut down on crime associated with it. Of course the church shouldn’t be making any of the laws.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.