What do I say when someone argues one's own right to his/her body?

Hello,

So in discussing prostitution with a few peers, often they will say “If a prostitute wants to sell her body, then its her right to do what she wants with her body.”

I usually respond by saying that her body belongs to God and that prostitution violates the dignity of the human person, which they respond with “why is it any of your business what she does with her body?”

The same question arises regarding LGTB, “why is it any of your business what they do with their body.”

I really hate this question but I don’t know how to answer it in a secular way. How would you respond when someone tells you “Why should you tell a women its wrong if she wants to sell her body or change her gender? Why is it your business what she wants to do with her own body?”

Thank you for your answers.

Some things are both physically and morally dangerous.

+JMJ+

Just tell them that if one has absolute right to their own body then it is perfectly OK for somebody to suicide and why should anybody stop them from doing so.

It’s hard to answer in a secular way, because you have to take it right back to contraception being wrong. Basically, promiscuity destabilizes the family unit and thus society.

The majority of prostitutes are being taken advantage of. I think that is the most convincing argument. They are addicts or were abused and they have definitely been treated terribly by some Johns and have little recourse to the law.

Sex slavery is a major world wide criminal enterprise.

Some diseases are spread by sexual activity.

There are also possible opportunities for being blackmailed or extorted or being victimized or suffering violence. Some practitioners of prostitution suffer from mental illness. Why would anyone want to be exposed to those situations.

Trent Horn does a pretty good job of debating college professors on abortion. It’s on YouTube.

Usually I would say something like prostitution is sexist. It allows men (I say men bc most prostitutes are probably female) to objectify and use the woman for his pleasure. In a gender neutral sense, it makes the prostitute an object to the client. That is NOT empowering and allowing a body to be “bought” at a price may be alright to the prostitute, but NOT for women in general because it affects men’s view of the women. This goes for porn stars as well, imo.

Plus even though there are willing prostitutes, there are plenty of people who are forced into it. When society accepts prostitution as normal and empowering, these women’s voices are silenced even more. They become even more invisible imo.

Just because someone chooses to hurt themselves doesn’t make it right. If we didn’t care about people hurting themselves, we wouldn’t be compassionate.

Personally I don’t think you are going to get anywhere with these people. However, if I were in that situation I would approach it from the view point of natural law.

So let’s talk about natural law. Natural law reasoning is the basis for almost all standard moral intuitions. For example, it is the dignity and value that each human being naturally possesses that makes the needless destruction of human life or infliction of physical and emotional pain immoral. This gives rise to a host of specific moral principles, such as the unacceptability of murder, prostitution, kidnapping, mutilation, physical and emotional abuse, and so forth.

From the natural law we can reason that the natural sex partner for a man is a woman, and the natural sex partner for a woman is a man. We can also reason that the natural sex partner is not multiple partners. You might ask how can we reason this?

Well sexual organs have a purpose and to put it bluntly are only meant to be used one way. Therefore, to use your married partners sexual organ in a manner it was not intended to be used would be disrespectful. Would it be disrespectful for me to use your iPad as a hammer?

The point of procreation is that it shows us, by natural law, what the true purpose of the sexual act is meant for. Every time a married couple has sex does not have to end in procreation. However, the fact that sex between a man and woman has been shown throughout history to be vital to the propagation of the species proves to us, through the natural law, that sex is meant for a man and a woman.

Here’s a few fun facts that lead us to the conclusion that Nature never intended for us to have multiple sex partners.

There are about 27 different types of sexual transmitted diseases.
There are more than 20 million new cases reported every year in the US.
More than half are among the ages of 15 to 24.
50,000 Americans become infected with HIV every year.
15,529 people with AIDS died in 2010.

Now if you think those facts are impressive I got one fact that would blow your mind.

If sexual activity would be exclusive between one man and one woman, married in a loving relationship. All of the above diseases would be unheard of within one to 2 generations.

If that’s not enough proof for them I don’t know what else will help them see the truth.

God Bless

There is a fundamental error in the reasoning of the argument that says, “it’s my body, I can do what I please with it”. There is a false assumption that one person’s actions do not effect anyone else, or if the actions do effect someone else, autonomy trumps any secondary consequences of that action. This is usually a viewpoint of people who take a materialist angle to life rather than having any kind of metaphysical outlooks on the world. It’s a viewpoint that says, if I don’t directly harm you then I have not effected you enough to take you into consideration before my action. I think such a viewpoint is immature, unwise, rash and can show a lack of self-respect. Every action has consequences that cannot be known to anyone at the time. Making consequential decisions, like ‘should I sell my body’, in a vacuum is never going to work.

I really like what you have said here. I don’t want to change the direction of this thread, but I have thought about this many times in regards to Purgatory. As you say “Every action has consequences that cannot be known to anyone at the time.” I often thought that sins could have consequences to others that we would never know about. Shouldn’t we still be responsible for those consequences? Without purgatory how would we ever be aware of these sins against people we never met and how could we repent of these sins?

Don’t want to change the direction of the thread. Maybe one day I will start a new thread about this.

God Bless

All crimes involve someone doing something with his/her body. Take druck driving: pouring alcohol into a glass and swallowing large quantities, then sitting in the driver’s seat, turning the key and placing one’s foot on the gas. Or attempted armed robbery: hands hold a gun while mouth and lips words move as the diaphram moves air to produce sounds known as words, such as, “Stick 'em up!”

No one has absolute rights over whatever they want to do with their body. Society has to draw the line somewhere. Reasonable people can disagree where exactly to draw the line, but arguing that there is no line is just silly.

As to some of the specific examples, setting morals aside: consider public health laws. Laws require food services workers to wash hands after using the bathroom. In the interest of public health, numerous laws tell people what they can or cannot do with their bodies.

We are not sovereign in our bodies. Full stop.

We will not even be able, one day to tell our bodies not to die.

As regards the society: I am not allowed to walk my body around nude, or put restricted substances into my body; so why should abortion or sexuality assume a “right” that exists in no other context?

ICXC NIKA

Bible Quote of St Paul’s writing in the New Testament:
“Did you know your body is not your own? That Jesus has bought you with a dear price. That your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Sinning against ones own body is a sin like no other. All other sins are committed outside the body, against others. But sins of impurity are against ones own body, and against the Holy Spirit who dwells within you.”

I can show concern for someone whom is in the business of prostitution against her own will but when it isn’t then I am not one to judge. Same with someone changing gender or abortion or what have you.

Rights to bodies is a phrased used when violating a person’s body even if that body is ones own. Be it a woman violating a baby’s body by killing it while asserting her own right, or a right to own another body in slavery or trade. And that is what prostitution is. The selling of a body. It doesn’t really matter if it’s the person selling thier body or a slave master buying one.

Who’s “business” it is does not seem to be relevant to the question of whether or not some behaviour is moral. The argument seems to be at “cross-purposes”.

Thank you for posting this.

There is also a new television series called “Border Wars” and they show the Border Patrol intercepting people crossing into the United States illegally. The women describe what they are put through by the criminal cartels in Mexico. It’s worth watching.

Some good posts here, but ultimately it comes down to how a society chooses to best deal with crimes like this, and how effective they are.

Prostitution has been around for a long time and probably more of it happening today than ever before, so in that sense, our approach in trying to stop it or slow it down, has been a miserable failure, like many other crimes as well, the laws and societies approach in dealing with them, has also failed drastically.

At some point, its time to try something else, surely there are some smart people in the world today that can suggest new ways to fight crime, ways that would be more effective than what we already tried.

We need to get past the medieval ‘commit a crime and get punished for it’ mentality.

Suggested reading: “No Man is an Island.” The prostitute solicits another into the occasion or into actual sin. The concupiscible appetites, desires of the flesh, involve moral acts which give pleasure and utility. Beware the acts which only produces bodily pleasure.

A person cannot change their gender only mutilate themselves.

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.