A few days ago, I summarized and linked to an argument by Joab on his blog in favor of legalization of marijuana and prostitution. I agreed with him on marijuana, arguing as a Christian citizen here.

Regarding prostitution. I understand the points Joab made regarding the continuing demand for prostitution, and that the social cost of prostitution being less if all states used the Nevada model. But, I have decided I cannot support legalized prostitution.

It seems to me that a bedrock belief of American culture is that each individual has a inherent dignity. (Yes, I know as well as you the history of how we have denied dignity top various groups, but, that has been/is being overcome through appeal to this core value.) The belief in intrinsic human dignity means that the human person never can be reduced simply to a commodity, without injustice being done. Even if one does this to oneself, it is still injustice to violate one's own intrinsic dignity and worth.

That means that I believe in limits to capitalism. The worth of workers must be respected. (I am pro-union as an ideal, and both pro and con in real life.) I also think it is to treat a human being merely as a commodity to allow the poor to sell one of their duplicate organs (say, a kidney) to the wealthy, or to allow a suicidal person to sell all organs.

Exchanging sex for money differs from exchanging your time and talents for money by doing accounting or picking up trash. There is an intimacy, a link to the deepest self, in sex. Selling sex is more like selling yourself than hiring out your time. It is to reduce yourself to a commodity.

I think legalized prostitution goes against a core value of our society. And, if you assert that this core value has religious roots and so should be banished from the public square, I will argue that you are making an illegitimate claim. Religion, considered as a system of beliefs, is indistinguishable from philosophy considered as a way of life.