A woman, who requested to withhold her name, holds a sign during a rally to support Toronto sex workers and their rights in Toronto, Friday.
Associated Press/Photo by Mark Blinch (The Canadian Press)
A woman, who requested to withhold her name, holds a sign during a rally to support Toronto sex workers and their rights in Toronto, Friday.

Canadian prostitution and America’s future


The Canadian Supreme Court has struck down our northern neighbor’s federal prostitution laws. There was no affirmation of a right to trade in sex or any moral affirmation of that ancient profession. The unanimous ruling only expressed concern for the effect of the laws on the health and safety of the women involved.

While it may be tempting to say “those crazy Canadians” and get on with things, it brings to mind a lot of craziness on this side of the border, or at least what would have been regarded crazy just a generation ago. (Kids, a generation is the blink of an eye. You’ll understand before long.)

Divorce laws have been disintegrating and toppling at the state level since the 1960s, and Sabbath laws are long gone.

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Many state legislatures and courts have been affirming homosexual marriage. In the culture, or at least in the cultural elite, homosexuality has been entirely normalized and homosexual marriage has become beyond criticism for publically acceptable people. Even a loyal fan base of millions and a wildly popular TV show that supports a $400 million merchandising empire will not shield you from the immediate wrath of that elite—as Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame discovered.

In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the nation’s sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas. Things had changed culturally to the point that these laws seemed “uncommonly silly,” as Justice Clarence Thomas said in his dissent. But high court’s intervention on principled constitutional grounds was legally influential. Earlier this year, the court invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act, thus allowing people in legally sanctioned same-sex marriages to receive federal marriage benefits. Same-sex marriage is legal in 17 states and legally banned in 33.

On the heels of these developments, a federal judge last week invalidated Utah’s prohibition against polygamous “cohabitation.” But we saw this coming. There has been a cultural buildup to it. Big Love turned a happy polygamous family into weekly television entertainment. It was cast of the reality TV show Sister Wives that brought the Utah law suit. Once marriage is understood culturally and defined legally as the recognition of a long-term relational commitment between two loving people engaged in sexual intimacy with no reference at all to reproduction and the interests of children (moral sensibilities and tradition be hanged), there is no dam to hold back the ocean of social and sexual possibilities.

Which brings us to prostitution. If sex is no big deal, which is a common view today, a private matter with consequences of no public concern, why should people not be free to commercialize it? But if one’s daughter were to choose sex worker as her profession, parents would still blanch with horror. On the other hand, it was not long ago that a child who “came out” as gay would elicit the same response. Now it’s common to “support” the darling, then advocate same-sex marriage. Watch for a sitcom or reality show featuring happy hookers in an upcoming season.

D.C. Innes
D.C. Innes

D.C. is associate professor of politics at The King's College in New York City and co-author of Left, Right, and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics (Russell Media). Follow D.C. on Twitter @DCInnes1.


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