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Topics: Marriage, Public Square

Compassion in an Age of Paying for Sex

October 22, 2013

Woman close up

By Derick Dickens

“If no one is harmed, why should you care?”

Used as a tool to advocate a number of issues from prostitution, legalizing drugs, to homosexual marriage, the “no harm” argument has found a new potency in the modern political arena.  However, the end results will be devastating.

One issue often advanced by the “no harm” adherents is prostitution.  Heralded as a victimless crime that provides economic benefits and commerce, they advance the idea “no one is harmed”, and, “it is between two consenting adults” to weaken opposition and supposedly bolster their own arguments.

However, the “no harm” philosophy misunderstands the nature of harm, the role of individual choices, and the impact these choices have on others and society.  “No harm” arguments are often a smokescreen hiding the real issues.

Despite this being a choice between two supposedly consenting adults, both society and individuals are harmed by prostitution.

Here are some basic statistics that should give reason to pause.  The average age for girls entering prostitution is fourteen.  With 9 out of 10 women wanting to get out of prostitution but unable, prostitution is not a universal choice.

Also, the culture it creates is detrimental.  Over 73% of prostitutes report being raped– 53% raped five or more times, the highest rates among women ever studied.  Prostitutes are murdered 20 times higher than the general population.  And 60% of prostitutes have been physically assaulted.  A study of 9 countries found 68% of prostitutes suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  These results are consistent whether the prostitute operates in a place where prostitution is legal or illegal.  Finding themselves in a spiraling scenario of disease and suffering, few prostitutes desire to remain a prostitute.

In an interview, one prostitute noted, “It is internally damaging. You become in your own mind what these people do and say with you. You wonder how could you let yourself do this and why do these people want to do this to you?”

We should not ignore the plight of little girls and women with flippant statements, but in care and compassion work to help rescue these girls from the tragedy of prostitution.

But if we ignore the individual plight of women, like many who advance the “no harm” argument, society as a whole will suffer.

In Germany, Nevada, and several Australian Provinces, where there is legalized prostitution, there is also an increase in illegal prostitution and sex trafficking.  The promiscuous view of society has fostered a climate that makes the sex slave trade more prominent and rampant.  Despite strict laws against the sex slave trade and commitments from governments to combat these vices, making prostitution legal only expands these vices and places more women in harm’s way.  The evidence shows that legalizing prostitution does not make prostitution safe but more prevalent.

On the other hand, in places with strict rules against prostitution, like Sweden, the laws have mostly truncated sex trafficking into their country while seeing fewer prostitutes and less crime.

Legalizing prostitution will not make it safer or healthier, it will make it more toxic and destructive.  Prostitution is a cancer, the more we allow the faster it grows and destroys.

Only in an upside down world can we see prostitution as neutral to the individual and society.  It destroys the fabric of marriage, the foundation of society, and the integrity of men and women.  In reality, there is not a part of society where the cancer will not destroy.

However, some believe the financial gains are worth it.  As Christians, we should not be like the materialists and relegate our decisions to a balance sheet or the philosophy of hyper-individualism prevalent in our society.  Life is not merely debits and credits that you plug into a spreadsheet where you allow every vice and evil if only you can obtain a profit.  Some may obtain a profit while destroying the very soul of society.

Let’s not prostitute the prostitutes by legalizing, institutionalizing, and taxing their work.  Rather, let’s show them the same love Jesus showed the woman caught in adultery, and then point them to the cross so they will have the power to go and sin no more.

Derick Dickens has an MBA in Leadership, MDiv, and MA in Religion.  He speaks regularly on topics ranging from Christian Worldview issues to business leadership, and he is a Professor of Business and Human Resources.  Married for 15 years to his wife Lacie, they have three children and live in Lynchburg Virginia.  You can follow Derick on Twitter at

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