This discussion has gotton somewhat out of control and I now find myself repeating myself over and over again in different comment threads. So I'm compiling the most common stuff and reposting it here so that I can point a link at this post instead of retyping everything yet again. I'll update this post as necessary to include new frequently reposted stuff.
1) What is your basic position? in America, we should not pass laws where the primary concern is morality; we should only pass laws which have civil values as their primary concern.
Important caveat: I do think that morality can and should inform our laws. But still the primary motivation of our laws must remain civil value. As a result, morality is usually present in our laws, and as such some argue that we legislate morality all the time. But I still insist that most of our laws can be said to have civil values as their primary purpose and morality as a secondary purpose. Certainly, if there are two versions of a law available and they are equal in civil value, but one version is moral and the other not, then we should without a doubt go with the moral version.
Jeremy notes that when I say "we should not legislate morality", I am using the word 'morality' in a quirky way--that I use it to mean something more like 'merely religious' and as such I don't categorize something as moral (i.e. merely religious) if it has civic value. Also, he points out that I'm using the terms 'morality' and 'civil value' in a mutually exclusive manner. While I'm not sure I would have put it exactly this way, I can't currently think of a better way of putting it, so I'll let it stand.
2) What counts as civil value? Civil values in this case are values which either ensure the safety/order of society (think traffic laws and zoning laws) or the more important values of freedom, democracy, equality, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc. which are laid out in our Founding Documents (Constitution and Dec of Ind). Note: this latter category trumps the safety/order laws.
3) If we rely only on civil values, won't we have to get rid of [insert example law here]? Generally no. The following is a list of laws that would remain unscathed and why they have civil value:
a) Murder: Life is a primary civil value laid out in our Founding documents.
b) Rape: Consent in sex is a civil vaule based on safety and orderly society as well as liberty and pursuit of happiness.
c) Pedophilia: Minors are unable to give consent to sex.
d) Bestiality: Non-humans are unable to give consent to sex.
e) Illegal drugs: Safety and orderliness of society give ample reason to restrict most illegal drug use. For those illegal drugs where those are not issues, I think those restrictions should be rethought and/or repealed. Also, I'm not sure how you even make a purely moral arguement for restriction of illegal drugs. Why does this one keep coming up?
f) Prostitution: Actually, this one has many merits on why it should be legal. Why shouldn't consenting adults engage in sex with the exchange of money and/or goods? Affairs are legal. Premarital sex is legal. Why should they become illegal when economics is thrown in. But if you want a civil value that would retain this restriction, then you could argue that prostitution is demeaning or objectifying to women and thus violates equality, a basic civil virtue.
g) Gambling: Ummm...this one is already legal.
h) Polygamy/Polyandry: There is a simple order-of-society issue here. If everyone were free to have multiple spouses, then by the six-degrees principle we'd soon end up with much of the population as one familial unit. This would wreak havok on any sort of census taking or benefits giving.
i) Abortion: Abotion is easily restricted by the civic value of life for persons, presuming that you believe that fetuses and embryos are both alive and persons. Inasmuch as those beliefs are in debate, the legality of abortion should be in debate. Abortion laws need not rely on morality as their prime motivator.
j) Sodomy: Ummmm...also already legal in most juristictions.
z) Incest: Incest is a grayer area in my philosophy, but laws restricting them are far from untenable. Again, it comes back to consent. With parent/child incest, where both are adults and willing, it would appear that there is consent. But that is not necessairly the case. Just as it is unethical (illegal in some places?) for a psychologists or lawyers or teachers or doctors or commanding officers to sleep with their patients/clients/students/soldiers because the power balance makes the consent/coersion line too blurry, so the power imbalance between a parent and child makes consent iffy. This also goes for uncle/niece and aunt/nephew (and uncle/nephew and aunt/niece) relationships. This does not hold so well for cousin/cousin relationships. Nor for sibling relationships. Admittedly this is an area that needs work in my philosophy. But I do not think that it is a fatal flaw.
This is the weakest point in my political philosophy, and thus I expect some hammering away at this point. But please do not dismiss my entire philosophy based on one (what I see as minor) weakness. Especially as incest in not the primary point of these posts, homosexual marriage is. You can hammer me some other time on this point.
4) Do you see the Bible the ultimate source of authority? Also: Can you show from the Bible that we should base our laws on civil virtue and not on morality? Yes, I see the Bible as the ultimate source of authority. And no I cannot directly show that the Bible supports the idea that nations should base their laws on civil values.
However, I also think that the Bible shows no evidence that God expects nations other than Israel to base its laws on Scripture. When Christ says "Render unto Caesar..." he legitimizes the Roman government and, by extention, laws that that are in no way based on Scripture. As such that stands as indirect proof that nations other than Israel can and should have a non-Biblical basis for their legal systems.
5) Why do you keep talking about Theocracy? Because I think that that is the logical end of legislating morality. I think that there can be no true morality seperate from Christ. Thus to require a nation to act morally is to first require them to follow Christ. To insist that all immoral things should be illegal is to insist on Theocracy as the quintisential immoral act is to worship other gods.