The three uses of the law is catechism 101. The first use is the curb or the civil use of the law. What that used to mean was simply that the vices contained in the 2nd tablet of the law (murder, adultery, theft, false testimony, covetousness of all kinds) would find a suitable expression in civil law. Civil society can’t thrive where these things are allowed. As Paul would say the state is present to carry out wrath on the wrong-doer (Rom 13:4). They are there for the good, and the good is defined as being the judge applying the curb to the worst of our sinful nature. The state does not or should not get involved in mandating the positive force of the law (i.e. when Jesus says hating you brother is murder, that does not say that the state should carry out punishment on hate. Loving your brother is the positive force of don’t murder. The state is the curb to prevent actual murder.)
This is Rod Dreher on the Dutch experiment with legalized prostitution.
The Dutch government hoped to play the role of the honourable pimp, taking its share in the proceeds of prostitution through taxation. But only 5 per cent of the women registered for tax, because no one wants to be known as a whore — however legal it may be. Illegality has simply taken a new form, with an increase in trafficking, unlicensed brothels and pimping; with policing completely out of the picture, it was easier to break the laws that remained. To pimp out women from non-EU countries, desperate for a new life, remains illegal. But it’s never been easier…Legalisation has not been emancipation. It has instead resulted in the appalling, inhuman, degrading treatment of women, because it declares the buying and selling of human flesh acceptable.
Now, if the good Dutch had actually been paying attention in Catechism, even in those Calvinistic Reformed churches, this would have been a “no brainer”. But, our post-modern world says all is interpretation. So, we can’t and shouldn’t legislate morality. Which is utter hocum and not what our all encomassing and progressive states do anyway. Will you ever get rid of prostitution? No, it is the worlds oldest profession for a reason. But the purpose of the state is a curb. When you ignore the basic purpose and instead try and legislate morality of the positive what you end up with is an appalling mess. By legislating good works (say hate speech codes, or in the sexual realm handing out birth control and advertising for “safe sex”) but ignoring actual vice the state has abdicated what has actually been given to it. And the populace, staring with the poorest and most vulnerable, pay the price.
The law of God is good and wise. We can’t keep it, but it has not been set aside, only fulfilled in Christ.