What is the harm principle? It shows up in different places but probably the most famous is from John Stuart Mill:
That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.The second part is usually left out but it is important. Mill intended this principle to apply to government only but a lot of people also want to apply this to any moral teachings at all. They want to say that no moral teaching should consist of anything but preventing me from doing harm to others. Under this way of thinking it would follow that if it isn't hurting anyone else then it should be strictly between me and my conscience.
Perhaps the tritest version of this is the "Wiccan Rede":
"An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will"This was made up out of whole cloth by a con artist named Gerald Gardner who, as you can see from the above, was fond of fake archaic language along the lines of "Ye Olde Fudge Shoppe", and about as authentic. (What he was most interested in was exploiting women sexually and he made up the entire Wiccan religion as a way to help him do that but that is another story.)
Anyway, this can rendered in real English as something like, "Do whatever you want so long as it doesn't hurt anybody else."
Okay, but aren't use supposed to be a libertine Jules? Isn't this the sort of thing you should believe in? I believe that sensual pleasures are a positive good that God gave us. I believe we should enjoy food, sex and leisure. I don't believe that translates into anything like do whatever you want so long as nobody else gets hurt.
Jesus didn't teach us to not hurt one another, he taught us to love one another. This may seem a trivial point but we have to love ourselves before we can love others. To love myself is to want what is best for myself. It means that I have to do some things because they are good for me. And as imperfect as it is, I believe the Catholic church has a not just a right but also a duty to teach us what is best for us (and this remains true even though the church will inevitably get things wrong now and then). Any interpretation of the Golden Rule that suggests otherwise is just wrong.