Missing an Opportunity
December 1, 2002 6:18 PM   Subscribe

Missing an Opportunity: One thing not discussed at the world AIDS conference was the impact Christians, acting in accordance with a biblical worldview, can have on this crisis.
posted by jasontromm (13 comments total)
if the biblical worldview means chastity alone, as the article says, then it has no relevance to the vast majority of the world's adults. Even the church's reverends, ministers and priests aren't able to be chaste, so why should that be considered as a workable answer to an epidemic that is killing so many people?
posted by amberglow at 6:43 PM on December 1, 2002

If we're going to talk about a biblical worldview, I'll bring your attention to Mattheew, Chapter 25, Verse 35-45:

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: i was a stranger, and ye took me in
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

posted by jonmc at 6:53 PM on December 1, 2002

Exactly, amberglow.

If you wish to discuss how religion could help, I'd suggest talking to the Vatican, and trying to get them to lift their ban on prophylactics and other contraceptives. That would probably be a greater contribution than preaching something that even in the most religious societies isn't practised (ahem) religiously.

People should learn how to protect themselves, by using a condom, by having few sexual partners, by being careful around blood and other bodily fluids.

Besides; sex isn't something you should be afraid of, or be shameful about. Sex is good. Sex is fun. Sex is love. And sex is harmless - if you protect yourself.
posted by cx at 6:57 PM on December 1, 2002

It also has no relevance in any society which wishes to confer universal human rights on its gay citizens - who are, by all accounts, likely to engage in risky behaviours.

Just say no: it's worked before. NOT!!!!!
posted by dash_slot- at 6:58 PM on December 1, 2002

The link--couldn't help but note the link to Rush Limbaugh calling Tom Dachle a traitor--cited was from Chuck Colon's prison crusade citing a prochastity commercial broadcast in Uganda, which then took credit for Uganda's success in lowering its rate of new infections.

But then look at the fine print from a fair and balanced source with no ideological ax to grind:

So far, the virus is winning, but it need not win. In Uganda, which formerly had one of the worst HIV epidemics in Africa, bombarding the population with education about safe sex and widespread monitoring appear to have had striking effects not only on halting the spread of the virus but in changing sexual behaviour. During the first half of the 1990s, the percentage of mothers testing HIV positive almost halved in some areas. The proportion of 15 to 19-year-old women who said they had never had sex rose from 26 per cent to 46 per cent. The proportion of men using a condom rose from 15 per cent to 55 per cent.

Poll after poll of American parents and teenagers show that the overwheming majority of both want comprehensive factual education, including factual. comprehensive instruction of safe sex, and not programs with an obvious ideological religious bias, funded with taxpayer money in defiance of the principle of separation of church and state. What worked in Uganda was sex education and increased condom use. The figures for chastity are important--rising from 26% to 46%--and education that includes and advocates it is a must. However, had it been the abstinence only ad alone, Uganda's rate of AIDS infection would have been higher.

Remember, too, that American children, taught abstinence only, are more likely to have sex without precautions, and therefore a far greater risk for STD infection, including AIDS, which shows another side of what Biblical thinking can do: endanger children.

Anything less than a full and comprehensive campaign of education that includes safe sex along with factual balanced promotion of chastity--as opposed to distorted, fear mongering, information distorting and censoring abstinence only campaigns--is nothing less than a crime and moral outrage. Unless you think Tom Daschle's a traitor.
posted by y2karl at 7:41 PM on December 1, 2002

I mean, Unless you think Tom Daschle's a traitor. Or is that unless you live under a bridge?
posted by y2karl at 7:47 PM on December 1, 2002

Well said, y2k. [...but starving the trolls can include not pointing at them, too...]
posted by dash_slot- at 7:56 PM on December 1, 2002

Sex is good. Sex is fun. Sex is love. And sex is harmless - if you protect yourself.

Unless it's rape. Which is one of the major reasons AIDS is so widespread in Africa. Soldiers on one side rape the women of the other side, and vice-versa, and most of them aren't too focused on using condoms while they do it. South Africa at this point has the highest rape rate of any nation on earth, with I believe 1 in 2 women being seriously sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.

Another major reason is polygamous relations in which one man has children with many women at once (usually a wife and several girlfriends). If anyone in that circle contracts HIV, it's almost certain the others will. Since the man wants many children, they're obviously not going to use condoms no matter how free they are.

While I agree that better sexual education and wider condom distribution would help, it's important to realise that there are social aspects to the transmission of AIDS in Africa that mean that condom distribution alone isn't going to do much. If Christian groups want to go in and convert people to pre-marital chastity and marital fidelity, I see little reason to stop them.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:09 PM on December 1, 2002

Not being a Catholic myself and not listening too closely when Catholic centered news is on, I can only vaguely remember a recent story in the news about Catholic aid to Africa. If I remember right, it mentioned that a very large number of the AIDS patients in Africa that are currently receiving treatment are getting it via Catholic services. It mentioned that the situation would be far graver than it already is if it weren't for their help.

Has anyone else seem or heard anything like this?
posted by Plunge at 8:21 PM on December 1, 2002

This article in the Kansas City Star has some interesting items in it regarding the focus the Vatican has towards AIDS. I didn't know this, but according to this article, "the Vatican tried to take the initiative in dealing with the AIDS epidemic by sponsoring an international conference on AIDS, the first of its kind."

The article starts out talking about AIDS in the priesthood then goes on about other things.
posted by ashbury at 8:51 PM on December 1, 2002

Your points on sexuality have merit, and are a short list at that, Pseudephedrine, for there is also strange superstitions like that driving rape in South Africa--the idea that having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS--or dry sex or the prostitution that has grown up along the trucking network in East Africa.

Note, too, that the constant warfare going on in Central Africa. The armies involved have rates of infection far above the highest national figures, ranging perhaps into the 80 precentile. Add to that the inevitable camp followers and you have a pandemic amplifier

I would suggest that long term, structured economic development via aid from the Western nations would be of more use in easing the underlying causes of war and economic dislocation than a few missionaries.

Promoting chastity or condoms becomes a bit ironic when at the same time it fights the AIDS crisis, Uganda is promoting population growth.
posted by y2karl at 9:29 PM on December 1, 2002

A bit ironic? Makes sense to me. If I were promoting population growth I would would be fighting the AIDS Crisis big time (wait a minute... maybe I don't mean that...).
posted by wobh at 11:09 PM on December 1, 2002

I agree; I think followers of Jesus Christ can play a role. What I disagree with is that preaching chastity is the answer. I think this will have little effect. People don't need to hear that not having sex prevents AIDS; they know that. What people need to hear is that Jesus can help you if you just trust him to help you. Jesus changes lives not chastity. Christians, as Jesus' body, have the resposiblity of loving these people in action and with sincerity. Christians need to ask themselves what that means in their own life. Jesus will touch these people through love not preachings on chastity.
posted by grehy at 1:13 PM on December 2, 2002

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