A big brouhaha has erupted over the Pope’s recent statement that condoms do not prevent the spread of AIDS but actually exacerbate the problem. Not surprisingly, the media is up in arms. Take a look at this commentary from Roland Martin for CNN (his comments in bold, my comments in red):
The church has long been opposed to the use of condoms and other forms of birth control because it strongly believes that sex is for procreation and enriching the union of a married couple.
Interestingly, the original version of this article stated “that sex is for procreation only.” I guess someone told Mr. Martin what the Church actually teaches regarding the unitive and procreative aspects of sexual relations. Would it have been too much for him to look this up in the Catechism before he wrote this initially, though?
But for the church to continue to ignore the definitive research that condoms play a huge role in decreasing the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases is mind-boggling.
Note that he refers to none of this research, but just calls it “definitive.” This is a classic way to silence opposition: simply state something as fact and assume that fact throughout your argument.
Here in DC, we just found out that 3% of the population has HIV. This is a staggering number, and note that DC has led the way in pushing condoms and clean needles to people to slow the rate of HIV/AIDS. The “definitive research” isn’t helping much in the nation’s capital, I’d say.
Pope Benedict is in Africa this week on a six-day tour, his first since his ascension to the papacy, and he made some remarks that have sparked outrage in the motherland, where Catholicism is spreading like wildfire.
Outrage from whom? American elites traveling with the Pope? Nowhere does he mention actual Africans expressing “outrage.”
He is absolutely correct that condoms are not the solution to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS. He is also 100 percent correct that the only surefire way of stopping HIV/AIDS, when it comes to sex, is to practice abstinence. That is clearly within the teachings of the Bible and the Catholic Church, and he will find no disagreement from me.
Now the reality.
Wait a minute – how is abstinence being 100% effective and consistent with biblical teaching not “reality”? Martin is trying to make it appear that the teachings of the Bible and the Church are simply impossible to follow. If this were true, God would be a cruel tyrant, creating us to be fulfilled by living a certain way, but knowing it is impossible to do so.
The “reality” is that millions of people through the centuries have lived according to the Church’s teaching regarding sexual morality. Yes, many others have not, but you cannot ignore millions of people and call it “reality.”
People are having sex. Catholics are having sex. Heck, some Catholic priests have abandoned their oath and have had sex.
And who exactly is questioning this?
As a layman and the husband of a pastor, I know the difference between utopia and reality, and it is the responsibility of the faith community to deal with the real world.
And frankly, Pope Benedict clearly shows he doesn’t get it.
What we need today are our church leaders preaching, teaching and imploring their members not to go to bed with anyone and everyone. We also need church leaders who are willing to stand up and tell folks that if they do choose to sin — that’s what the church and other faith leaders consider sex outside of marriage — then you had better take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.
Here is where Martin’s problems really take off. Martin admits that pastors should tell people to remain monogamous. But they should also tell their flocks to be careful when they disobey the first command. Follow Rule 1 and when you disobey Rule 1, follow Rule 2. Why would anyone bother following such a person? Where else in life is this logical?
“Kids, don’t do drugs.”
“But when you do take drugs, be sure to only get it from respectable dealers.”
Folks, there is nothing in the Bible about wearing a seat belt. But it would be foolish of any pastor not to tell his or her members to use the safety device when driving. Churches all across the country trust and love their fellow members, but you can bet that an accountant is employed by many churches to ensure that no one is stealing the tithes and offerings.
Martin’s analogies are embarrassing. We don’t wear a seat belt because of our sinful actions – we wear them because of accidents and because other people might drive recklessly. Even though I drive safely I know I can make mistakes and other drivers can be crazy – that’s why I wear a seat belt. Choosing to have sex with another person is a conscious, pre-meditated decision (let’s leave rape out of the equation for now). Unlike auto accidents, one can avoid sex if he so desires.
Sex is not some random occurrence, like getting in an accident. You don’t walk by a lady in the street and “accidentally” have sex with her. You choose to do it.
Pope Benedict surely loves God and sees him as his protector and provider, but he goes nowhere without armed bodyguards. The pope has to know that murder is against God’s will. He has to believe that every person has the choice to be a moral and upstanding person. Yet not everyone abides by those religious views, and his security is there to prevent him from being harmed.
So how are condoms any different?
O let me count the ways. Again, Martin acts like sex is something that happens to you, instead of something that you choose to do. The Pope has bodyguards because he knows that others might attempt to kill him and he can’t stop them from wanting to do so. But each person can choose whether they have sex with someone.
While Catholicism expands on the continent of Africa, we are seeing the expansion of HIV/AIDS as well. Sub-Saharan Africa has 22 million people infected with HIV.
The refusal of the Catholic Church and other religious denominations to accept the reality of the situation on the ground is doing nothing for the issue. If the church used its powerful voice — while continuing to speak out against sex outside of marriage — to also implore people to practice safe sex, it could have a major impact on slowing the spread of the disease.
First of all, name one religious denomination other than the Catholic Church that condemns the use of condoms.
Also, I can’t believe the logic of this idea. If people are not listening to the Church when it comes to abstinence, why would they listen when it comes to condoms?
“Honey, the Church says we shouldn’t sleep together, but I don’t care what they think. However, they say we should use a condom, so we really should follow that command.”