This morning's paper (12-4-01) carries an unsigned editorial on "Condoms: A Secret Weapon in Short Supply." It addresses the issue of AIDS prevention in sub-Saharan Africa. The issue is worthy. The crisis is huge. The pain is unfathomable. And the article is sad. So it must always be when the deepest things in our lives are trivialized by being disconnected from God. Sex is deep. And when it is treated like an unmanageable addiction, rather than a God-honoring gift for marriage, tragedy is added to tragedy.
"Women in Uganda have been hanging their condoms out to dry. They're doing it not because they're ignorant, but because they're desperate. Long acquainted with the lifesaving virtues of latex, many can't imagine taking the risk of unprotected sex. And since condoms are hard to come by in southern Africa, they're forced to experiment with recycling."
This paragraph is full of irony and insult. The insult is that these women are treated like helpless slaves of sexual desire. They are "desperate" without fresh condoms. They "cannot imagine" unprotected sex – or abstinence. They are being "forced" to recycle. And the source of that force? The slave-master sex. This is all incredibly demeaning – as if these women were mere dogs in heat with no higher commitments or self-control.
The irony is that the Star-Tribune is willing to speak of the "virtues" of latex but not the virtues of the women. Latex has lifesaving virtues but the poor sex-driven women? Really? This is a tragic world view: latex, created by man, saves lives by its virtue; women, created in the image of God, are helpless slaves of deadly, indiscriminate sex.
"The condom is a dependable and cheap shield against AIDS."
This is demonstrably false, as many testimonies and experiments have shown. Condoms are not dependable shields against AIDS. They tear. Condoms reduce the risk of death the way fewer bullets reduce the chance that, in a game of Russian Roulette, a bullet will be in the barrel. But one bad spin and you die. I can only celebrate the wisdom of this counsel if someone else is holding the gun. We call that rape. But rapists don't care how many condoms she has in her bag.
"The world needs billions more condoms than it produces. This is another problem that can be solved with money, if only the people who have it will give it."
What the world needs is thousands more editorialists and community leaders and politicians and preachers who have a larger, deeper, wiser vision of humanity than the one that settles for the notion that the poor slaves to passion are going to do it anyway. Monogamous marriage and extramarital abstinence – the profound plan of God for sex – will not wipe out AIDS instantly. But it will eventually. It would be good to hear something deeper from the Star-Tribune than "the world needs billions more condoms."
"No one should die for want of a condom worth a few cents."
Well, that's true. And no one should die for a ten-minute visceral pleasure. And no one should be encouraged to prostitute the sacred gift of sexual union designed by God to display the love of Christ for his Church in the covenant of marriage. It is good to hear the Star-Tribune using the word "should" about human behavior. We may hope that it will find its way into their counsel on sexual behavior.
Eager to see truth and wisdom and Christ-exalting self-control saving lives,