Pope Benedict XVI, just prior to his trip to Africa, has said that condoms are not the answer to the AIDS epidemic in Africa and can make the problem worse. "You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms," the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane heading to Yaounde. "On the contrary, it increases the problem." The pope said a responsible and moral attitude toward sex would help fight the disease....
Now comes the backlash...
Rebecca Hodes with the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa said, "Instead, his opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans."
False dichotomy! It is not a matter of human lives on one hand and religious dogma on the other. Jesus rightly pointed out, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4, NIV) True life and the teaching of the church are inextricably linked.
"Talking about the nonuse of condoms is out of place. We need condoms to protect ourselves against diseases and AIDS," teacher Narcisse Takou said in Yaounde. Stanley Obale Okpu, a civil servant working in the ministry of urban development in Cameroon, said, "You need condoms to prevent AIDS and birth control."
Are they kidding? This is simple logic, folks. The verb "need" has connections with "necessary," and in a strictly logical sense, that which is necessary is a sine qua non, a "without-which-not." For example, oxygen is a necessary cause for the function of human breathing. Without oxygen, a person cannot breathe.
Is Miss Takou serious that condoms are a sine qua non, that people cannot protect themselves against diseases and AIDS without them? Is Mr. Okpu serious that AIDS and births cannot be prevented without condoms? Set aside whether or not you support condom use. These statements are utterly untenable.
Then there is this from syndicated columnist Roland S. Martin, "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."
Well, of course there is research to this effect. No one challenges this, least of all the Pope in his recent statement. He is simply saying that condoms are not the answer. Again, set aside your own feeling on the issue. Mr. Martin is guilty of eisegesis...reading more into the Pope's statement than is there. Carl Spackler, the character Bill Murray played in Caddyshack, could give ample evidence that dynamite plays a huge role in decreasing the spread of gophers on a golf course. A person who suggests that there is a better way to deal with the furry critters is not denying such evidence.
Mr. Martin continues, "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."
I am in slack-jawed amazement. Is his position seriously that pastors should say the equivalent of, "You shouldn't murder, but if you do, be sure to use a silencer and wipe down any prints you may have left to protect yourself from arrest?"