Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A Sex-Negative Society

I was at an AIDS conference with World Vision in 2003. World Vision has an approach to AIDS similar to the Ugandan government's. It's called the ABC strategy. A-abstinence, B-be faithful, and C-condoms. Education is geared around teaching young people to be abstinent, married people to remain faithful, but for those who are unable or unwilling to do A or B, they are taught to use condoms. The approach has helped Uganda decrease their AIDS rate drastically.

While there, I met an Anglican priest from Uganda who is HIV positive and was a leader in the ministry. A group called Concerned Women for America (CWA) passed out literature condemning World Vision's promotion of condoms on moral grounds. After my new acquaintence read the literature that they passed out, he openly wept. "Don't they see how unloving this is?" he said. "What about women who are married to someone who they suspect may be HIV positive? Or those who are resort to prostitution to feed their children?" I thought to myself "Yes indeed, not to mention those who choose what society calls an immoral lifestyle. Where is the compassion in holding information that could save their life?”

This is a good example of a sex-negative society or culture which is common in the church. A standard is set that sex is bad except in narrow circumstances. Even if someone is faced with a life-threatening disease, people are not told to try to protect themselves or their partners, only to follow the strict standard. The narrow view of groups like CWA ignores the complexities and realities of human relationships and sexual behavior and says "Accept our standards or risk getting a incurable disease." There is no room for different views on the standard or allowing someone time to become ready to change their behavior.


Nancy said...

I like your views; they are well thought out and reveal the fact that you're seeing the big picture. I look forward to hearing more of your discussion on the bible and sexuality. Christianity has pegged sex as dirty and immoral, which is such a shame, because our sexuality is part of what defines us. I often wonder what our society would be like today if Christian teachings taught us to respect and nurture our sexuality rather than supress and reject it.

Michael said...

Nancy, you're right about Christianity's views on sexuality, with some rare exceptions. The church has not allowed open discussion about sex and when it is allowed, it is only under narrow, controlled conditions. Typically only in the context of monogamous traditional marriage and with the constraints of traditional values. As my studies have indicated, however, these traditions are often not biblical.