December 1st is World AIDS Day and it is held every year to help raise awareness about the spread of the HIV virus. Prevention of the disease always seems to center around the use of condoms which Christine Emba at First Thoughts notes is problematic for the Catholic Church (and others who promote abstinence).
In advance of this year’s World AIDS Day, Craig McClure, Chief of the HIV & AIDS Section for UNICEF hosted an “Ask Me Anything” live chat on Reddit. As one might expect, the majority of questions centered around AIDS transmission, prevention, and treatment. More surprising (and perhaps disheartening) were the number of questions asking, in one form or another, how much the teachings of the Catholic Church and other religious organizations contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDS.
McClure neatly sidestepped any potential landmines, saying only that “Condoms are one of the most important interventions to prevent HIV infection – safer sex is critical to ending AIDS.” A few anonymous commenters later suggested, wrongly, that the pope had approved the use of condoms for preventing AIDS.
And here we have a clash of worldviews. Emba used an illustration by moral philosopher Janet Smith to illustrate how the Catholic Church’s (among others) stand is addressing a larger problem.
If someone was going to rob a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would be better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it [for that] would reduce the likelihood of fatal injuries. But it is not the task of the Church to instruct potential bank robbers how to rob banks more safely and certainly not the task of the Church to support programs of providing potential bank robbers with guns that could not use bullets. Nonetheless, the intent of a bank robber to rob a bank in a way that is safer for employees and customers of the bank may indicate an element of moral responsibility that could be a step towards eventual understanding of the immorality of bank robbing.
Brilliant! True prevention will occur when people understand (and embrace) Christian teaching behind human sexuality. Handing out condoms, while better than going without, is encouraging people to play Russian Roulette with this and many other sexually-transmitted diseases.