This has sparked some anger in Africa, especially in the Sub-Sahara region where AIDS and HIV is more prevalent then anywhere else on Earth. The Pope has repeatedly made statements that : "You can't resolve it (AIDS/HIV) with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem."
I am a bit confused by this statement. Does it increase the problem because it gives people a somewhat false sense of security when having sex that they are completely protected from HIV? Sure, Condoms are only effective ~90% of the time against pregnancy, so it would beg to reason that it would be less then 100% effective at containing and stopping the transmission of AIDS. However, I find it extremely interesting and somewhat disturbing that in an area as hard hit as this, the Pope has not only upheld what he has said previously, but has made the statement that condoms only make it worse? From a religious standpoint, I completely see where the Catholic church is coming from. They preach against not only pre-marital sex, but against contraception because they believe God wants us to procreate, but from a social and scientific perspective, it seems asinine to tell people in the hardest hit portions of the world by AIDS not to protect themselves even if they will probably die from there religious decision? It becomes less about morals and more about self preservation in my opinion. Someone from that region could do everything right, marry a good woman, etc. and still die from having unprotected sex with his wife. In this environment, a person could be a virgin and still be born with HIV, nullifying abstinence's protections for them against AIDS. Sadly, there is little balance on this issue when it comes to the "church", not even including Catholics. These are the standards and morals, and even if they do die from the HIV/AIDS rampaging through the region, they were "living right" and holding to what they believe in. A bigger issue here is that most denominations will keep mum about protecting yourself in situations such as this because as far as they are concerned, shouldn't be engaging in pre-marital sex to begin with. Abstinence is still the teachings of the day, with little or no adaptation to help or minister to those who have "already taken the plunge." I am honestly conflicted on this personally, because I know the counter argument here is that if the church begins to say "well, you should be abstinent until you are married, but in case you end up having a better prom night then you expected, be sure and wear a condom" the entire strength of message and evangelism falls apart, or at the very least is weakened. The last thing a religious instution or denomination wants to do is show vacillation in where it stands or allow a topic as important as this to be open to interpretation, so they put up the concrete barrier of abstinence and abstinence alone. I honestly don't know how the church should deal with this, and am glad I am not in a position where I am required to figure out a solution, but, I do see, that at the expense of the church standing firm on this, many young people are dying and suffering due to not being better educated and helped by their church family. These topics should be discussed openly within the church, not brushed under a rug. I would think that in topics such as this, the church would want to put forth Biblical (or extrabiblical counsel) to help the youth in this serious issue within their lives. I strongly feel that in my denomination (SDA) these topics will HAVE to be dealt with, and I have come to the realization that the current generation in power will not be the ones to do it. It will have to be my generation. Thanks for reading.