Valentine's Day is fast approaching. What a perfect time to talk about condoms.
Catholic and Jewish teachings oppose the use of condoms. For Catholics it is based on opposition to contraception. Normative Judaism permits women to only take precautions to avoid pregnancy but that excludes condoms.
In the beginning, when God created Adam and Eve and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply, the human population was infinitesimal. Disease, especially sexually transmitted infections, had not yet come into the world.
It is the 21st century. Our population is in the billions -- seven to be precise. Too many of our people live in extreme poverty. Infant mortality is too high. Too many mothers are dying in childbirth. Children are growing up seeking food in garbage dumps. And too many people are dying from sexually transmitted infections.
We need to come together and rethink the meaning of "Choose life for you and your seed." We need to think of condoms as disease preventers, rather than just contraception. We need to think about the infections we can reduce and perhaps eliminate with the use of condoms as well as the number of people we can save.
It was back in November that I read a report from Tom Blackwell about a new type of condom that is treated with a silver solution. This solution, the result of nanotechnology, turns condoms into disease killers. The University of Manitoba has experimented with silver nanoparticles and reported that these condoms appear to kill HIV and herpes in lab experiments."The infectiousness of the virus could be completely inactivated."
Condoms have a 15% failure rate, yet these specially treated condoms still prevent the transmission of disease. Dr. Xiaojian Yao, medical microbiologist and lead author of the study is also hopeful that these silver-treated condoms will prevent the spread of sexually transmitted illnesses in countries like India, developing countries, where children scavenging in garbage dumps come into contact with used condoms.
Sexually transmitted infections travel around the world, faster than ever before. Untreated STIs lead to infertility and death, especially in our young people, so many of whom seem to be ignorant of the many ways that STIs are transmitted. We are all aware of the fact that young people engage in risky behaviour. The prefrontal cortex of the brain, the part that deals with mature thinking, does not completely develop until the late teens, early 20s.
Young people engage in risky behaviour partly because of that lack of maturity in the brain. It is our responsibility to help them stay healthy. Not only do we need to educate them, we need to encourage them to use condoms if they are going to engage in risky behaviour. We already make them wear helmets and seatbelts, and deny them access to tobacco and alcohol until they are 19. Why would we let them play Russian roulette with their sexual health and well-being?
Walking in God's ways includes being co-creators with God. There are some amongst us who with God's grace have been given wisdom that helps to save lives, especially the vulnerable. With the knowledge we have now about STIs, it is incumbent upon us to share it with the world, even if the information that we have contradicts a particular doctrine or creed of a particular religion. The Judeo-Christian ethic demands of us that we care for the weak, the oppressed and that we provide for the sick. We can now prevent sickness that we could not prevent before. It is our obligation to remove the stumbling blocks that keep us from providing the best health care possible.
Have a happy and safe Valentine's Day.