CONDOMS AND CHASTITY

by David Sisler

Last week was "National Something Or Another Week." Next week will be "National Something Else Or Another Week." It seems there is always a week to celebrate each week. If we could take an extra day off from work it would be a real cause for celebration, but I don't suppose that is the point.

This week we witnessed the most unusual convergence of "national weeks" imaginable. Valentine's Day was the first day of the National Week of Chastity and National Condom Week. World magazine reported that Condom Week supporters planned a literary reading from the book, Getting It On: A Condom Reader, and a Chastity Week enthusiast proclaimed "truth through the promotion of virtue." National Condom Week has been promoted since 1978, while this is the third annual National Week of Chastity maybe we are finally getting smart.

And then again, maybe not. Daniel Bao, executive director of the Condom Resource Center, Oakland, CA, was quoted in USA Today: "The underlying truth is that the consistent use of condoms is a principal weapon in the war against AIDS and the decline in HIV, and more people need to use them." In the same article Monday, Adam Glickman, founder of Condomania, "America's first condom emporium," acknowledged, "Condoms are about 98 percent effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly (emphasis mine)." That should mean that condoms are no better than 98 percent effective when used correctly in preventing AIDS, a disease which is still 100 percent fatal. Do the promoters of National Condom Week really want us to take that chance?

Mike Falcon and Dr. Stephen A. Shoop, authors of "National Condom Day spotlights safe sex," gave some more statistics: one-fifth of the U.S. population has a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD), two-thirds of all STDs occur in people 25 or younger, one-fourth of new STD infections occur in teenagers, nearly 400,000 Americans currently have AIDS, with approximately 50,000 new cases per year." One more statistic. Condoms are tested for a failure rate of four per 1,000. That means if four out of 1,000 condoms fail, the entire batch is scraped. If three out of 1,000 fail, the batch is passed and sold. And those condoms, which have already had three failures, are only 98 percent effective when remember used correctly. National Condom Week is going to get someone killed.

Of course the use of condoms prevents disease and pregnancy, but if you are standing waist deep in gasoline, would I better serve you by cautioning you to strike a match only while holding it high above your head, as far away from the gasoline as possible, or to warn you, one spark will ignite the gasoline do not strike the match!

Advocates of the National Week of Chastity are ridiculed as Victorian, repressive, behind-the-times, and even mentally unbalanced, and all because they are promoting virtue and values. Chastity is far from old fashioned. It is, Mr. Webster said, "purity in conduct and intention" (how much modern entertainment fails that test?) and "restraint and simplicity in design or expression; personal integrity."

Cathy Brown, coordinator of the National Week of Chastity, told Religion Today, "Chastity is something you embrace in your entire life, from the clothes you wear to the television shows you watch, the way you talk, the company you keep. It's purity, and modesty. Married people also should be chaste, being faithful to your spouse in mind, body, and soul."

Today's cultural ethics promote safe sex, when what they are really promoting is 98 percent safe sex. Middle school children, responding to surveys, reveal that from many directions they are being pressured into becoming sexually active and what twelve-year-old can be counted on to use a condom correctly? Sexual purity is, indeed, old fashioned. It is as old as God's Word. Today's sexually permissive culture, which surrounds us and bombards us, demands that we leave God's standards and follow a life-style of potential destruction. Compromise has become the watch-word of today and because of it, we are killing ourselves with pleasure.

From the 700 year old Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, comes a statement that the promoters of the National Week of Chastity might consider adopting as their slogan next year: "the organs of generation are not subject to the command of reason, as are the ... other external members." That is why the Bible instructs, "prepare your minds for service and have self-control." Self-control is not exhibited in wearing a condom. It is exemplified in sexual abstinence before marriage and sexual fidelity during marriage. Chastity is a life-style, a life-saving life-style. No matter what your history, it is never too late to begin practicing chastity. Practice, upheld by God's strength, makes perfect.

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Published in The Augusta Chronicle 2/19/2000

Copyright 2000 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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