Should people use condoms?
Condoms, sex, HIV and religion
One Monday morning I was one of the new undergraduates who queued to register atMakerereUniversity’sSickBay. Upon registration, I, a practicing Roman Catholic was advised to attend a healthy-sex lesson.
The lesson had two objectives. One was to encourage the male students to use condoms and avoid catching sexually transmitted diseases (STDs – excluding the unknown ‘AIDS’ / ‘HIV’ at the time), which were rampant among the prostitutes within the neighbourhoods popular among university students. The other was to encourage the female students into persuading their male partners to use condoms and avoid unplanned conceptions.
The era of HIV has since then led to both an evolution and differing arguments surrounding the use of condoms. Let me dissect the different elements of the ongoing debate.
Do condoms stop STDs? Yes they do. When I came to theUKone of my nieces wrote me a letter asking why AIDS was rampant inUganda, but not in theUK. I gave her a straight answer – ‘these people use condoms’.UK’s original condom campaign was to minimise unwanted pregnancies particularly among the youth. But, it played a dual role and also controlled the spread of STDs including AIDS. That is why the current campaign targets both factors.
Scenario 1: A husband (wife) finds himself (herself) to be HIV positive. Does (s)he continue having unprotected sex with his (her) wife (husband) or use a condom?
Let me presume that this is a situation where both husband and wife have medically established that only one of them is positive. The least the HIV positive can do for the other is to use a condom – to enable the HIV negative to live on and if they have children, take care of them when the HIV positive eventually goes to rest. The utmost decision would be to abandon sex. However, this opens another dilemma, which is beyond the scope of this discussion.
Anything less than using a condom amounts to committing a sin against the sixth commandment, ‘You Shall not Kill’. It also culminates into a crime against laws and moral values set by various governance establishments.
There are people jumping left and right making reference to verses in religious books such as ‘sawing the seeds’ and ‘go and multiply’ as a justification for not using condoms even in such instances.
My conclusion is simple – anybody fronting this argument lacks common sense, and is potentially a confused hypocrite using religion as an excuse. Why? Because fortunately, the commandments are very clear and have no footnotes. We don’t need experts to (mis)interpret them. You commit a sin when you go against any of them.
However, the verses in religious books are open to people’s subjective (mis)interpretation, including these confused hypocrites. The (mis)interpretation is so subjective that even religious leaders should not claim to have better understanding than anyone else who has brains capable of examining issues in a critical context.
That is why if there is choice and/or conflict between the two, then common sense dictates that the objective commandments override the subjective verses.
Scenario 2: Should married couples use condoms? For simplicity I define marriage to include those who have undertaken any of the three, cultural/administrative/religious recognised ceremonies.
A couple comprise two mature people who hopefully love each other. So, if they jointly agree to use condoms for reasons best known to themselves, that decision should be entirely left to them. Religion has no role, and shouldn’t be allowed to play any role in that decision. Religion shouldn’t micro-manage marriage.
Another group of psychopaths advocate for the right to ‘enjoy’ the (sexual) fruits of marriage, and equate using condoms to having a bath/shower while wearing a raincoat.
I challenge you to take a practical experiment. You will find out that you achieve completely nothing when you bath/shower with a raincoat on. With a condom on the other hand, you will achieve everything except transmitting semen and disease. As the saying goes, ‘Okwelinda ssibuti’ (guarding yourself isn’t timidity)!
Scenario 3: Should the youth abstain from sex or use condoms? The answer to this depends on whether you live in a theoretical or in a practical world.
For as long as they are above the legal age of marriage, they should be treated as adults with full entitlement to their rights/choice – one of them being pre-marriage adventure before settling down if they so wish. But, those who belong to certain religions will be governed by laws therein which can override the rights argument.
In practice however, as elders and leaders in the society we have a social responsibility for these children. It is our duty to continuously make them aware of the dangers surrounding them, and to be constant reminders of the morality expected of them.
The major danger from the above full entitlement to their rights/choice is what nobody discusses – what I call the ‘magic number 3 trust rule’.
When you were younger, did any of your colleagues ever confide in you, and at the same time ‘boast’ of how (s)he first didn’t trust her (him) and had to use a condom, but after the third time started trusting and ceased using it? Where does this magic number 3 rule come from? Isn’t a medical test the only sure way of proving someone’s HIV status and hence restoring trust?
On these grounds, the safest way for our youngsters is to abstain. Condom use is as good as inviting the magic number 3 rule to the party! If this route is pursued, there will always be a ‘minute of madness’ compounded with temptation and trust down the way, which can lead to the obvious devastating irreversible repercussions. So let us use our rhetoric and ‘lock-up’ our children for their own safety. Any of them who ‘breakout’ and become victims should be used as a testimony to the surviving ‘inmates’.