Friday, May 02, 2003

In general, I think talk radio is a vast wasteland. Most talk radio hosts either have a too narrow focus, too skewed position, or both. If 'truth in talk radio' laws existed, most radio 'personalities' would be in jail for a loooong time.

But I spend a lot of time listening to talk radio, nonetheless. Why? I listen to the people I disagree with most just to keep an ear on the opposition, as it were. Just as theologians are mainly responding to questions and dealing with problems, I listen to prepare for attacks and respond to questions. Just doing my part to be prepared. And besides, the research I do often teaches me new things and occasionally changes my mind [for example, my research has led me to think Mumia Jamal did kill that cop, but I also think he didn't get a fair trial. So I think he shouldn't be executed, but should spend some time in the big house].

It also makes me realize how the Catholic Church needs to make its full position on many topics much more widely known. Here is an aexample.

Yesterday I heard a local marriage counselor talking to a woman with a problem. While she was pregnant her husband started an affair with another, younger, woman. He returned to his wife when she gave birth - but now his mistress is pregnant with his child, too, and he's waffling. This is a horrible situation and the counselor mentioned that he's seen this before and has plans to deal with it in an attempt to save the marriage.

Seen this before? Church of the Holy Sepulchre, what is going on?!

But I know what's going on. A huge number of males in this society have no concepts of responsibility of the results of their sexual activity. And almost as many females concur that sex and consequences have nothin to do with each other. I refuse to refer to these adults as 'men' or 'women' because these attitudes are immature and 'men' and 'women' are words to describe mature humans.

And why should a young man feel that he should face any consequences from being sexually active? After all, birth control means that a woman can't get pregnant, right? And condoms also prevent STDs, right? Well, no - not really. A condom combined with a spermicide is (according to the FDA) about 85% effective - meaning that about 1 in 6 times the woman will get pregnant. And the FDA calculates that a condom without spermicide (the method of choice for many) can be no more than 97% effective. Indeed, the FDA calculates that a diaphragm with spermicide is statistically about as effective as withdrawal. And remember, the FDA is dealing with statistical means here - hurried young people with little experience are going to actually be in danger of slipping down to the 50% to 60% effectiveness of such sloppy birth control. But these young people expect the effectiveness to be 100% - so they really don't think about the potential consequences. And if there is a failure, then just get an abortion, right?

Again, this is ducking the responsibilities in herent in sex. After all, according to the CDC about 10% of all abortions result in immediate health complications (ranging from second-degree burns to intestinal perforations) and about one-fifth of these complications (or 2% of total abortions) are considered life threatening. That means that about 80 women are suffering life-threatening complications from abortions not every year, not evey month, but every day. And the CDC also reports that many deaths directly related to abortions are not reported as related to abortions, increasing the number of women who die as a direct result of abortion by at least 50%, to no less than 40 women a year.

Scary numbers - who wants to die because of sex? And we haven't even started talking about STDs, which are more likely to bypass contraception!

So beyond any emotional connectedness, spiritual directives, moral issues, or just plain compassion for your sexual partner, having sex instantly creates a situation where at least the woman's future is potentially at risk.Having sex is a risky business and human societies have historically recognized this and placed moral, cultural, and societal demnds on those who engage in sex.

But current society tells youngsters that sex should be and is free of all consequences as risk. Indeed, many parents oppose abstinence education because it 'doesn't work'. Actually, as everyone from the Pope to the CDC, FDA, and NOW continue to state/freely admit only abstinence is 100% effective in preventing disease and pregnancy. The only nation in Africa with a declining percentage of AIDS infection is Uganda. Its secret? Abstinence education and a strong emphasis on monogamous marriages with no infidelity. So they have a declining percentage of AIDS infection, a sharp drop in all other STDs, and a steep decline in unwed mothers and teen pregnancies. And the basic message of their abstinence program is 'if you have sex you will eventually get pregnant or catch a disease'. And it works.

Let's repeat that - teaching people that sex has consequences is shown to reduce teen pregnancies, unwed mothers, STDs, and the percentage of AIDS infection. And I do mean a declining rate of AIDS infection, which means the total number of AIDS patients is still growing, albeit slowly - I mean a declining percentage of AIDS patients, meaning the total number of infected people is going down. This information is available from Doctors without Borders and in a number of medical journals - but not the WHO, yet. Many at the UN oppose abstinence programs because it might take funding away from condom programs.

Let's repeat that, too - some want to suppress the abstinence and monogamy programs (that have been proven to work in the real world) because it might reduce the funding for condom programs (which have been proven to fail in the real world).

This is all part of a continuing pattern of people confusing the acceptance that sex has consequences with being repressed. People think that teaching others that having sex will lead to children, that abortion is inherently dangerous, or that condoms don't prevent AIDS (statistically) is somehow infringing on their 'rights'. Read the news stories about these issues and see if you can see this pattern. Or write me and tell me I'm crazy - either way, think about this. Its more important than you think.

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