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Friday, October 28, 2011

Harm and Morals

In the news recently is a whole new HPV question. You remember the HPV thing, right? Rick Perry is in trouble because in Texas he mandated that all girls get the HPV vaccine. There was a campaign in the last couple of years to push this. Girls ought to all be vaccinated for the HPV virus to prevent potential cervical cancer. Now they're finding more. It is now linked to throat cancer and even to heart disease. Wait. That's not all. It is also linked to throat cancer and heart disease in men. One study indicates that men with HPV are more than twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke. So the question is being raised. Should we vaccinate males, too?

Of course, there are a variety of reasons why it's even a question. First, there is the cost. Is it enough of a risk to pay for all those vaccinations? And then there's the question of the public. Do we really want to mandate that everyone get this vaccine? And then there is the question from the conservatives. You see, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. So there are some on the right side of the political aisle that aren't interested in forcing their children to get an immunization when moral values would prevent it.

I'm interested in these newest findings. According to the government, "At least half of all sexually active men and women get genital HPV at some time in their lives." Currently they estimate that 20 million Americans between ages 15 and 49 have HPV. I'm interested because I'm wondering how this works out in the "do no harm" morality crowd. You know them. They are the ones that argue that morality is determined by that which causes harm. Now, most today would say that, for the most part, sex causes no harm whatsoever. "It's all in good, harmless fun. Oh, sure, you might want to avoid 'unsafe sex'. That would be a bad thing. But, hey, that whole 'no sex until you marry' and 'only sex within a marriage' thing is so outdated and, frankly, rididulous," from the "do no harm" perspective. And science is now telling us that, you know, that whole "free love" thing, well, turns out that we're not only putting women at risk for cervical cancer, but we're putting "half of all sexually active men and women" at risk for throat cancer and heart disease. Cancer and heart disease. You know, the Big Two -- two of the top killers in modern times.

As it turns out, then, our ever-so-popular idea of "free love" (meaning, actually, sex with whomever and as many as you want -- no relation to "love") has been doing harm all this time. We just never got the connection. Turns out that young men who guard their way and young women who remain pure for marriage and couples who remain faithful -- you know, like the Creator commands -- would drastically decrease their risk for various cancers and heart disease. In other words, although our culture and science hadn't seen it yet, this moral "virtue" of "free love" actually has been doing harm. Serious harm, as it turns out.

Of course, my pointing this out won't likely make a ripple in this thinking. "Well, okay, so that appears to have a serious potential for harm, but that doesn't mean it should affect our morals, does it?" Nor will it go beyond that. "Well, maybe we didn't see that coming, but we're certain that nothing else we affirm as harmless or possibly even good even though God says otherwise is actually harmful. We're on top of this stuff. We know it." It will continue to be regarded as foolish to assume that just because the Creator of the human being says this or that is bad doesn't mean that it actually is bad. "You religious folk should stop painting God as some cosmic killjoy." And we'll wonder why our pain increases the more we flaunt God's instructions. And, oh, by the way, preventing pregnancy or STDs or inoculating for HPV doesn't actually serve to alleviate the problems our sin causes. No, those things are just the surface issues. It turns out that we are often extremely blind to the harm our sin causes. You know, like those "blinded by the god of this world", inflicted with futile minds, professing to be wise but actually being fools, that kind of thing.

1 comment:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Along with the issue of harm is the harm caused by Gardasil - 26 deaths and other various medical complications have been reported:

But hey, sex is fun and we should just do what feels good!