Imposing our morality on other cultures

A Ugandan pastor and AIDS worker, the Rev. Sam L. Ruteikara, writes in “The Washington Post,” no less, that Western activists are making things worse by pushing for sexual permissiveness:

In the late 1980s, before international experts arrived to tell us we had it all “wrong,” we in Uganda devised a practical campaign to prevent the spread of HIV. We recognized that population-wide AIDS epidemics in Africa were driven by people having sex with more than one regular partner. Therefore, we urged people to be faithful. Our campaign was called ABC (Abstain, or Be Faithful, or use Condoms), but our main message was: Stick to one partner. We promoted condoms only as a last resort.

Because we knew what to do in our country, we succeeded. The proportion of Ugandans infected with HIV plunged from 21 percent in 1991 to 6 percent in 2002. But international AIDS experts who came to Uganda said we were wrong to try to limit people’s sexual freedom. Worse, they had the financial power to force their casual-sex agendas upon us.

PEPFAR calls for Western experts to work as equal partners with African leaders on AIDS prevention. But as co-chair of Uganda’s National AIDS-Prevention Committee, I have seen this process sabotaged. Repeatedly, our 25-member prevention committee put faithfulness and abstinence into the National Strategic Plan that guides how PEPFAR money for our country will be spent. Repeatedly, foreign advisers erased our recommendations. When the document draft was published, fidelity and abstinence were missing.

And somehow, a suspicious statistic attacking marriage appeared. The plan states that the HIV infection rate among married couples is 42 percent, twice as high as the rate among prostitutes. Our requests for the source of this statistic were repeatedly ignored. In fact, the 2004-05 Ugandan HIV/AIDS Sero-Behavioral Survey found that HIV prevalence among married couples is only 6.3 percent, far lower than infection rates among widowed (31.4 percent) or divorced (13.9 percent) Ugandans.

When Washington insiders were alerted to these scandals, the words “abstain” and “be faithful” were quietly reinserted into the plan — on paper. But that doesn’t guarantee these methods will be implemented or promoted. Meanwhile, the dubious marriage statistic remains.

As fidelity and abstinence have been subverted, Uganda’s HIV rates have begun to tick back up. . . .

Meanwhile, effective HIV prevention methods, such as urging Africans to stick to one partner, don’t qualify for lucrative universal-access status. . . .

We, the poor of Africa, remain silenced in the global dialogue. Our wisdom about our own culture is ignored.

Telling men and women to keep sex sacred — to save sex for marriage and then remain faithful — is telling them to love one another deeply with their whole hearts. Most HIV infections in Africa are spread by sex outside of marriage: casual sex and infidelity. The solution is faithful love.

So hear my plea, HIV-AIDS profiteers. Let my people go. We understand that casual sex is dear to you, but staying alive is dear to us. Listen to African wisdom, and we will show you how to prevent AIDS.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    Profound truth, but it won’t be heard. This isn’t the kind of cultural imperialism our moral arbiters are inclined to repent of.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    Profound truth, but it won’t be heard. This isn’t the kind of cultural imperialism our moral arbiters are inclined to repent of.

  • Orianna Laun

    The religion of secular humanism seems to have many adherents and they are working to proselytize the world at the expense of humanity.

  • Orianna Laun

    The religion of secular humanism seems to have many adherents and they are working to proselytize the world at the expense of humanity.

  • Gulliver

    Missionaries from the U.S. have often been blamed for messing up the cultures of others. However, the agenda of those who promote moral relativism have done far worse to countries such as Iran and in Africa. Hatred for the U.S. may come from envy, but the source is the immoral culture promoted by our music, films, and paternalistic agencies.

  • Gulliver

    Missionaries from the U.S. have often been blamed for messing up the cultures of others. However, the agenda of those who promote moral relativism have done far worse to countries such as Iran and in Africa. Hatred for the U.S. may come from envy, but the source is the immoral culture promoted by our music, films, and paternalistic agencies.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Sounds like we should be asking for help from this pastor in Uganda for our Western cultural bankruptcy. Not the other way around. The World is upside down. Here’s another example of how the wisdom of the world follows a murderous theology of glory. The West is dying, Africa is rising, and it seems we are afraid of the truth.

    But it is nice to see this in the Washington Post.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Sounds like we should be asking for help from this pastor in Uganda for our Western cultural bankruptcy. Not the other way around. The World is upside down. Here’s another example of how the wisdom of the world follows a murderous theology of glory. The West is dying, Africa is rising, and it seems we are afraid of the truth.

    But it is nice to see this in the Washington Post.

  • http://www.cosmicbattle.wordpress.com Alex

    When western society ibegins to be known more for its sexual “openess,” we begin a domino effect of moral influential decline in the world. Especially when we are known as “Christians.” This is sad.

  • http://www.cosmicbattle.wordpress.com Alex

    When western society ibegins to be known more for its sexual “openess,” we begin a domino effect of moral influential decline in the world. Especially when we are known as “Christians.” This is sad.

  • http://www.theavailablelight.net Dean

    Sounds about par for the course.

    The liberals who agitate for these things are blinded by their commitment to a destructive agenda. The first thing it destroys is their ability to see the negative consequences of pursuing their agenda even when people are dying right in front of them as a result of their actions.

    Besides this kind of horrible advice, their other export to populations where promiscuity is rampant is, of course, abortion. If Obama is elected you can bet very soon into his administration, he will empower aid agencies in these countries to use federal dollars to kill unborn children.

  • http://www.theavailablelight.net Dean

    Sounds about par for the course.

    The liberals who agitate for these things are blinded by their commitment to a destructive agenda. The first thing it destroys is their ability to see the negative consequences of pursuing their agenda even when people are dying right in front of them as a result of their actions.

    Besides this kind of horrible advice, their other export to populations where promiscuity is rampant is, of course, abortion. If Obama is elected you can bet very soon into his administration, he will empower aid agencies in these countries to use federal dollars to kill unborn children.

  • Anon

    Asherah has many committed devotees these days. ..

  • Anon

    Asherah has many committed devotees these days. ..


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X