Volume 9, Issue 3: Medicus
Beginning with Adam's adoration--"This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh"--the Bible paints a beautiful picture of the relationship between a man and a woman. This relationship forms the fabric against which the covenant relationship of God and his people is emerged. Implicit in the tapestry of both the old and new covenant is monogamy, divinely designed and sealed with the seventh commandment. The value of the virtuous wife is extolled in the Proverbs (Prov. 31:10-31). The qualities of love between a man and a woman are revealed in the Song of Solomon. The Old Testament prophets compare the love of God for His people to the love of a bridegroom for the bride (Jer. 2:2; Hos. 2 14-20). Paul models the Christian marriage on the self-giving love of Christ for His church and its willing response (Eph. 5:22, 33).
In stark contrast to the beautiful images given for adherence to God's plan are the graphic warnings offered for disobedience (Prov. 5:1-12; 1 Thes. 4:3-8). These warnings are punctuated with an ever-unfolding cascade of sexually transmitted diseases reminiscent of the plagues of Egypt (Ex. 7:20-12:29). The plagues were so applied as to portray clearly the reality and power of Israel's God, and, by contrast, the impotence of Egypt's gods. As the number, severity, mode of transmission and resistance to treatment of the various sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) unfold, it would appear that they reflect God's hatred for and His judgment of sexual sin.
Approximately 12 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases are diagnosed each year in the U.S.--with 86 percent of cases occurring in 15-to 29- year olds. It is estimated that at least one in four--and perhaps as many as one in two--Americans will contract a STD at some point in their lives. At least 56 million people--more than one in five Americans--are believed to be infected with a viral STD other than AIDS. These incurable diseases, such as genital herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), and hepatitis B, have consequences ranging from recurrent painful outbreaks to chronic liver disease to cancer. STD rates in the U.S. are among the highest in the industrialized world, and in some areas, rates approach those found in developing countries. While syphilis and gonorrhea have virtually disappeared in most industrialized countries, infectious syphilin the U.S. is is at its highest levels in 40 years, and gonorrhea is the country's most commonly reported communicable disease.
Venereology (the study of sexually transmitted diseases) today encompasses not only the five "venerable" venereal diseases (gonorrhea, syphilis, chancroid, lymphogranuloma venereum, and granuloma inguinale) but also a growing number of other diseases which might be considered the "new generation" of sexually transmitted diseases. A recent classification of STDs by Cornell University Medical College listed 23 diseases where sexual transmission has been implicated as a major factor in the propagation. Many of these STDs have, like gonorrhea, become epidemic in nearly all countries of the world during the past two decades. With increased interest in these diseases and improved methods for diagnosis has come awareness of the growing consequences of STD in areas of health and society which extend beyond the traditional sphere of venereology. In particular, major impact of the newer STDs has been noted on maternal and infant morbidity and on human reproduction and infertility. "For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me"(Ex. 20:2,3).
Given the virulence of the newer generation of STDs, including AIDS, the iniquity can seldom be visited to the third and fourth generation. AIDS usually runs its course in one and occasionally two generations not unlike Hoseas' description of Samaria: "For she has rebelled against her God. They shall fall by the sword. Their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child ripped open"(Hos.13:16). This is hard language indeed, but one our generation needs to hear. Sexual purity is a commandment, not a suggestion. Our God is a God of justice and a God of mercy. His justice reigns in three to four generations, but His mercy He pours out for thousands of generations (Ex. 20:6).