Will the international body’s latest recommendation to curb HIV/AIDS really work?
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Prostitution should be legalized worldwide, a United Nations-backed panel of experts concluded. The goal: decrease the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Based on firsthand accounts from over 1,000 people in 140 countries, and 18 months of research and analysis, The Global Commission on HIV and the Law warned that its most recent proposal “may make a great many people uncomfortable—hopefully uncomfortable enough to take action.”
Some of the panel’s most controversial recommendations include: “Work with the guardians of customary and religious law to promote traditions and religious practice that promote rights and acceptance of diversity and that protect privacy,” and, “Decriminalise private and consensual adult sexual behaviours, including same-sex sexual acts and voluntary sex work.”
According to the commissioners, laws against prostitution are “bad laws” that “criminalize and dehumanize populations at the most risk for contracting HIV.” And they defend the notion that governments should regulate prostitution if it is legalized: “Rather than punishing consenting adults involved in sex work, countries must ensure safe working conditions and offer sex workers and their clients’ access to effective HIV health services.”
Prostitution has been legally recognized as a profession for years in Germany—where laws exist that deny unemployment benefits to women under age 55 who refuse to take jobs in the sex industry—and also in the Netherlands. Canada has ruled that anti-prostitution laws are unconstitutional.
It is estimated that there are approximately 40 million prostitutes worldwide. The report added that The International Labour Organization “recommended that sex work be recognised as an occupation so that it can be regulated in ways that protect workers and customers.”
Could legalizing the “oldest profession” be what the world needs to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS?
A brief look at prostitution tells a different story.
“If you have ever seen prostitution up close, you know it is not pretty. Not at all,” The Washington Times stated. “People become prostitutes as a last resort. It places them in danger every day, is traumatic, and forces them to engage in unwanted sex many times throughout the day. No one grows up hoping to become a prostitute, and no parents secretly pray that their sons or daughters will pass middle school so they can hit the streets and sell their bodies.”
The article added, “Lynn and Rick Fred, the parents of a young woman who was a prostitute in Canada and who was murdered by a customer, strongly oppose legalizing prostitution. They point out, ‘To think the best we can do for these women is giving them a safe place to sell their bodies is a joke. There is no such thing as a “clean safe place” to be abused in.’”
This lifestyle involves other problems that exacerbate the risk of HIV/AIDS contagion.
According to AVERT, a UK-based international HIV and AIDS organization, “The factors that put sex workers at risk vary between countries. In some places, sex workers commonly use drugs and share needles.”
The charity also stressed an often overlooked factor: “The clients of sex workers are often referred to as a ‘bridge’ population for the transmission of HIV, meaning that they act as a link between high risk groups and the general population.”
In other words, HIV can be transmitted from a legal or illegal prostitute just as it can be passed on by a married individual who has “occasional” sex with a prostitute.
HIV/AIDS plays no favorites.
As the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to spread and injure the health of this world’s population, the United Nations and health organizations are often found scrambling to find ways to control it. Religious groups often also attempt to help. The Global Commission on HIV and the Law report critiques their approach: “Religious institutions have often been at the forefront of caring for people living with HIV, and some play important roles in prevention. But narrow and punitive interpretations of religion—especially in concert with law—can also make those most at risk more vulnerable by condemning and criminalising their identities and behaviours.”
In other words, it is okay for religion to get involved, as long as it does not bring up the “s” word—sin.
Of all people, religious leaders should be the ones teaching that there is right and wrong in sexuality. This does not mean that there are “right” and “wrong” ways to engage in prostitution, or that it should be legalized—but rather that prostitution is simply wrong, and not why sex was created. (Read the Personal What Few Understand About Sex for more information.)
The God of the Bible is plain: “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel” (Deut. 23:17).
While the Bible does make “a great many people uncomfortable,” it is designed so that they are “uncomfortable enough to take action.” And if people “took action” in this way—paying attention to its principles and guidance—problems such as HIV would not only improve, they would also be eliminated!
When properly understood, true religion is designed to lead mankind to solve its problems by pointing to the root of problems—sin—not treating the effects. God’s Word, not man’s organizations, defines what religion is, and what should always be its stance on prostitution: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (Jms. 1:27).
To be unspotted from the world, one has to stay away from the world’s corrupt ways, including prostitution. Moreover, in this verse, a meaning for the Greek word translated “unspotted” is “free from vice, unsullied” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament).
The English word vice can also mean: “moral depravity or corruption…a moral fault…sexual immorality; especially: prostitution” (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary).
Read the last phrase of the verse again in this light: “to keep himself [free from moral depravity or corruption, moral fault, sexual immorality; especially: prostitution] from the world.”
Jesus Christ reiterated this in a famous biblical account with a woman caught having extramarital sex—an offense punishable by death at the time. After He convicted her accusers with the famed statement: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7), He also told her, “Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more” (vs. 11).
While “experts” may consider legalizing prostitution as a just and humanitarian move that must be embraced and promoted by nations, God says, “Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).
Conversely, God ties healing to obedience to Him: “You shall therefore keep the commandments [including the Seventh Commandment, which prohibits committing adultery], and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command you this day, to do them…if you hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord your God…will love you, and bless you…the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases…upon you; but will lay them upon all them that hate you” (Deut. 7:11, 12, 13, 15).
While no medical, scientific or human rights authority can make such straightforward promises, the God who declares it is He “who heals all your diseases” (Psa. 103:3) and for whom it is impossible to lie (Heb. 6:18) does—and He means them.
If the world would simply believe the promises of God, it would bring positive—and widespread—change to Earth.
Most scoff at this idea. Yet there is much more to the subject—and it is all backed up by rock-solid proof. Order the free booklets Why Man Cannot Solve His Problems and The Truth About Healing to learn how you can enact true change in your life—and claim God’s promises.