The Church, the condom and the concept of sin

THE conservative Church in Lesotho continually discourages condom usage in favour of abstinence and faithfulness.

This raises serious problems. Most Christians, particularly those who succumbed and confined themselves to the authoritative regulatory systems of the Church are likely to fear using the condom or feel ashamed to use one.

The main argument from the Church against the use of the condom is that liberal condom-usage may result in abuse.

There is fear that free condom-usage may possibly lead to the habit of prostitution and sexual unfaithfulness.

Once condom usage becomes a habit, it will turn out to be more common, well-known, and familiar and people may not feel ashamed of using it.

However, I feel availability, free access and regular use of the condom will result in responsible use.

It has to be understood that a condom is a medical device intended to be used whenever a person is exposed to infectious diseases just like taking a drug or vaccination against any potential infection.

If the liberal use of the condom may result in abuse, it will not be different from drugs that some people still abuse.

Another reason proffered by the Church is that the use of the condom is regarded as a sin.

The question is what a sin is: Is it the use of a condom, abuse of condom or the use of religious beliefs to expose people to infectious diseases?

The main task of the Church is to save the people; saving in its totality, not only spiritual salvation (“I came that they may have life, and have it in completeness,” John 10:10b).

If a condom can reduce STIs and risk of exposure to HIV, is it not the Church that needs to take a leading role towards the promotion of responsible use of the condom?

The Church also fears that condom usage might encourage sexual relations outside marriage, a practice it considers sin.

This promotes stigmatisation and discrimination against some Christians.

We are living in a pluralist society where there are different layers of society.

We have single-parent families in Lesotho.

Can we conclude that they are living a sinful life? Initially, life-time marriage commitment was a social norm and it is doubtful whether it was by conscious choice for women and girls who “pioneered” single-parent families.

Many were forced by circumstances beyond their control. Some had been sexually abused, cheated, betrayed, raped, eloped or forced into culturally arranged marriages that could not last.

Recently, single parenting family is a well established social phenomenon in Lesotho, which the Church cannot ignore.

Many women and girls are also forced into choices they would rather not make.

Financial considerations, limited skills for knowledge based economic society in which we are living, and limits of other resources often lead girls and women into decisions they consider pragmatic at the very least, in a desperate attempt to survive.

For example, it is generally known that commercial sex is socially unacceptable and it is doubtful whether women and girls may deliberately choose to deviate from sexual mores of society. This may be the only way through which they can put bread on the table and raise their children.

My appeal is that the Church should try to apply theological tools to locate the condom and sin in their proper contexts.

Constantly, Christ argued with the Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees and the Teachers of the Law on the issue of “sin” that was taken out of context.

If Christ is the Church’s qualifier, then the Church would know that He preached the gospel of compassion, justice and inclusion, as against condemnation, judgmental, exclusion and discrimination.

Rev Mokotso is the Rector for Thaba Tseka Anglican Church of Lesotho

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