Syphilis and Scripture
Margie Mason recently reported that China is experiencing a major epidemic of syphilis infection (2010). She noted that every hour a Chinese baby is born with syphilis, and “the rate of mother-to-child transmission jumped from 7 to 57 cases per 100,000 live births between 2003 and 2008” (2010). At the present, syphilis cases in China are “rising by 30 percent every year.” Mason also reported that syphilis infection is increasing in the United States as well (2010). To what did Mason and the experts she consulted attribute the surge of syphilis infection? She wrote: “Prostitutes along with gay and bisexual men, many of whom are married with families, are driving the epidemic” in China. And she noted that, in the United States, “more than 60 percent of cases linked [are] to gay sex” (2010).
What is the solution to epidemic sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis? The Center for Disease Control outlined a simple, effect way to eradicate such diseases:
The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, is to abstain from sexual contact or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected (“Syphilis...,” 2008, emp. added).
The recipe for eliminating STDs bears a striking resemblance to the Bible’s instructions concerning sex being reserved for a life-long covenant marriage relationship between one man and one women (see Matthew 19:1-4; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 6:15-20).
In truth, God’s instructions concerning sex and all other aspects of human life have always been intended to help humans be truly happy. In Deuteronomy 6:24, Moses wrote: “And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day” (emp. added). If God designed humans, and if He knows everything about them, then He is the only Being in the position to write the perfect guidelines that lead to human happiness.
Unfortunately, many people misunderstand God’s instructions and His purposes behind them. These people believe God is trying to keep them from enjoying life, or forcing them to avoid things that would bring them pleasure. In reality, however, God designed humans to be capable of achieving the most “abundant” life when following His gracious instructions (John 10:10).
So, why does God regulate aspects of human behavior like sex? The practical answer is so that humans can avoid many of the painful situations such as babies being born with syphilis that causes “irreversible damage” such as deafness, neurological problems, and bone deformities (Mason, 2010). The theological answer is simply that God loves all people, and wants them to live the most abundant life possible on this Earth, as well as have the expectation of eternal life with Him (2 Peter 3:9).
Mason, Margie (2010), “1 Chinese Baby Born With Syphilis Every Hour,” http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100506/ap_on_he_me/as_med_china_syphilis_scourge/ print;_ylt=AhT.dv9Gh0zQIfXB7BQyKz17_aF4;_ylu= X3oDMTBvajZzaTFyBHBvcwMxNQRzZWMDdG9wBHNsawNwcmludA--.
“Syphilis—CDC Fact Sheet” (2008), http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/STDFact-Syphilis.htm#protect.