Science and the Bible

4000-year-old biblical practice billed as AIDS 'vaccine'

Cape Town, South Africa - In the nation with the highest number of people living with HIV-AIDS in the world (an estimated 6 million people) they are beginning to tout the best available "vaccine" for the virus: circumcision. Here in South Africa, where more than 600 people die every day, and nearly 30 percent of pregnant women are infected, AIDS expert Francois Venter recently advocated for the practice as he addressed a congress of health activists in the Treatment Action Campaign.

Venter cited a recent survey in the Soweto township, which indicated that circumcised men were 65 percent less likely to contract the AIDS virus than those that were not.

As early as 1987, Dr. William Cameron of the University of Manitoba reported the association between the procedure and a reduced risk of HIV, as evidenced from a study in Kenya.

While the anti-circumcision movement is still quite powerful, support for it seems to be growing. "Circumcision is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the United States," says Dr. Thomas Wiswell, Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "As a pediatrician and neonatologist, I am a child advocate and try to do what is best for children. For many years I was an outspoken opponent of circumcision and believed there was no justification for its routine performance in the newborn. However, over the past four years I have gradually changed my opinion. Several factors have influenced this change.

"There is irrefutable evidence that circumcised boys have far lower risk for urinary tract infections during infancy than their uncircumcised counterparts. In addition, circumcision leads to almost complete protection against penile carcinoma. Furthermore, important but controversial data show an apparent link between the state of uncircumcision and a higher risk for many of the sexually transmitted diseases."

In the U.S. the circumcision rate is estimated at about 80 percent, far greater than the global average of 25 percent, but still less than Madagascar, which sees 100 percent of its male children circumcised. The idea is that, with education about the health benefits of circumcision, more and more parents will opt for their newborn sons to undergo this minor procedure, thus decreasing the risk of STDs worldwide.

Whereas the scientific community is only now beginning to see the benefits of circumcision, Abraham, at the Word of the Lord, began to perform this procedure around 4000 years ago, as recorded in the pages of the Bible. This is particularly ironic, in light of the current climate, where the debate about the propriety of mentioning "intelligent design" in school as an alternative to evolution has many, like editorial columnist Leonard Pitts, declaring that faith and science are diametric opposites.

When God commanded Abraham and all his household to be circumcised, He was not ignorant of the health benefits. It is not a coincidence that the practice ordained by God is beneficially hygienic. God proved this when He gave the law to Moses, including a reiteration of the requirement of circumcision. He said, "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee" (Ex. 15:26).

Clearly, the Word of God has the answers. As Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).

So, in 2005, the medical community, after much scientific experimentation, is finally beginning to realize the benefits of circumcision. Still, while they have begun to see it as the best "vaccine" against STDs, God's Word offers an even better remedy for the venereal disease epidemic than circumcision alone.

Paul said, "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband" (1 Cor. 7:1,2). While circumcision makes contracting HIV 65 percent less likely, abstinence has a 100 percent success rate. Sex is reserved by God to be only between a man and a woman within the bounds of matrimony.

While the so-called scientific community may never catch on completely, it appears that our Maker does in fact know a thing or two about how the world works.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord , and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones" (Pro. 3:5-8).

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