The Evangelical Fellowship Botswana (EFB) wishes to put across its position as regards comments and suggestions made during the recent forums hosted by honorable Members of Parliament in their nation-wide consultation on proposed legislation on HIV and AIDS.
Certain disturbing issues have arisen, which, as the body of Christ, and a body representing Pentecostal and evangelical churches in Botswana, feels need to be addressed.
Firstly, as citizens of this country, we recognise the difficult situation HIV and the AIDS pandemic has put us all in. We recognise that what we are dealing with is not an ordinary disease that can be addressed medically alone. This is an issue that has torn into the very core of our social-economic being, and needs a multi-faceted approach to be addressed.
But, the mere fact that our nation, and the world over, is under attack, should not throw us into a panic state that will force us to take decisions that erode the very basic elements of our culture, our nature and morals.
For an example, to suggest the legalization of prostitution as a means to curb the growing infection rate is counter-productive. Prostitution is immoral and socially wrong, and cannot, and should never be, condoned. We cannot fight off an attack (HIV and AIDS) by encouraging and accepting a destructive route (prostitution) leading to nowhere but decay of our culture and nature. It is not an option. We should never, as a people, a government, give our daughters, and sons, the liberty to destroy the moral fibers of our nation just because we believe that it is a way to solve the problem at hand. In any case, prostitution by definition denotes the spread of disease and not otherwise.
The same applies to issues of homosexuality. To say the best way to counter the spread of HIV in prisons is to issue male prisoners with condoms is a direct way of encouraging men to engage in immoral acts of homosexuality.
The Bible is very clear on homosexuality. It is wrong, it is immoral, and as the Body of Christ, we cannot stand by and condone it for any other reason. Over and above that our laws have wisely declared homosexuality illegal.
It also goes on matters of abortion. Murder is a sin, whatever the circumstances. And abortion is killing (a foetus is a living being), created in God’s image. Killing a foetus must never be condoned.
We would be failing, as spiritual leaders, to make a clear stand on these matters.
The, EFB would also like to put across its position regarding other issues such as pre-marital counseling and compulsory testing.
Indeed, it would be wise, and a responsible for a counselor to educate couples on HIV and AIDS and encourage them to go for testing before taking a marriage step. But it would be problematic to “force” couples to test, much in the same way it would be to force any other person to test and go public about their status.
Regardless of one’s status, we all still have our constitutional right to confidentiality. We, therefore, believe the best way would be for the government to continue with routine testing, and for individuals to be encouraged to know their status. But to pass on the results of one’s status to third parties would be tempering with one’s constitutional and human rights.
The EFB, would, therefore, like to call on the nation of Botswana to tread carefully when dealing with these matters, as reacting to a problem by inviting destructive solutions will hurt us in the long run. The family is the cornerstone of the nation. We must desist from acts that will weaken it.
Pastor BG Butale
President ÔÇô Evangelical Fellowship Botswana