Who made the following comment?
“Young people especially have to think more carefully about the decision to have sex, because the ‘safest sex’ is no sex and that is the most responsible choice.”
A. Vice President Dan Quayle
B. Political activist Beverly LaHaye
C. Earvin “Magic” Johnson
D. Catholic Cardinal John O’Connor
While it could have easily been choice A, B, or D, these are the words of former Laker superstar Magic Johnson, two weeks after announcing that he had contracted the HIV virus and his intentions to promote “safe sex.” Where the term was once associated with getting married, our new-age social dictionaries have redefined “safe-sex” to mean virtually any act performed with a condom.
On Wall Street, Johnson’s initial declaration literally caused the stock in condom manufacturers to rise the morning after. On Capital Hill, Magic Johnson was immediately asked to fill a vacancy on the AIDS Commission To Unleash Power (ACT-UP) invited Magic to join their mob of terrorists. All in all, a rather pathetic list of reactions.
If you did not hear about Magic’s new tune, don’t take it personally either. With a few notable exceptions, the national media lent this dramatic conversion a deaf ear and puny coverage. After all, advocating condom distribution is a sure fire way to get invited to a Hollywood cocktail party, while preaching abstinence will only garner a few thank-you notes from grateful parents. Who in the press wanted to devalue Magic’s social standing?
Vice President Dan Quayle was one of the first to advocate abstinence after Magic’s announcement: “That’s a sure cure, and we ought to be talking about it.” In turn, he was resoundingly ridiculed by keen social ethicists such as talk show host Arsenio Hall and his dimwitted guests. “Is Quayle serious?” they mocked.
With Magic now on the abstinence bandwagon, Arsenio, the late-night Prince of Hipness and one of Magic’s close friends, is looking like a bewildered emperor with no clothes.
It would be interesting to know exactly what caused Magic’s change of mind and message. A minister? One of his teammates? Interestingly enough, the same weekend that Magic issued his new and improved statement, the Los Angeles Times and the Orange County Register reported on the Sunday sermon of the Rev. John Nix-McReynolds, pastor of one of the area’s largest black churches. After excusing children under 12, the preacher launched into an unusually explicit sermon.
“My friends,” he said, “please allow me to declare that the message that has been given to Magic, though noble as it may be in its attempt and appeal, is indeed tragic. The message of ‘safe sex’ is not the answer, it is still ‘death sex.’”
Condom distribution “may be the message of the world, the Gay Liberation Front, ACT-UP, and Queer Nation,” he preached. “But that is not the message of the Bible.”
According to the Times, “Black preachers around the nation have been moved to break their silence on the delicate issue” ever since Magic’s announcement. Black preachers led this nation to a better understanding of civil rights in the 1960s, perhaps they will lead us to a better understanding of civil righteousness in the 1990s.
The preacher’s wisdom is still considered foolish in many social circles. Observing that too many good young men are dying before they reach 40, Anna Quindlen, columnist for the New York Times, wrote, “I’m far less concerned about my kids’ lifestyles than I am about their lives.” Quindlen’s columns are notoriously well-known for their spasms of wishful thinking. For today, at least, we are not afforded the luxury of separating our lifestyles from our lives.
A recent poll found more Americans who think that Magic Johnson is paying the price for sexual promiscuity than believe that he was an “unfortunate victim of chance.” For millions of Americans, including myself, Magic was a hero. But heroism is not found in boundless sexual encounters.
We foolishly tinker with our future when our public schools provide condoms-on-demand. The truth is that condoms have a failure rate of 15.7 percent, and that’s on a good day.
Dr. Theresa Crenshaw, a member of the National AIDS Commission, once asked a conference of sexologists if they had available the partner of their dreams, and knew that person carried the HIV virus, would they have sex, depending on a condom for protection? No hand was raised.
Dr. Crenshaw chastised the group for giving advice to others that they would not follow themselves. “The point is putting a mere balloon between a healthy body and a deadly disease is not safe.”
Where once condoms were promoted to avoid pregnancy, today they are being touted as the latest health tip. How we evolved from an-apple-a-day to bran muffins to condoms, I will never know. Unfortunately, we’ll believe anything if it will help us sin more safely.