Last Sunday, I was listening to a sermon by a preacher who was visiting our church just before going to Africa to minister to those suffering from AIDS. He described the horrific epidemic that has been ravishing the continent for years as follows: ?It is the greatest human rights tragedy of our time.?
Citing the prospect of 40 million orphans in Africa by the year 2010, he pled with the congregation to demonstrate real faith in God by acting to help end the suffering of those infected with the deadly AIDS virus. His message, interwoven with the New Testament story of Lazarus and the rich man, was quite powerful. I pray that in the end it will also prove effective. Decent people simply cannot ignore what this disease has been doing, particularly to those in sub-Saharan Africa, in recent years.
But as bad as the AIDS epidemic is, it is only the second greatest human rights tragedy of our time. The first is abortion.
Even if we accept as true our visiting preacher?s statistic concerning the prospect of 40 million orphans (he claimed NPR as his source) on one continent by 2010, that does not come close to the number of abortions that will have been performed by that year in the United States alone. In fact, we have already had over 45 million abortions in the U.S. since the Roe decision. That is more than the total number of AIDS deaths throughout the world since the disease was first detected.
When I think about the tragedies of AIDS and abortion, I wonder why so many pro-choice ?humanitarians? who want to end the AIDS epidemic are fighting so hard to preserve the legality of abortion. Indeed, I have often heard liberals say that those who are not in favor of international AIDS relief are ?racists.? This accusation is linked to the indisputable fact that those of African descent are disproportionately infected with the disease.
But what about the fact that abortions are grossly disproportionately performed on African American babies in the United States? What is the real reason why many of those who are fighting against AIDS because of the fact that it gravely threatens the African population, are fighting just as vigorously to preserve abortion despite the fact that it gravely threatens the African American population?
The answer to this obvious contradiction is simple. It is not stupidity or ignorance of the facts. It is basic human selfishness.
Many people who rightly support a world war on AIDS do so, not because of their concern for others, but because of concern for themselves. They see the existence of AIDS as a threat to their sexual freedom. And that is why they fight to preserve abortion. They see the non-existence of abortion as a threat to their sexual freedom. Their problem is not intellectual. It is a basic issue of self-control, which lies at the heart of many human tragedies.
And that is why, as great as he was, C.S. Lewis was incorrect when he said that ?The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins.? Our decisions about sexual morality can affect our decisions about much more important issues. These seemingly minor transgressions can produce a callous indifference to the plight of the unborn.
But what we need is more than a lecture on sexual morality. We need a unified effort to end the two greatest human rights tragedies of our time, which are unquestionably the twin epidemics of abortion and AIDS. And more than anything, we need a president who is committed to ending both of these tragedies.
In that sense, George W. Bush may be the greatest humanitarian of our time. And some might call him our first black president.
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