The Condomcrats

She takes off an earring. He drops a shoe. A look, a giggle . . . the sexual innuendo is obvious. No, this is not the latest steamy soap opera. It's a new educational effort by the federal government. For years schools have been inundated with sex-education courses teaching kids about condoms. For years, public health officials have been warning us that AIDS is a deadly disease. But for some reason, they think we still haven't got the message. So the federal government has just launched a costly, $800,000 ad campaign for radio and television aimed at getting Americans to use condoms. These are not staid public service announcements; they're as slick as any Madison Avenue commercial. "I'm naked," announces Anthony Keidis, lead singer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, in one of the ads. "What I have here is a . . . latex condom. I wear one whenever I have sex." As the ad closes, an announcer promises that a latex condom, "used consistently and correctly, prevents the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS . . . and may save your life." What I want to know is, whatever happened to truth in advertising? Scientific studies on condoms are far from reassuring. Dr. David Satcher of the Centers for Disease Control recently cited a single European study supposedly showing condoms to be "99-plus percent" effective. But frankly, that study has as many holes as the typical latex condom. Contrast it with a Planned Parenthood study that turned up a condom failure rate of about 16 to 45 percent. A new study at the University of Texas found that with condoms, the risk of HIV transmission is about 31 percent. Shockingly, these pessimistic numbers are being ignored by public health officials in their zealous effort to reach kids with the message of salvation by condom. But the irony is that their sleight of hand is not likely to work. The explicit message of these ads is undermined by their implicit message. Think of it: Here you have a rock singer talking in a husky voice about taking his clothes off, about having sex—and really, what's the message most kids will pick up from that? Obviously, the message that sex is okay, as long as you use a condom. The medium is the message here. The federal government is implicitly putting its imprimatur on promiscuous sex. If your children see or hear these ads, make sure you take the time to educate them on the false promises being made about condom use. And confront the implicit message as well. Promiscuous sex isn't okay, no matter what gaudy rock stars say—and no matter what the overgrown sixties radicals currently in government say. What does matter is what God says. He's the one who created sex in the first place, and He's the one who can tell us how it works. Donna Shalala, secretary of Health and Human Services, says we need to teach kids about condoms in order to be "realistic." Well, I'll tell you what's realistic. It's facing up to the fact that sex outside marriage always poses risks, whether you use a condom or not. That's tough realism. And it may save your life.


Chuck Colson


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