Well, there’s a headline I never thought I’d type. But hats off to Brand in this exchange with the Parliamentary Home Affairs Committee on at least two counts:
1. He advocates abstinence-based programmes for cure and recovery. When the Church calls for abstinence, it is mocked. Brand knows from painful experience its importance.
2. He knows and understands that celebrity is ‘a vapid, vacuous and toxic concept’ and used to distract people from important things that are happening.
In today’s issue of The Times Camilla Cavendish wrote an opinion column entitled Preaching Is No Prophylactic. Her basic thesis is that the only way to reduce unwanted pregnancies is contraception, not a crusade for abstinence outside marriage. One of her more vehement quotes is this:
‘Aid organisations say that roughly half of the $10 billion that President Bush promised two years ago to fight Aids will be wasted on futile abstinence programmes that go against human nature.’
On one level Cavendish is right: abstinence does go against human nature – sinful human nature. Jesus said some Old Testament laws were given because the people were hard-hearted, and maybe sometimes (often?) that’s how governments have to be.
However, while I’m hardly Dubya’s biggest fan, it’s supremely ironic that the same edition of the paper carries an interview with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda which notes that his nation has had some success in fighting Aids. Now just remind me, didn’t the Ugandan campaign include a big emphasis on abstinence?