The High Cost of Ignorance

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The High Cost of Ignorance

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Watching a well-known television news—commentary program recently, I was quite surprised at an exchange between the host and his guest. Although the host openly professes to be Christian and belongs to a major mainline denomination, he utterly rejected his guest's reference to the Old Testament to support his point. "That's all just allegorical," the host snorted. "It doesn't mean anything for us today." When the guest then tried to quote from one of Paul's epistles, the host interrupted again. "That's not the gospel," he snapped.

How sad, I thought, that such a nationally known and respected figure can so casually dismiss the Old Testament—about three quarters of the entire Bible—as "just allegorical" and irrelevant and then turn around and dismiss more than half of what's left over with "that's not the gospel."

It's this kind of thinking that prompted the theme of this issue—that the Bible is always relevant and a book for all mankind, for all ages.

Few people have ever considered the Bible a reliable guide for proper diet and good physical and mental health. Yet scattered throughout its pages are priceless laws and principles that would literally save millions of lives every year—if people would only pay attention to them.

Consider, for a moment, one of today's deadliest killers, AIDS. Probably a week doesn't go by that you don't see the disease mentioned in the headlines or referred to on the evening news. It is the fourth-leading cause of death worldwide. Yet AIDS is entirely preventable and wouldn't even exist if people only lived according to the laws revealed in the Bible.

How did the AIDS epidemic begin? No one knows for sure, but now we know that African green monkeys carry a related virus naturally in their blood. Several decades ago the virus jumped to human beings, apparently when hunters killed and butchered infected monkeys for food. Once it entered the human bloodstream, the virus proved deadly and unstoppable.

But it need not have started there, and wouldn't have, if people obeyed God's laws that forbid eating the flesh of apes—a biblically designated "unclean" animal. God's Word clearly states that the flesh of some animals should never be eaten (Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14).

So AIDS could have ended there. But it didn't. Those who were initially infected had sexual relations with their spouses—but also with others. In violating God's laws forbidding adultery (Exodus 20:14), those who were infected unknowingly passed on a death sentence to their unsuspecting sexual partners. Some of them, in turn, passed it on to others.

In the Western world the disease—still unnamed and unidentified—was first noticed in homosexual men, among whom it was spreading like wildfire. Researchers soon discovered that common homosexual practices were highly effective ways to spread the deadly virus. Such behavior is condemned in the Bible (Leviticus 20:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

In most other countries AIDS spread as a heterosexual disease (between men and women). Prostitution, extramarital and premarital sex—all violations of God's commands—saw to it that the epidemic would continue its grim march around the globe. Another factor—sharing syringes to inject illegal drugs—also played a significant role.

Now, because of all of these factors, AIDS is firmly entrenched throughout the world. At any of these stages along the way, the disease could have been confined so that it would have died out within a generation—had not people persisted in disobeying God's laws. The sins of others have affected many innocent people as well, including babies, spouses, and hemophiliacs who received tainted blood transfusions.

The world spends some $60 billion a year treating AIDS, educating people about it and trying to slow its advance. It has already taken some 20 million lives; another 36 million live under its death sentence.

That's a terribly costly price to pay for ignorance. Isn't it about time we paid attention to what God says?