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The High Cost of Ignorance

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The High Cost of Ignorance

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Few people have ever considered the Bible a reliable guide for 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 we 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 closely 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 to be both 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 some animal flesh should never be eaten (Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14).

Even so, AIDS could have ended there. But it didn't. Those who were initially infected had sexual relations with their spouses—but with others as well. In violating God's laws forbidding adultery (Exodus 20:14), those who were infected unknowingly passed on a death sentence to their unsuspecting spouses and 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 people not 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 what amounts to a death sentence.

That's a terribly costly price to pay for ignorance. Isn't it about time we paid attention to what God says, not only about health but about all aspects of our lives? UN