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Should The Church Have The Right To Demand A HIV Certificate Before Marriage?

I have been a passive follower of the threads on this forum and I must say I am highly impressed with the comments and topics. I have decided to throw in my own topic and it is:

Should the church have the right to demand that about to be wedded couples do a HIV test before getting married in church? This was the topic of a recent debate in a BBC Africa living interactive programme. Sometime last month the Catholic Church in Botswana issued a statement that about to be wedded couples should take a compulsory HIV test before they are allowed to be wedded in church, what is your view?

My view is this: much as I agree with the uncompromising abstinence policy of the church, on this issue I think the catholic authorities in Botswana with all its good intention got it wrong. This policy in my view only goes to stigmatise people living with HIV. Education I think is the key not stigmatization. Don’t get me wrong I am not encouraging people to get married no matter how “blindly in love” without first checking their status.

I believe the decision should be voluntary and consensual. Possible flaws this policy might encounter include the fact that the church has not the means of authenticating the validity of the HIV certificate, what happens if one party tests positive days or even months before marriage. You don’t need a soothsayer to tell you then that one of the parties is positive and in a society like ours where stigmatisation and ignorance is rife one can only imagine how the life of the affected party would be like thereafter.

People should be counselled on the menace of HIV, testing should be voluntary not compulsory! What do you think?

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The test should be voluntrily, no one has the right to force and no one should be forced to do such a test. If there is anything you need from the church and the test result is been asked for one should just go and get it from somewhere else.

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Me i don't even know where these people get this kain idea that's just bang out of order. Should the church offer advice yes, should they counsel big yes but to force and then ask for a certificate please that to me is an intrusion. When i was about to get married i was told that i'd have to do a pregnancy test 3 weeks to my wedding and then bring the certificate to the pastor. I bluntly refused and had a xtian ceremony elsewhere not because I was pregnant but because i consider it an intrusion and invasion into my private life. Somebody should tell these churches where to get of sometimes

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I think the fact that the church is trying to curtail the spread of this terrible disease from spreading to the younger gereation is a good think but for God sake requesting for a test result from the intending couple should be a voluntary thing to do. It should not be stipulated or enforced on them. For God sake presenting an HIV test result doesn't stop the parties involved from getting married outside the church or even forgetting the marriage aspect and start living as one under the same roof. To me all this act tends to push alot of people far away from God.

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sounds very reasonable!

i like that

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One has to be very careful when discussing issues of HIV status in a society where victims are highly discriminated. The church can sensitise and let couples take the decision as to whether or not they want to go through HIV test. the emphasis should be on eductaion trying to make it compulsory gives the whole thing a bad gloss.

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@ riya

the church isnt trying to pull anyone apart, if God has joined you together good for you! what about the children you will have? u will dispense with all means of protection, not so? do you want to give your partner HIV? (if you have it and dont know your status), do you want to transmit HIV to your kids? the church is just helping you to consider such because the HIV test is kinda scary and you might not want to do it, or you may think you at not at risk

as i have said over and over again, the botswana case is an extreme one, it is not the norm, the church just wants you to know what you are getting into

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Well, i don't think any church has the right to ask people to take a test , compel them to take a test or even force them to take a test before marriage. These churches mean well but it really is not their business. They can only advice them to take a test before marriage while the marriage counselling is going on.It is now left to them to decide whether or not they want to.

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I think the catholic church in Botswana is going independent. The universal church, as of today has not made a HIV certificate a conditio sine qua non for the rite of matrimony. I believe they will be brought to order (i.e the Botswana prelates) if proper representations are made to the appropriate quarters. (Rome) Inasmuch as the church preaches abstinence before marriage, it does not and should not preclude HIV positive members from receiving the holy rite of matrimony. What would Jesus do?

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Most of you guys here are talking blindly. You think that in marriage HIV only affects the couple involved,

STOP! and think about the children and the extended family. Did you take that into consideration before getting married? The church has no right whatsoever to force you to do something, they can only help open your eyes to things you havent thought of about. Dont you know that when 'you are in love', your eyes and ur common sense don blind finish?! Abeg make una chill out.

gigitte, thank you very much. A lot of your comments are insightful

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well i wouldn't say they have the right but whatever they do is in the interest of the couple

itz simply for their safety and security

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You are right But if the Church advises you to have the test done but both of you don't want to, Both of you still know of the risk.

Its not about hiding it but making it open to the public.

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true, let me backtrack and rephrase

your HIV status doesn't really affect your ability to be a good parent (intrinsically) and raise your child as a soldier for christ. on the other hand, witholding your HIV status from a marriage partner is an issue of trust and honesty, on which i hope you will agree with me are very basic tenets of marriage.

i know your HIV status esp mother will probably affect any and all children, but health services cover that adequately so no need for the church to butt in

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There are more ways to aids than sex @ Gigitte

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@makeda

PMTCT techniques are available in parts of nigeria

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Thanks Girl, i was thinking i was alone on this!

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@ kajad. talk to them oh!

no where on the post does it say the church will deny you marriage if you are HIV positive. that is a HUGE LIE, and please do not project wrong intentions on the church, abeg. like i said before, they strongly encourage ppl to get the test, so that everybody is on the same page, how can you be getting married to someone whose status you dont know, that is just silly. like i said before, maybe some ppl started doing strong head (why in the world dont you want let your partner know your status, are you really in love) and the church had to become harsh

yes you can question the right of the church to withold the sacrament of holy matrimony from ppl who have not confirmed their status but shikena, they are only forcing you to confront reality, if you dont want to, (and i dont know why you dont want to) there are other churches, there is the registry and there is trad marriage.

lastly, im sure that if you get a certified doctor to say you have both taken HIV tests and know ur status, the church need never know what said status is

@mamaput, there is no reason to ask for HIV status before baptism, because you are not going to sleep with your child after he is baptised now. just as the church has no reason to ask for HIV status from a pregnant woman, because medicos will do that one fo sho

knowing is beautiful. it may be scary, yes i've been there but go get tested!

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You speak like a Catholic. FYI the Catholic Church in Nigeria requires HIV test before marriage. No one said they will refuse you marriage if any of the parties is positive. They only insist that the couple should have a knowledge of their status Simple! And what is wrong with knowing the HIV status of your partner before marriage?

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It is none of the churches business. Marriage is a Holy Sacrament and to hold it from people just because they are HIV positive is not a right the church has. People should be allowed to marry whoever they want, as long as the two people involved are okay with it then why should the church be bothered. Also here in America there have been new procedures developed which allow HIV positive people to have children all the time with out the kids being exposed. I do not know if this has been developed in Nigeria yet but it is possible to have children who are not infected with the disease. The church has to know when they have stepped over their bounds and are infringing on people's rights.

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I agree with you that the church should not compel people to do HIV test. But considering that no one wants to do the test in Nigeria; I believe they might just be right. I have done the test twice; first when I was dating a doctor and second when I changed job; I never found the palpable fear funny. Ordinarily, very few Nigerian man will want to do the test for obvious reasons.

I think by requiring the church is trying to protect the woman.

That’s my opinion please.

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IMHO, the church shouldn't. The government? maybe, but definitely not the church.

Bottomline, if 2 pple decide to get married, it should be up to them to make their spouses-to-be to get tested, and not to the government to dictate their every day lives.

, and that's my 2 cents

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The church has no rite to do this at all.If there are some churches who are practising this kind of behaviour its wrong , and if i was a member of such church I will move out of that church in 5 gear no reversing at all to join other churches

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Who said that the church will not marry HIV positive couple(s)? As far as i know the church will marry terminally ill person as long as both partners are aware.

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I can not beleive for one minute that the church will have or exercise this right.

Next you will be saying that there should be new leper colonies created. If a church will not marry a couple with HIV then they are not a real church that should be attended by Christian followers. They should be closed down and bulldozed.

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A lot of churches even demand for Genotype as well. The intention is to encourage the parties to know the health or medical statues of their mates. While I don’t feel comfortable with the HIV test. I think it is very necessary in the present world.

Marring in the church is not compulsory; one can just marry the in registry without these protocols. But for the church; they will only wed the parties when the are sure that the results are known by both of them and they still want to go ahead.

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very soon they will ask for aids tests before they baptize the baby.

by the way what happens if someone has aids and still wants to marry?

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No business of the church what so ever!!!

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It makes a lot of sense for couples about to wed to know their HIV status. The Church should be encouraged it to ensure that prospecting couple is making true decision based on complete knowledge of their partner. Obviously a HIV negative person will most likely opt out of any arrangement if the mate is positive.  

However, considering premarital sex is common today; church intension some times may have been overtaken by event, but, its still important 4 both partners 2 know.

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The church should content itself with the role of educating potential couples and couples alike on the risks associated with "reckless" exposure to acts capable of causing STD's in general and not just AIDS / HIV.

Going ahead to demand HIV test results is stepping out of line/jurisdiction. Such is the sole responsibility of the couple (man & woman) concerned. They have only come before the Church to "bless their union" and not for "medical check up".

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It is not the Job or the business of the church to decide whether they will marry a couple with HIV.

It is their Job to educate people on safe sexual techniques and methods.

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I know a lot of folks who are still scared of takin the HIV test. Can u now imagine someone asking such people to take a test before gettin married.

What i think the church should be doing is join the crusade and start [or continue] to educate church people more on the AIDS pandemic.

Believe me, Church people are more prone to HIV infection because the truth is some church people sleep together and because these 'coming together' usually happen by 'accident' they are not likely to use protection, the church needs to educate christians more and talk more openly about these things.

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it is the business of the church to determine the HIV status of would be couples to avoid a complete breakdown of law and order in the society.

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It is no business of the church at all !

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furthermore i doubt the church is going to put it on the banns of marriage that so so and so is HIV positive, it is just to foster discussion

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my good man, i think you are misunderstanding the church's intentions. i believe the intentions of the church are to force a dialogue between couples on issues they may not have necessarily discussed before marriage. the danger of HIV infection is one amongst many. they are just trying to make sure everyone is on the same page because only God knows what is in the hearts of men. as mamaput said, they need to go for counselling (pre-cana) before they are married and this is part of it. me i think it is a very laudable thing to do, perhaps the case in botswana is some ppl started doing strong head and not wanting to provide results (God knows why) and the church started to seem harsh in demanding it. just as you would want to know your blood genotype, knowing your HIV status is beautiful!

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Yes O, in todays world, the Church has to play its part and demand all the kind of certificates possible just to make sure they(the Church) doesnt cause problem for some unborn children.

exampe: we have a lot of sickle cellers in the nation nowadays, which maybe if those couples had received the right medical advice, their kids wont be in such a mess today.

Agree with Zahymaka, based on the couples if they are both positive.

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Why should they? It's the man and the woman that have decided -- if they're both positive nko? As long as the couple is okay with it, the church has no business prying into their affairs. Or, at least that's what I believe.

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