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Question: What does the Bible say about herpes?

Answer: Someone might ask, "What is herpes?" Herpes simplex virus can cause symptoms on the mouth (oral herpes) or genitals (genital herpes). About 50 to 80 percent of American adults have oral herpes, which is commonly called cold sores or fever blisters. It is estimated that as many as one in four Americans have genital herpes, a lifelong (but manageable) infection, yet up to 90 percent of those with herpes are unaware they have it. With more than 50 million adults in the US with genital herpes and up to 1.6 million new infections each year, some estimates suggest that by 2025 up to 40% of all men and half of all women could be infected.

Having genital herpes makes it easier to acquire and/or transmit HIV, a virus that can cause AIDS. Transmission is caused by close oral, anal, or genital contact, including intercourse, masturbation, kissing, or any direct skin-to-skin contact which allows for the transmission of bodily fluids.

Here is the experience of a 18 years old female from Trinidad: "I'll never forget my first outbreak. The pain and irritation it was terrible. Now I don't have it anymore but I still worry that it may affect my family plans in the future."

You ask what does the Bible have to say about herpes, and my answer would be it does not use the word "herpes" but it does talk about diseases. We need to understand that when Adam and Eve sinned they brought all sorts of evils into this world. These evils came from Satan. Diseases are in the world and all of us are affected by them. Does that mean that everyone that gets a disease has sinned? No, the Bible is very clear on that point; let's look at what it has to say. "Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.'" (John 9:1-3)

So Jesus made it clear that all diseases are not necessarily the fault or result of sin of the individual. Sickness and diseases are in the world as a result of Adam and Eve's sin, but not always as a result of the individual's sin. Look at this verse also: "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven." (James 5:14-15) So some people who are sick have not gotten their disease because of their own sin.

Then again there are verses that make it clear that some people's disease or sickness' are caused by their own personal sin. "But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, 'See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you." (John 5:13-14)

If a person is involved in sex outside of marriage he or she can expect to get STDs. "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man (woman) does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his (her) own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18) That is not to say that any and everyone that is infected with herpes or other diseases did something to deserve getting it. Let me give an example. Suppose a spouse has always been righteous in their life, but they are married to someone who contacted herpes, this disease can be passed on to an innocent party. As a result of someone else's sin the spouse may get herpes or STDs. This is true of other diseases such as AIDS which could be passed to the unborn. Did the unborn sin that they were born with the disease? No, of course not, as Jesus pointed out. However, sin of one individual can and does affect the innocent around them, just as Adam and Eve's first sin affects us still today. Now all of us are born with sickness of sin in our lives.

Can Jesus help in this situation? Yes, He certainly can, and wants to! When He was here on this earth He went around healing all sorts of diseases. His Holy Spirit is still doing the same today! Scripture says of Jesus ministry: "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people." (Matthew 4:23)

The world will tell you that it is alright go ahead and have "safe sex," everyone else is doing it. The problem with this philosophy is that it is dead wrong. The only "safe sex" is being faithful to your spouse in marriage. You see, even if you avoided getting STDs, one day you will have to answer to God for every action. If a person sins their sin is first and foremost against God. He is the one who created us, and we are responsible to Him.

"Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18) You may be laden down with sin, but Jesus will forgive you and make you as white as snow on the inside. He also says to you: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

Maybe you have been deceived by the Devil's lies, that you can have sex outside of marriage or be involved in extramarital affairs and all will be fun with no consequences. Like the world says: "If it feels good, do it." But now you realize that these were lies of Satan, sin does have consequences, and you want to come to Christ for forgiveness. God loves you and wants to save you. Ask Him to forgive you for your sin, and ask Him to save you from your sin and He will. He will make your life new and clean. He will give you a fresh start. He will make your soul as white as snow, won't you receive Jesus now?

You may want to read our discussion question: "What does the Bible say about "Love" among youngsters, which is spreading like a plague?" Or these other articles:

Pornography And The Bible

Jesus Forgives Adulterers!

The Bible and Homosexuality

The 'L' Word-Does God Love Lesbians?

Thanks for the question,

Gary Thomas Panell

For more information email me.

To view other questions visit our Interactive Bible Study Page or read some of our Christian Literature at Bible-Christian.org

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Gary Tomás Panell
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Keywords: sex, sexual, intercourse, fornication, immorality, lust, std, sexually transmitted disease, herpes