In an interview with CT deputy managing editor Timothy C. Morgan, Kay Warren spoke about whether abstinence really works and a new way of looking at HIV/AIDS prevention. It's so distinctive that Saddleback has placed it under copyright protection.

Probably what you are most familiar with is A.B.C. [abstinence, fidelity, or condoms]. Let me address that and then tell you the way that I look at it.

I have yet to find anybody who will look me in the eye and say, Being a virgin is not the best protection.

Virginity is the best protection against HIV, if you look at it sexually. What happens is that people say, "That's absurd. Nobody can control that. Women are raped. Girls are vulnerable to men who beat them, force them to have sex. Women can't tell their husbands, if they suspect them of being unfaithful, to wear a condom."

Yet when you really look at them and say, "Okay, can you tell me that virginity is not the best protection?" They have to grudgingly say, "Yes." And I say, "Great, we agree on that one."

How about each partner being faithful to each other in their relationship? Isn't that an incredible protection for people? And they have to say, "Yes." They'll quickly say, "That's not possible."

I say, "Let's just start with the ideal."

Being a virgin is a protection. A monogamous relationship is a protection. We can all agree on that. And—this is where very conservative people will disagree with me—condoms used consistently, correctly every single time, add a measure of protection against the transmission of HIV.

Because A.B.C. is so controversial, we've reframed it.

If you want to S.L.O.W. down the spread of HIV:

S Support the correct use of condoms every sexual encounter.
L Limit the number of partners, because studies have also shown that the greatest risk is in multiple partners.
O This is very controversial. Offer needle exchange. Studies have shown that in some places clean needles can slow down the transmission of HIV.
W Wait for sexual debut. Studies have shown that the younger a person is at their his or her sexual encounter, the more likely it is that he or she will be infected with HIV. So if you can encourage people to wait until they're older, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, before they have their first sexual encounter you can slow down the spread of HIV.

I have an even higher goal: I don't want to just manage HIV. My goal is to end HIV. I want the world to be rid of this evil virus.

So to STOP it requires a different strategy.

S Save sex for marriage.
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T Teach men and boys to respect and honor women and girls. If men continue to treat women with such disrespect, HIV will be on our planet for a long time to come. So there's a discipleship element.
O Offer treatment through churches. We think that those things that I told you about, those six things that churches can do, when the church is involved, it can stop the spread of AIDS.
P Partner with one person for life.

When we reframe it like that, barriers go down. We want to do the best for people, which is to stop it.

Related Elsewhere:

Kay Warren spoke further about her ministry in "Q&A: Kay Warren," also posted today.

S.L.O.W. and S.T.O.P. are copyrighted terms of Saddleback Church. Learn more about the terms of use from their website.

See our AIDS/HIV section for more.

Purpose Driven's AIDS section has more on Kay Warren and how to S.T.O.P. AIDS.

Dangerous Surrender is available from and other retailers.

Other articles on the Warrens and their ministry include:

Painful Decline | Saddleback Church assumes Purpose Driven, scales back programs. (November 21, 2006)
Close Encounters with HIV | Local churches should network in the war against the virus. A Christianity Today editorial. (February 1, 2006)
Speaking Out: Politically Driven Injustice | Fixing global poverty requires more than Rick Warren's PEACE plan. (February 1, 2006)
Hurricane Heroes | Government may have been tripped up by Katrina and Rita, but the Southern Baptists, among others, are standing tall. (November 1, 2007)
Warren, Hybels Urge Churches to Wage 'War on AIDS' | Hundreds of evangelicals attending Disturbing Voices conference repent, refocus on outreach to outcasts. (December 2005)
Purpose Driven in Rwanda | Rick Warren's sweeping plan to defeat poverty. (October 2005)
Forget Your Bliss | The success of The Purpose-Driven Life reveals a cultural opportunity. A Christianity Today editorial (March 9, 2004)
Saddleback's Social Capital | The author of Bowling Alone discovers Evangelicals can be trusted at the civic table. (March 2, 2004)
A Regular Purpose-Driven Guy | Rick Warren's genius is in helping pastors see the obvious. (Nov. 8, 2002)

PBS's Religion & Ethics Weeklyinterviewed the Warrens in 2006.