Original Research

How do clergy in the Afrikaans-speaking churches deal with sexuality and HIV prevention in young people? Is the message clear?

Alta C. van Dyk
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 38, No 1 | a1762 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v38i1.1762 | © 2017 Alta C. van Dyk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 April 2017 | Published: 14 November 2017

About the author(s)

Alta C. van Dyk, Department of Psychology, University of South Africa, South Africa


The purpose of this study was to investigate how clergy are dealing with HIV prevention and sexuality education of young people in their congregations. An electronic questionnaire was filled in by 142 clergy from white Afrikaans-speaking churches in the Reformed tradition. Results showed that 77% clergy believed that unmarried young people in their congregations are sexually active. More than 85% clergy agreed that it is the task of the church to provide sexuality and HIV prevention education to young congregants. However, not many clergy (13%) offered HIV prevention programmes for young people in their own congregations. The main HIV prevention message 85% of clergy were prepared to share with young congregants was ‘abstinence only’ or ‘your body is the temple of God’. Only 15% clergy (significantly more female clergy) were prepared to offer comprehensive sexuality education (abstinence PLUS) programmes. The HIV prevention message of the church should at least be in line with the lived experiences and reality of its youth in today’s society. The church can no longer afford to alienate young people through moralism only. She needs an approach that satisfies both morality and reality.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article has implications for the fields of psychology, HIV and AIDS research and pastoral care. It challenges the way the church prepares young people to cope with HIV in a modern society and suggests change in terms of a greater participation in the sexuality education of young people.


HIV and Aids; Adolescence; Sexuality education; Pastoral care; HIV-prevention; Abstinence; Comprehensive sexuality education.


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