Valerie Schultz concluded her Nov. 12 column "Pro-life for all" by writing, "If we believe life is sacred, we must be life's protectors." These particular words compelled me to offer a reply, since Schultz has frequently advocated, if not encouraged and validated, homosexual practice or what many refer to as "the gay lifestyle." As an individual that knows all too well the realities of homosexual practice, having combated the HIV virus since January 1993, I am regularly alarmed by those who promote it never having practiced the behavior or lifestyle themselves.

I remain convinced that an appropriate question to consider is: Are the qualities or consequences of homosexuality beneficial or detrimental to individuals? If homosexual behavior is essentially detrimental to an individual, thereby greatly threatening the sanctity of life, then society has the responsibility to resist it, and certainly should not endorse it as acceptable.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) represent approximately 2 percent of the U.S. population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV and are the only risk group in which new HIV infections have been increasing steadily since the early 1990s. In 2006, MSM accounted for more than half (53 percent) of all new HIV infections in the United States, and MSM with a history of injection drug use (MSM-IDU) accounted for an additional 4 percent of new infections. At the end of 2006, more than half (53 percent) of all people living with HIV in the United States were MSM or MSM-IDU. Since the beginning of the U.S. epidemic, MSM have consistently represented the largest percentage of people diagnosed with AIDS and people with an AIDS diagnosis who have died.

While AIDS is not solely a homosexual disease, the disease was confined almost exclusively to homosexuals in the beginning years of the epidemic in the United States. I personally witnessed this horrific tragedy unfold while living in San Francisco, having several personal friends die of AIDS at the beginning stages of what is now a pandemic. Tragically, the reality and threat of AIDS has not stopped men from engaging in unprotected sex and the continued risk-taking by many does not appear to result from a lack of awareness.

There is, therefore, little to no evidence that homosexual practice can be anything other than a severe threat to the sanctity of life. That said, all efforts should and must continue to better understand and find a cure for AIDS and AIDS-related diseases. However, if the sexual behavior that is fundamental to most homosexual practice constitutes the primary means of transmitting such disease, then it only makes sense for society to do all it can to decrease such behavior, which ultimately protects the sanctity of life.

In her column, Schultz wrote, "Somewhere along the line, the hard work of Jesus to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth got softened." I couldn't agree more. Today, maybe more than ever, what matters morally should be determined on the basis of our best understanding about what constitutes human well-being. Those behaviors and lifestyles that promote physical health are to be encouraged, while those that are essentially injurious are to be avoided.

For each and every faithful follower of Christ, all life is sacred and to be celebrated. As society and the church continue to ascertain the rightness or wrongness of homosexual practice, I will continue to hope and pray that more will consider the undeniable facts regarding the effects of homosexual practice, which often greatly impacts if not reduces the longevity and sanctity of life.

Is it possible the reason God has been so specific in his word about not practicing certain behaviors is because he is doing his utmost to protect us from unseen dangers?

The Rev. Phillip Lee is executive director of His Way Out Ministries of Bakersfield.