Walking straight

Last week a man came in for a health check. I offered the standard pathology tests, including a “men’s check”, in the most no-obligation, neutral way possible. He worked as part of the teaching staff in an Aboriginal ministry college but it’s hard to assume anything about patients. I work in an Aboriginal clinic, in a region with some of the highest rates of STIs in the country.

He looked at me, not dismissive or offended, but gave a considered response in simple English (not his first language). “Yeah we can do check up, but I don’t think I need it.” Then he explained, “I’m a church leader in community. I need to walk straight,” and gestured a straight line forward with his hand.

“I’ll be honest, when I was young man I came to town and drink. Not drunk, but drink a bit, and have women. You feel attractive when you’re young.” He continued, “Now I don’t do that. We need to practice what we learn. I’m community leader as well, you can’t go to meetings with everyone looking at you and know you do those things.”

Wow, I don’t expect patients to articulate their commitment to church leadership with integrity, in the middle of a consultation:

“In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.” – 1 Timothy 3:8-9


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