I recently received some correspondence from a charity looking to promote HIV awareness.
After declining their offer of teaching sessions, I was given the following questions to answer that I thought would be insightful for others in answering similar*:
(Why is it that the highest prevalence of HIV is amongst the Black African Christians?)
1. HIV thrives through fornication – that is illicit sexual contact between unmarried people. This happens everywhere, not just Africa, but perhaps western amenities shield the consequences to an extent. However, contraceptive protections are simply treating the symptoms and not the root of the problem – that God ordained that men and women should live for life in faithful, monogamous relationships, or remain single and abstinent, and fallen man’s continued violation of this.
That these people claim Christianity while violating its basic teachings in sexual immorality is not an indictment against the gospel or sound biblical teaching, any more than those that believe the growing numbers of ISIS reflect true Islam**; it would simply suggest that in Africa you have the greatest number of people that claim Christianity while violating it.
(Surely more than just the biblical understanding of purity is required?)
2. Yes I agree, what people need is conversion – to be born again (John 3:3). Without this all you have is man trying to maintain a religion and failing anytime that that religion clashes with his own desires. Once people get right with God through the atoning death of Jesus Christ, they are then in a position to receive teachings on purity and abstinence, and obey them by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14). This world needs salvation AND teachings on sexual purity.
(Why are those infected/affected living in fear of the ‘Church’ as opposed to having the church as a support?)
3. We welcome and provide all the support we can to people living with any form of ongoing disease or sickness, and actively believe for the healing of the sick – we have several testimonies coming from our churches in Africa – particularly Namibia – where people have been healed of HIV/AIDS by the power of God.
I cannot speak for other churches, but I am sure cultural taboo has a hand to play in how some are treated. However, the culture of God’s kingdom is not to be defined by region or race but by His Word. We see Jesus there reaching out to all sorts of sick people, such as lepers, who were often ostracized. Although He healed them in love, He often told them to repent of the sin that had brought the sickness (John 5:14). While we always act in love, we cannot do a disservice to both man and God by ignoring sexual sin and trying to treat the symptoms only.
(Why are some men, purposefully infecting others, whilst knowing their status?)
4. The men who are doing this are part of the same sinful humanity who are doing many evil things around this world, and have done so since we rebelled from our Creator. While I could never condone their actions, we are sometimes quick to point the finger while ignoring our own failings. The Bible teaches that breaking one of God’s commandments is as good as breaking them all.
(People need to understand the word ‘Purity’ and how to achieve it.)
5. Yes, I agree. Although I disagree that it can be achieved any other way than through the shed blood of Jesus Christ and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, according to scripture. I had every chance of catching an STD before I gave my life to Christ, but now I have zero chance of catching or spreading HIV/Aids as I am in a monogamous marriage to one woman, and have been for seven years. I understand that it is sometimes contracted via blood transfusion, but the person who gave the blood likely contracted it from sexual immorality or much more rarely, an infected marriage partner who had concealed it from them – I stand against both sexual immorality and lying.
I wish you all the best in your endeavors, and please do not think that I and my church’s heart is not to help people – I am afraid we must simply uphold biblical standards in doing so.
*Email edited slightly to protect privacy. **Not sympathizing with those who hold this view, simply appealing to a popular argument.