AIDS: WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? There are few more explosive topics in America than AIDS. Conservatives believe AIDS is God’s judgment on certain sinners. Gay rights groups and others scream just as loudly that this is a medical issue, not a moral one. Who’s right? And how should Christians respond to this overwhelming problem? In one sense, AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is primarily a medical issue. The AIDS virus attacks the body’s immune system, making the body defenseless against the diseases a healthy person’s immune system would destroy. AIDS is an “equal opportunity” NIGHTMARE—it affects everyone: young, old, male, female, gay, or straight. If AIDS isn’t a punishment from God, why has it hit the male gay community and IV drug abusers so hard? The answer is that gay men and IV drug abusers participate in activities that pass the virus from person to person very effectively. God hasn’t singled out particular groups for special judgment; rather, those people engage in activities that are particularly risky in regard to the transmission of AIDS. God created the universe to run in accordance with NATURAL LAWS, like gravity, inertia, etc. When your try to defy those laws, you lose. You may not like the law of gravity, but jump off a building and you will—like it or not—encounter it. There are natural laws governing human behavior, too. One such law is that your body is not made for sexual promiscuity. Violate that law and you RISK contracting AIDS or other diseases (syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, etc.). Likewise, your body was not made to handle large amounts of drugs. Continually inject them into your veins and you probably will experience a lot of physical problems—one of which may be AIDS. So it’s not that God is using AIDS to “get” certain kinds of people. AIDS simply is a natural—though terrifying—result of human behavior that goes against God’s design for our lives. Those who believe AIDS is a special divine judgment simply don’t understand the reality of their own sin. As the psalmist wrote in Psalm 143:1-2, “Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my plea! Answer me because you are faithful and righteous. Don’t bring your servant to trial! Compared to you, no one is perfect.” A cure for AIDS is still years away; but even if it weren’t, the only reasonable, Christian response is to follow God’s standards for sexual morality. Sex is made for marriage only—to be kept in the context of a faithful, monogamous relationship between husband and wife. Anything else is unbiblical, sinful, and potentially fatal. Likewise, we must reaffirm God’s ownership of our body by not abusing it with drugs. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you? . . . God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” Where we have failed to live up to this, we need to confess our sins, repent, and ask God’s forgiveness.
Many Christians also need to confess their judgmental attitudes toward persons with AIDS. There is no room in Christianity for feelings of superiority or self-righteousness. Jesus had strong words for those who were guilty of spiritual pride, of thinking they were better than others. Our response toward anyone with this terrible disease should be concern, compassion, and a hand reaching out to ease his or her pain and distress. Isn’t that how Jesus deals with people, regardless of their sins?