Christianity and HIV
As an outsider who shares many values with sincere and faithful Christians, I am
troubled with the apparent lack of effectiveness of their most common approaches to
the current HIV crisis. The Christian ultimate objective of saving souls is not universally
shared, and arguments from that perspective will not be persuasive to a general
audience. However, even if we were all to agree to that goal, the current Christian
approaches are allowing far to many bodies and souls to be taken by HIV.
The approaches which Christians are taking toward this issue publicly [viz., to outsiders
as well as co-religionists] will herein be considered. The essence of the most typical
arguments will be explored. The impact of same will be analyzed, critically. Alternatives
will then be proposed. When pronouncements are made through the media and the
popular press by Christians as Christians, the impact upon perception of the faithful is
at least as great as upon the issue in question itself.
It is possible to have an ethical position promulgated which has the potential of mass
appeal without compromising any fundamental principles. Any pronouncements on an
issue as critical as HIV must take into consideration the current cultural climate.
Wanting of that, the risk of merely offending and the opportunity to reach a recalcitrant
mind to a moral perspective is lost [as is the opportunity to save a lost soul].
It is also true that, a ‘value-neutral’ approach is also ultimately doomed to fail. Doors
may be opened with a ‘non-judgmental’ approach, but the root causes are not
addressed. Popular opinion notwithstanding, HIV is a consequence of moral decisions.
Yet, there is significant cadre of Christians who loathe to even suggest a moral cause
Clearly the most favored approach is what I will call the ‘compassionate
non-judgmental’ method. This is also most typically used by secular treatment facilities
and is looked upon approvingly by the mavens of the popular culture. A typical example
can be found in article generated by the AIDS National Interfaith Network. In it they
proclaim that the “enormity of the pandemic itself has compelled us to join forces
despite our differences of belief.” (ANIN 1)
Further, we are told that “AIDS is an affliction of the whole human family, a condition in
which we all participate.” (ibid) The assertion is then made that “God does not punish
with sickness or disease.” (ibid) Now, if we agree that the Almighty is infinite and we, as
individuals are finite, how can anyone make such a definitive assertion of the intent and
method of Deity? This fallacy will be explored later; it is abused by advocates of several
The authors lay out their objectives: an emphasis on prevention for those not yet
infected and “non-judgmental care, respect, support and assistance” for those who are.
They are “committed to transform public attitudes and policies.”...