Isn't the Scourge of Aids a punishment from God?

A statement making the rounds in many Christian circles runs something like this: "Those homosexuals are finally getting what they deserve. A person can abuse God's law for only so long. The Lord will eventually catch up with him. AIDS is God's way of bringing back sanity to sexual behavior. AIDS is God's way of wreaking vengeance on sinners."

The AIDS epidemic does seem to be a natural result of people's not following God's direction, and the sickness has awakened a strong need to abstain from illicit sex. Yet there's something foul smelling about the self-righteous judgments contained in the comment above. The image of God is so vengeful; it just doesn't sit well with me.

We Christians must distance ourselves from any judgment about people suffering from AIDS. Statements about their sinfulness or lack of it are not for us to make. When we sit in judgment on a person, we are falling into the same original sin of Adam and Eve in their attempt to be like God. It is not for the Christian to make paternalistic judgments but to be a person of service, forgiveness, and mercy.

As for my struggle with the idea of a vengeful God, I know that you can quote me book and verse from the Bible that show where God as wrathful from the flood of Noah's time to the destruction of Sodom during Abraham's life. But I honestly can't reconcile the God of my experience with a God who acts cruelly.

Further I cannot envision God rubbing His hands in sadistic joy as He sees a young man racked with pain in the last stages of the dread disease AIDS. To allow that would be to deny Christ's abrogation of the command "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." The God of my life is the God Isaiah describes as a loving mother unable to forget the child of her womb and the father of the prodigal son. That father is God patiently waiting for his prodigal son to return after the son had wished him dead and then squandered his inheritance.

In present-day society, many people have subtly developed a "hierarchy of sin" according to which sexual sins are the most abhorrent. Although I in no way condone sexual immorality, I find that the stress on this sin allows sins of perhaps greater gravity to be considered as not all that important. As long as there is no sexual impropriety, many people think they can supply bullets to friends who kill people we don't like, stockpile nuclear bombs, ignore a dehumanizing farming problem, and shrug off racism as an issue of secondary importance. We must reach out to people with AIDS as Jesus reached out to lepers with the tenderness of love that is neither judgmental nor condescending. Like Him we must join our touch with prayers for healing. And added to our prayers should be support for the research that will bring a medical cure for AIDS.


Anonymous said...

With so many states approving gay marriage, one would think that the AIDS epidemic in the US would abate. The spread of AIDS seems to have been due to multiple partners and not using protection.

Anonymous said...

Bless you Anonymous - When I sit in quiet awe of God's love for me and allow my own brokenness to come forth, I find I have little time to see the splinter in my brother's eye because the log is so big in mine. Peace-