Friday, November 5

Jesus Had HIV

Jesus was HIV-positive.

This is a metaphor recently used by a South African pastor in a three part sermon series. He is quick to acknowledge that there is no proof of Jesus actually having HIV, nor is it truly important whether or not he did. Pastor Xola Skosana says, “the best gift we can give to people who are HIV-positive is to...create an environment where they know God is...not ashamed of them."”

His choice, however, seems to have sparked an intense debate across religious circles. Some see this as scandalous whereas others see it as a chance to reach out to those who are HIV-positive and gives people better means to reach across cultures for mission work.

My first reaction to this article was one of shock and disagreement. Jesus having HIV? Living in the culture of the United States of America HIV is often associated with sexual promiscuity. Therefore I was quite angry that this preacher would insinuate that Jesus was sexually promiscuous for the purpose of making him seem more human.

But then I took into account the culture of Africa, where HIV is not necessarily a product directly from sexual promiscuity (though of course it would have roots there), but rather from the HI-virus being genetically passed down from parent to children. According to avert.org, in 2008 over 2 million children have HIV across the globe with ninety percent inheriting it from their mothers. And then those children grow up and are adults with HIV aids, and in many cultures they are looked down on.

Pastor Skosana goes on to say, “The message to the church is that it is not enough for us to give people food privately and give them groceries, we must create an environment that's empowering because most people who are HIV-positive will not necessarily die of Aids-related sickness but more of a broken heart, out of rejection.” It is when I considered this that I began to appreciate what Pastor Skosana is doing. The last thing a church should be doing is to create environments of hostility. And this is the point of the sermon. Christians are called to reach out to the hurting and the poor. Sadly, there are Christians who view those suffering with HIV/AIDS as having received punishment for their sins. But we need to remember a few things. 1) HIV can be inherited and may not have resulted from anything done by the person suffering with it. 2) If HIV was contracted as a result of sexual promiscuity, it does not prevent anyone from God’s grace. All have fallen short of the glory of God – people with HIV, people without, Pastors, political leaders, CEO’s, regular everyday people.

In his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller writes about in living life we are creating our own story. So let us help those with struggling stories. Let us lift them up in prayer. Let us learn about their situation so that we can speak truthfully and knowledgeably about it for ourselves and to others. Let us not vilify those who are victims. When believers can band together in this, then I believe Pastor Skosana’s wish of HIV being de-stigmatized will finally come about.

It is an interesting way of getting his point across, but I hope Pastor Skosana is successful in the message he hopes to spread.
If you wish to read news articles concerning this event they are here and here.


And here are two great posts I found about the topic.
One (by someone currently suffering with HIV)
Two

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