As an outsider who shares many values with sincere and faithful Christians, I amtroubled with the apparent lack of effectiveness of their most common approaches tothe current HIV crisis. The Christian ultimate objective of saving souls is not universallyshared, and arguments from that perspective will not be persuasive to a generalaudience. However, even if we were all to agree to that goal, the current Christianapproaches 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 outsidersas well as co-religionists will herein be considered. The essence of the most typicalarguments will be explored. The impact of same will be analyzed, critically. Alternativeswill then be proposed. When pronouncements are made through the media and thepopular press by Christians as Christians, the impact upon perception of the faithful isat least as great as upon the issue in question itself. It is possible to have an ethical position promulgated which has the potential of massappeal without compromising any fundamental principles.Order now
Any pronouncements on anissue 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 recalcitrantmind 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. Doorsmay be opened with a non-judgmental approach, but the root causes are notaddressed. Popular opinion notwithstanding, HIV is a consequence of moral decisions. Yet, there is significant cadre of Christians who loathe to even suggest a moral causeClearly the most favored approach is what I will call the compassionatenon-judgmental method.
This is also most typically used by secular treatment facilitiesand is looked upon approvingly by the mavens of the popular culture. A typical examplecan be found in article generated by the AIDS National Interfaith Network. In it theyproclaim that the enormity of the pandemic itself has compelled us to join forcesdespite our differences of belief. (ANIN 1)Further, we are told that AIDS is an affliction of the whole human family, a condition inwhich we all participate. (ibid) The assertion is then made that God does not punishwith sickness or disease.
(ibid) Now, if we agree that the Almighty is infinite and we, asindividuals are finite, how can anyone make such a definitive assertion of the intent andmethod of Deity? This fallacy will be explored later; it is abused by advocates of severalThe authors lay out their objectives: an emphasis on prevention for those not yetinfected and non-judgmental care, respect, support and assistance for those who are. They are committed to transform public attitudes and policies. (ibid 2) Theseattitudes which are to be transformed are the sins of intolerance and bigotry. We areadmonished to remember that AIDS is not a gay disease.
(ibid) The policiesgovernment? which need such transformation are alluded to in the assertion thateconomic disparity and poverty are major contributing factors in the AIDS pandemicand barriers to prevention and treatment. (ibid)Not included in this advocacy for prevention and education is any assessment inhow the behaviors which transmit the disease may be major contributing factors. Nowhere in this missive is the suggestion that any effective education might need toinclude what those who are infected may have in common and what could be learnedWe are instead expected to take the leap that intolerance and bigotry and economicdisparity should be the focus of our efforts in the struggle against AIDS. Are we tosuppose that even they actually believe this to be true? Do they really mean to implythat the original outbreak of HIV/AIDS and/or its continuation was caused by peoplewho consider the behaviors which transmit the disease to be morally abhorrent? Also, there are places where HIV/AIDS are virtually unknown which have an essentiallymedieval socio-economic structure viz.
a great deal of economic disparity andpoverty. The social mores in these traditional societies are as equally backward incomparison to ours as are their economic situations. How are we to assess that?Claudia L. Webster, a Board of Directors member of the United Methodist GeneralBoard of Global Ministries advocates what I would characterize as the practicalapproach.
Church leaders are encouraged to facilitate discussion and educationtargeted toward adults, teens and children. .