December 1st is World AIDS Day. AIDS is quite an intriguing problem, as hypothetically AIDS could be eradicated within a generation. Finding a cure to save those with AIDS is a worthwhile goal, but preventing the spread could save millions more lives and make distribution of the cure easier. If no one else contracted HIV/AIDS, it would be gone. The issue becomes diagnosing and encouraging everyone to be educated, aware and cautious.
But I think Christians should really reflect on how best to respond to the AIDS crisis worldwide. Do we simply support finding a medical treatment? Or do we look closely at the deeper issue- the spread through unprotected, promiscuous sex, contact with contaminated blood, etc.? Our campaigns for abstinence in the past seem to have been ineffective, so what new strategies do we propose? The “sex outside marriage is wrong, don’t do it” message has been ignored by many. So do we encourage the distribution of condoms to reduce the spread? Condoms of course won’t eliminate AIDS, even if everyone uses them- they of course aren’t 100% effective, but do reduce the risk. Is there one “Christian” response? Or do we each have to come to our own conclusions as to how God would each of us respond?
Doing nothing is obviously not an acceptable option. The Church shouldn’t sit on the sidelines, or wag fingers at the folks who slept around and now have to accept the consequences. Jesus reflects the model of compassion to those whose sin have left in the deepest of holes. Jesus surrounded himself with prostitutes, lepers, and the afflicted of his day. Chances are Jesus of Nazareth would walk with those with AIDS. The risen Christ is calling us to the same compassion which was modeled to us. Russell Moore has composed a provocative piece on his blog- Jesus Has AIDS, illustrating his conviction that Jesus has identified himself with the brokenness of humanity, and embraced the afflicted. Jesus has not contracted HIV/AIDS, but suffers alongside them. Perhaps we should do likewise?
We could create leper communities for AIDS, isolate anyone diagnosed, and prevent the spread. Or we could show true compassion- care for the sick and dying, advocate for awareness and education, encourage testing, and pray for a cure.