|Do you have an opinion? Your letters 8-1
Friday, January 30, 2009
Your front page headline reads “The Fight Against HIV/AIDS Still Rages After 25 Years" (November 23, 2008 – December 6, 2008). Right next to it is information on the World AIDS Day Program on December 1st.
How do people get HIV/AIDS? Does it appear like measles or mumps? Of course, most people have AIDS because of freely chosen immoral sexual behavior: adultery, fornication and homosexuality. Others develop AIDS by sticking needles in their bodies as they attempt to escape reality. By their sinning they condemn millions of innocent spouses, children, blood transfusion recipients and rape victims to living hell on earth. We should only honor the innocent victims of HIV/AIDS, not the immoral ones who bring this venereal disease on themselves.
On November 20, 2008 about 1,000 AIDS activists marched in Washington, D.C. challenging President-elect Barack Obama to put an end to the AIDS epidemic. The only real solution is for immoral people to stop sinful behavior. You can march, make quilts, light candle, and give all your money to find a cure, but it will never work because even if a cure for HIV/AIDS is found, the continual sexual sinning will only create a worse disease. Amen.
Pastor William Landers Gutel
Dear Pastor Gutel,
It’s with a sad heart that I respond to your letter. While certain some persons who have HIV may have engaged in behaviors you find offensive, that doesn’t decrease their humanity or their need for compassion. In fact, your response is exactly the type of condemnation, and ostracizing that has lead to the expansion of this deadly virus -- particularly among African-American youth 14-24.
By recriminating those persons whom you claim to lead, you’re condemning many of them to death-- spiritually and physically. The HIV epidemic isn’t going to be stopped by condemning behavior and demanding only that people follow what you describe as the only way to live. The HIV epidemic requires a compassionate, powerful and thoughtful response-- without judgment. This means we must stand up and say the best way to prevent being infected by this virus is to abstain from sexual activity and drug use. However, if you’re unable to do this, here are the tools you need to protect yourself. With such a compassionate response, we encourage people to find their better selves, rather than to slink about in shame and fear of retribution by those who claim to represent a powerful, forgiving God.
I’m reminded by scripture that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Not one sin is greater than another, and Jesus responded to us all, in our human foibles through compassion. As a man claiming to follow God, you are required to share that compassion.
Jesus gives us a perfect example of dealing with this type of situation. Remembering that being a leper during Jesus' life was comparable to being HIV positive in American culture-- including the condemnation of sins and immorality-- Jesus not only walked with the lepers, he healed them with compassion. He rose above the condemnation and found compassion.
Luc Montagier, who co-discovered HIV, has said a therapy vaccine for those infected with this virus is within our reach-- and within five years. But until the United States recommits itself to finding a therapy and preventing further infects, we all have a responsibility to rise above condemnation and to work together to find ways to prevent this virus from destroying our community.
This means when you hold health fairs, HIV testing and information are presented as readily as heart disease, cancer and diabetes information. And let us be clear, we know how to prevent heart disease, cancer and diabetes in our community. They represent changes in the way we live. You have no condemnation for those who are overweight and suffering the heart disease of consequence, or those who have smoked and have COPD as a result. You address them as health threats. HIV is no different. I ask you to see the plank in your own eye, rather than the speck in the eye of others, and to join me in addressing HIV as the severe threat to the safety and welfare of our community that it is.
Are you prepared to host HIV testing? Are you prepared to call people to know their HIV status? Are you prepared to work with those who are infected and effected by this virus? To join them in the compassionate model which Jesus has provided us all?
From The New Citizens Press staff
Editor’s Note: TNCP contacted Lansing Area AIDS Network (LAAN) in November of 2008 for assistance with a response; however, they have yet to respond.