AIDS and the church

I think I've figured it out. Not that I didn't know it before, but it has crystalized for me now. As it pertains to the Black church and institutions modeled after it (NOI), there are two directions people try to take it. Some people see it as a spiritual institution first. - Well, some people see the church as a spiritual institution only, but that's why I refer specifically to the Black church and not the Christian church in general. From its inception, the Black church has been engaged in civic/social issues. It has never been solely a spiritual institution, for better, worse, or six of one, half dozen of the other. - Some other people see it as a social institution organized around a shared theology. Now, I'm not gonna be the one to try to say what somebody's relationship with Jesus is based on their politics. There may be some other litmus tests, but even they can yeild misleading results, depending on when I make the observation. With the exception of Jesus, nobody in the Bible absolutely had his thing together. We remember them for how they finished, not how they were along the way. Look at a small portion of the wrong part of the life of Moses, David, Peter, or Paul, and you'd think they were mortal locks to go to Hell. None of us has achieved perfection, we're just at different points along the way. Sometimes people may drift off the road, but I think it's one thing to be drifting and it's another to be on the wrong road altogether. For whatever that's worth. Dawn Turner Trice writes about a church in Chicago that has had an HIV/AIDS ministry for about 12 years and is getting requests from other churches who want to start similar programs. She writes
Historically, the black church hasn't been too keen on dealing with HIV/AIDS or issues of sexuality, particularly homosexuality. But look at the statistics: In Chicago, 15,900 people have the disease, with African-Americans making up 56 percent of the total; nationally blacks make up 12 percent of the population but account for more than half of all new HIV infections.
I don't think it's that the church has been reluctant to deal with issues of sexuality - especially homosexuality - I think it's that the church has been reluctant to accept homosexuality. There's a difference. It's the church. It's not the NAACP. I have been ragging on the NAACP for two days, so let me say this right here: I don't think the NAACP as an organization is unnecessary, but I do think it has lost its way. The NAACP should be the social institution that people keep trying to make out of the church. The church, as a biblically-based instituion, has no business endorsing homosexuality. That's simply inconsistent with what the church is founded on. (Now, if some alternative church-type organization arises and tries to claim that the mainstream denominations are misinterpreting the Bible or whatever, then that's on them. That's between them and the Lord.) The church doesn't have any business accepting homosexuality, explicitly or implicitly, any more than it does accepting heterosexual fornication or murder or anything else on the list in Rom. 1:29-31. The 2ACP, on the other hand, has none of those restrictions. That's where people of varying sexual orientations and political persuasions and whatever other differences there might be should be able to debate and hash out ideas and ideals and work out a social vision and a plan for getting there. The NAACP should be the place for ecumenical conversations. Not the church. Now, I'm not saying that the church should act as if HIV/AIDS don't exist. Christians are supposed to visit the sick and care for the needy. That's our job. Conservative, liberal, apolitical, or anywhere in between, the fact that you're not fornicating is moot if you can walk around and act like you don't give a ...um... like you don't care about the sick and the poor and the hungry. Like the old song says, "everybody talkin bout Heaven ain't goin." What's more, that statement is probably more self-reflexive than most people realize. So again, the church has a responsibility to stand in the gap for people with HIV/AIDS. They just shouldn't neglect their spiritual foundation to do so. The church mentioned in Turner-Trice's article, Trinity United Church of Christ, seems to do that. "They focus on abstinence, but they also talk about healthy sexual behavior," she writes. That's a pretty muted description, but I'm guessing that it would sound a lot like this description of the AIDS prevention program at work in Uganda (thanks La Shawn)
The Ugandan leader credited with slashing HIV rates in his country insisted Monday that condoms are not the ultimate solution to fighting the AIDS scourge, saying abstinence and loving relationships in marriage are even more crucial.
Now that's how it should be done.