The short answer, from many people of faith, is "No! Absolutely not!" Yet some people have answered the question "Yes". Indeed, some members of what has come to be know as the radical religious right praise God for the tragic epidemic which is claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of human beings in every part of the world. Because HIV/AIDS was associated in the first years of the epidemic with the gay male community in the western world, many from the radical religious right have used this pandemic as a weapon to further their own homophobic agendas.
The idea that HIV/AIDS is a punishment from God is based on three faulty assumptions:
- that homosexual acts are sinful
- that God causes suffering
- and that God punishes sin with disease.
These false assumptions result from a particular way of looking at society, sexuality, and how God works in the world.
(the unrealistic fear, hatred, and rejection of lesbians and gay men,) is based on these assumptions and the world view they reflect, and in tragic misunderstanding of the meaning of Christ. It is the responsibility of Christians to overcome this fear and misunderstanding, and to witness to God's love and grace.
Are Homosexual Acts Sinful?
There are a few passages in the Bible that have been said to condemn homosexual acts. Currently there is much debate about these passages. Some Christians believe these passages condemn all homosexual behavior. But a growing number of Bible experts are convinced these passages condemn only certain sexual acts that are idolatrous or abusive.
For example, many Bible scholars believe that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), condemns rape, not homosexuality. Rape is a violent act and irrelevant to loving same-sex relationships.
Other passages in the Bible, such as Ezekiel 16:49-50, identify the sin of these cities as injustice and idolatry. Likewise, some religious authorities point out that New Testament passages like I Corinthians 6:9 and Romans 1:24-27 deal with sexual behavior that is unloving and exploitative (such as pedophilia or the temple prostitution common to that era). But even then, the Christian message is one of forgiveness and healing.
Jesus said nothing to condemn homosexuality, but he said a great deal about faith, hope and love. Certain passages of the Bible, around which there is no debate, assure us that everyone has access to God by faith.
John 3:16 teaches that whosoever believes in Christ will have eternal life.
Lesbians and gay men who believe in Christ are part of the "whosoevers" (as stated in John). Not only does the Bible not condemn loving same-sex relationships, it has many positive images and references to physical intimacy and sexuality. Examples include the stores of Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan, and the book of The Song of Songs.
- Many Christians today believe that sexuality, both heterosexual and homosexual, is a good gift from God.
- Gay men and lesbians need to remember and to know in their hearts that sex is good.
- People of faith are called to celebrate and affirm the inherent goodness of sex.
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