Pastoral Letter on AIDS and HIV
The Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which is the result of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), has become a worldwide health problem of monumental concern. What are we to do as a church, and as ministers, officers and church members in responding in a Christ-like manner to AIDS/HIV, and to those affected by it?
We must take practical steps to extend the love of Christ to those persons, families and friends who are affected by this disease. Recognizing that each EPC congregation must make decisions about the use of its resources, the following are some practical recommendations which may be considered in responding to AIDS/HIV, and those affected by it:
- That we support and participate in a compassionate and caring ministry that is aware of the spiritual, physical, emotional and financial needs of those affected with AIDS/HIV, their families and friends.
- That we recognize that millions have contracted AIDS/HIV without engaging in sinful behavior. These victims are also in need of pastoral care and compassion as our Lord demonstrated to the man born blind (John 9.1-5).
- This ministry will be centered on the hope of the Gospel. That Gospel offers love, forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus Christ. Those who contracted AIDS/HIV through sinful behavior need to hear the Good News of forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus and the hope of full restoration and healing in this life or in the life to come.
We must seek to understand from God's perspective the immense pain and suffering that is produced by a disease like AIDS/HIV. The Bible teaches that the creation God originally declared good became corrupted under His sovereign will. "For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God" (Romans 8.20-21). This corruption of creation took place when sin entered the world as a result of the fall of mankind. We live in a world of afflictions, diseases and calamities, to which any of us can fall victim. Disobedience to God and His commands increases corruption in our lives, and in creation. When people refuse to obey God's holy standards of morality, they become more vulnerable to diseases such as AIDS/HIV, and they put others at risk of its terrible consequences.
We affirm the infallible rule of faith and life, God's holy Word. Here we find God's prescription for the lifestyle and behavior that will provide greater protection from suffering the horrors of AIDS/HIV. For example, God commands, "Flee from sexual immorality... Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body" (1 Corinthians 6.18a, 19, 20). Heterosexual promiscuity, homosexual behavior and drug abuse are to be strictly avoided not only on the grounds of personal risk, but ultimately in obedience to God. Addressing sexuality, God's Word repeatedly affirms sexual expression has moral sanction only within the bond of heterosexual, monogamous marriage. The prohibition against drug abuse fails under Scripture's injunctions against drunkenness.
As a church, and as individual believers, it is our responsibility to proclaim and live in faithful obedience to these and other life-giving, life-preserving commands given to us throughout the Bible. It is also our responsibility to minister to those affected with AIDS/HIV with the compassion of Christ regardless of the circumstances surrounding the contraction of this terrible disease.
Adopted by the 25th General Assembly