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Scriptures and Theology
Is AIDS God's Punishment for Homosexuals?
By Mel Barber
This is a very legitimate question, and may best be answered by considering the following similar questions: Is Measles God's punishment upon children? Is Sickle Cell Anemia God's punishment upon blacks? Is breast cancer God's punishment upon women? Were locust scourges and the plague God's punishment upon early Mormon pioneers? Is cancer of the throat God's punishment upon President Kimball?
The accusation that AIDS is God's punishment upon homosexually oriented people comes directly from the Christian community, including many of our faithful LDS brothers and sisters. Yet Jesus himself refuted the claim that there is any direct correlation between sin and disease. During his time it was commonly assumed that human suffering was the direct result of sin. But Christ taught differently:
"And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." (John 9:1-3)
Today, the world is caught up in exactly the same controversy, as they debate the question 'Who sinned, that this child is homosexual, the child or the parents?" We hear our beloved Church leaders say at one time "homosexuals must repent" and then turn right around and say it is the result of "poor family life," "weak mothers and absent father, "strong mothers and weak fathers," "a mother's stress during pregnancy," and on and on... They blame fathers, mothers, friends, "the world," Satan, other homosexuals, anyone they can point a finger at, yet when the child says "I can take no more, I am just me, and I want to live peacefully, quietly, applying the principles of the Gospel in my life as I see appropriate to my circumstances" they reject, disfellowship or excommunicate the child.
Applying Christ's teachings about the blind man, it might become apparent to the sincere seeker of truth that sickness and disease is generally caused by viruses, not by God. Do people today get blindness, deafness, cancer, AIDS, leukemia or other diseases because of sin? If the Master were here to answer, I am certain he would say"Not necessarily so!" When Christ reached out and touched the blind man, he transformed human suffering into a living witness of God's love. Likewise, we can point fingers, place blame, judge and accuse, disfellowship and excommunicate, or we can take advantage of the opportunity to put the Gospel to work in our lives and transform suffering into an example of our own understanding of the message of the Master.
I will not venture to answer the original question, for no matter what I might say, there are those religious fundamentalists, both LDS and non-LDS, who will still cling to preconceived and prejudiced opinions that reflect the popular attitudes of the world. But for those who would venture to apply the principles of the Gospel of Love in their lives, I would say "let us take advantage of this opportunity to understand and grow and show our love to those who appear to be less fortunate than us."