Having spoken and listening to lots of people during the conference who are dealing with pastoral care for those marginalized in our society there is still a question which is haunting me quite for some time:
How can we minister to such groups like those who are gay, or are HIV positive (and not married) or transgender, or drug-addicts when the moral judgement of the faithful rather scares them away then making them feel embraced and loved?
I ask this question specially on the back ground of HIV being most prevalent in men who have sex with men.
Some would say, if they don’t have sex with each other, they wouldn’t infect themselves. Right, that is exactly the kind of answer I am making the case for…
Yes, I know, we love the sinner and hate the sin, but that is just “a say” – how can we say we love gay people but we reject their feelings and their happiness when it comes to practical terms, when we forbid them to live out their love.
And is the AIDS pandemic consequently not just a very welcomed way to enforce such a moral judgement and infringement of basic human rights and adding to the stigma and consequently discrimination of those “unfortunately not by God made so perfect” people?
Or how comes that in many countries, where homosexuality is a crime with severe punishment the church is rather on the side of the oppressors than of those fallen victim to such practice? And supports with it a lesser chance that the gay person receives adequate treatment and care.
Take Uganda – where the debate about AIDS and GAY and DEATH PENALTY is not quiet and still in political debate and where the church “for the protection of family and marriage values” rather condones the state orders killings (called execution) instead standing in for the dignity and human rights of every son and daughter of God in this world. Where is the sanctity of life in this case?
When we don’t uphold the sanctity of life in all aspects, we have a big problem being taken serious. There is no gamble or choosing when to advocate the holiness of life.
There is no half a dignity, there is no limited human right, there is also no mistake in the creation of mankind – God saw that it was good and if he sees it, why we are blind at times? He gave us eyes to admire his creation as well…
Pondering these thoughts I do understand why HIV/AIDS is a calling to put our thinking, our comfort zones, our theology, our way we discover God to the test – it is a like a deep calling to engage with all these minority groups who are the hardest hit by the pandemic. By engaging with them, by bringing the unconditional love to them I am sure we suddenly discover a different face of God, another glitter in his eyes watching lovingly over each and everybody.
HIV and AIDS is not only a medical problem; it can only be overcome when we end stigma and discrimination, when we end our “Sunday sermons” and change those silent disapproval which so easily can get out of hand.
And yes, I know that we care about all these people in need in a practical sense, and we are great in it. Without the churches involvement the plight of so many marginalized people would be even more big – but we can do better in lovingly accepting that God’s creation is much bigger as what we think and give to us as margins for our life. Only then can we be advocates for life; only then can we be truly advocates for the living God and his unconditional love. We just pass on what we have received.
Coming back to the beginning of this blog part:
We can only work pastoral with people who feel that we take them as they are, we can only work spiritual with people who feel embraced with all their life structures, with all the things making them the person they are. People who are afraid of the church, who are afraid of the “intrinsic evil” they are committing according to our teaching, are lost for our pastoral care, are practically excluded even if we try to cover up with the “evil” with smart words that we don’t mean it that way.
HIV and AIDS confronts us as Christians, as the church with our own shortcomings, prejudice and perceptions… it is up to us to let this confrontation happen in the best sense of the word to discover what we still lacking in meeting the mercy and unconditional love of God we are called to – now and here.