Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Sermon Example Creates Bad Blood!

When a South African Pastor, Xola Skosana, got to his sermon last Sunday, his hearers got a bit of a shock for the the topic was "Jesus was HIV-positive!"

As much as I can go along with the concept that Jesus shares our joys and pains and did, as a man, experience the challenges, desires, trials and tribulations that we face, I think perhaps Xola has taken things a little too far. I can but identify with the man, for I too have come out with some extremely 'Over The Top' (OTT) illustrations and associations over the years. But, ignoring the furore for a moment, let's try to see what Xola was trying to say.

The Pastor (rightly in my opinion) told his listeners that "Jesus put himself in the position of the destitute, the sick and the marginalised. Wherever you open the scriptures Jesus puts himself in the shoes of people who experience brokenness. Isaiah 53 clearly paints a picture of Jesus who takes upon himself the infirmities and the brokenness of humanity."

Seeing HIV+ as yet another infirmity, Xola has extrapolated the Isaiah passage and thus Jesus was HIV+ and if He was, those who are can see God as being one of them and if it's good enough for God to be HIV+ then there's no stigma or shame in being HIV+ either.

BUT - HIV+ is generally regarded as a sexually transmitted illness even those some have contracted the condition through blood transfusions, inherited from birth and other 'non-sexual' means.

I don't think Jesus ever had a blood transfusion (that will please the JWs).

If he inherited HIV+ from his mother, assuming her not to have had a blood transfusion either (more cheers from the JWs), this would perhaps suggest that she'd been sexually active and was not therefore a virgin. Then again, being the 'god bearer' (theotokos) she only carried Jesus and the genetic material and the like wasn't hers (a lively discussion point on many an occasion).

I don't think Jesus ever engaged in a sexual relationship and so that rules out another route by which He might have been infected.

What I think Xola should have said was:

"Within the body of Christ we find many who are HIV+. They are loved, valued, pardoned and forgiven and valid and valuable members of the Church and therefore the Church must be considered to be HIV+.

South Africa is a nation with around on fifth of the adult population is HIV+ and something approaching half a million die of the illness each year, leaving behind over 1,500,000 children as orphans, this attempt to remove the stigma and get people talking should be understood as a right motive, wrongly executed.

Food for thought, not an excuse to ignore the plight of a nation and engage in the riding of high horses - after all, He might not have been HIV+, but what would His take on this be?


David said...

My understanding was that he wasn't saying that Jesus HAD HIV - despite using those words - but that Jesus identifies with the marginalised and stigmatised.

The point was to get people talking. And hey, it worked.

Vic the Vicar said...

I was just saddened to hear people respond to the words and miss the point the man was trying to make.

It is so easy for us to let our indignation get in the way of our recognition of a situation.

Of course he did use the words, but people needed to see past them as much as he might better employ a little discernment.

Still, seems we both agree - always a good thing.

Thanks for the post,