As the 2012 International AIDS Conference continues this week in Washington, D.C., Franklin Graham shared in a blog post his thoughts on how the Church should act toward those infected with the life-threatening disease.
According to Graham, who serves as the president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, the Church should not condone premarital or extramarital sex, but it should show compassion toward victims of the disease.
In a blog written for The Washington Post on Monday, Graham says those who have contracted HIV or AIDS are often "shunned" and treated like those with leprosy were treated in Bible times.
"Yet, Jesus reached out to them, touched them, loved them, and healed them. This is the perfect representation of how the church should respond to people living with HIV/AIDS," Graham said, according to the blog.
Samaritan's Purse has been working with those affected by the disease since the 1980s, and Graham praised government officials who have recognized the church as a valuable resource in the fight against it. In particular Graham mentioned George W. Bush, whose President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief allowed faith-based organizations like Samaritan's Purse to participate in offering special health programs.
Beginning with PEPFAR, Graham said, Samaritan's Purse has provided 1.25 million people with information about preventing the spread of HIV and has also provided HIV testing and counseling to about 2,000 people.
The best way for a person to avoid contracting the disease, Graham says, is by not having sex outside the context of a monogamous marital relationship between a man and a woman. In addition, he says, sex outside of biblical marriage is contrary to "God's standards."
"I am not an advocate of passing out condoms to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. We should not condone sex outside of marriage," said Graham. "When a crowd dragged the adulterous woman in front of Jesus and prepared to stone her, Jesus forgave her and said, 'Go and sin no more' (John 8:11). I cannot imagine Jesus giving her a condom and saying, 'Keep doing what you are doing and try to protect yourself.'"
According to Aids.gov, a website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are over one million people living with HIV in the U.S. today. One out of every five, however, is unaware that they have contracted the virus.
In 2009, men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for 61 percent of new HIV infections in the U.S., as compared to those who received it through heterosexual contact (27 percent) and injection drug use (nine percent). Those most affected by the disease are young, black MSM.
Franklin Graham: Church should be compassionate to AIDS victims
By: Jeff Schapiro , Christian Post
Thursday, 26 July 2012, 0:48 (IST)
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