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"Jesus was HIV-positive"

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William Crawley | 13:42 UK time, Saturday, 4 September 2010

That's the title of a sermon by the Reverend Xola Skosana (pictured) of the Way of Life Church in Khayelitsha, near Cape Town, a township with one of the highest rates of HIV in South Africa, who says he preached the sermon to challenge the conspiracy of silence over HIV by South African churches. The pastor also took an HIV test in front of his congregation and encouraged worshippers to follow his example.


Pastor Skosana's sermon has been praised by HIV campaign groups in South Africa, but some Christians have accused him of portraying Jesus as "sexually promiscuous". The pastor believes that this judmental response by some believers typifies the problem the church faces in dealing with the HIV crisis.

Pastor Skosana explains why he has used such a controversial image: "In many parts of the Bible, God put himself in the position of the destitute, the sick and the marginalised. When we attend to those who are sick, we are attending to Him. When we ignore people who are sick, we are ignoring Him. If I went to church and never heard the pastor talk about this, I would assume I must go home and die in silence. The message is that it's an unpardonable sin, and we must just forget about HIV / AIDS. My responsibility as a pastor is to open a Bible and paint a picture of a God who cares for people and wants the best for them, not who judges them and is ashamed of them."

Is it theologically appropriate to claim that "Jesus was HIV-positive"? We'll debate that question on this week's Sunday Sequence with Steve Chalke, author of The Lost Message of Jesus.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I find in interesting that church people immediately jump on the sex angle.

    A more rational mind might have said, well how could he have contracted it ?, could it be through his ministry of the sick that he was cross contaminated while treating open wounds of a person who was HIV+. Given his work a small but present possibility.

    In fact if the church people were not so obsessed with what other people are doing in bed, they might see something virtuous in a person sacrificing their own health in the pursuit of helping others (something I assumed was christian).

    Maybe church people are so blinded by their obsessions that they can fail to see something christian in what even Jesus might have done.

    But oh no, sex to the fore again.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think it's a very powerful message and metaphor. Jesus (at least if some of his hagiography is to be believed) identified with the outcasts and down-trodden, and I have no doubt that he would have accepted the label of HIV positive (anachronistic though it was, of course).

  • Comment number 3.

    Jesus was HIV positive:
    sermon to challenge the conspiracy of silence over HIV by South African churches. Pastor Skoasana also took an HIV test in front of his congregation, encouraging others to follow.
    Some Christians have accused him of portraying Jesus as "sexually promiscuous". As the pastor says this accusation is part of the problem; you know: you cannot get HIV unless you “sleep atround, especially with other men”.
    The Pastor’s desire was to image a picture of a God who cares for people, wants the best for them - not who judges them and is ashamed of them.
    Personally, I do not believe that God is this involved with himankind. I do not believe that God cares this deeply. Rather, I believe that God is we and we are God; therefore, God is our collective consciousness, the collective consciousness of our universe. That’s why we experience both good and evil. It is up to we conscious beings to move the collective consciousnes forward, to build our own world, to balance the ying and the yang, and to see The Kingdon of Heaven on Earth.
    As for the possibility of Jesus being HIV positive, not possible, wrong era, HIV did not exist; having said that, if Jesus showed up today, I’m practically positive that he would have the loving compassion to protect himself and his partner with the application of a condum.
    As for the book “The Lost Message of Jesus” (Steve Chalke and Alan Mann), it asks the extremely fundamental question:
    Who is the real Jesus?
    Have we remade Jesus into our own image and then wonder why our spirituality seems so....empty?
    "The Lost Message of Jesus" stirs the pot.
    Jesus was, without a doubt, a deep thinker, a philosopher, usually out-of-step with the Roman-world reality. Would you have the courage to take your philosophy, your beliefs to Roman Crucifixion?
    “The Lost Jesus” demonstrates the influence of culture. Do we have the courage to challenge our culture, criticize it for being too materialistic, too unkind, too blind to the needs of others?

  • Comment number 4.

    Dave (@ 1) -

    "I find in interesting that church people immediately jump on the sex angle."

    And what I find fascinating is that if one Christian does something offensive then every other Christian is convicted of guilt by association. That's not particularly rational, is it?

    What you should have written (if you were being rational) is "I find it interesting that some church people immediately jump on the sex angle.

    In fact, William's post provides evidence that there is at least one Christian who is not being offensive, namely, the pastor who delivered this sermon.

    So why tar everyone with the same brush?

    (By the way, I had a Christian friend who died of AIDS some years ago. It is not clear how he contracted it, but it may have been a medical blunder. He was an African pastor, and I am not aware of ANY Christian casting aspersions on his sex life. There was only sorrow and compassion. So it sickens me when I read the sort of prejudice and ignorance trotted out by the tiresome anti-God brigade.)

  • Comment number 5.

    I am not entirely sure that there is merit in something like this. We have all witnessed the backlash that followed cartoon depictions of a certain prophet. I think it is best to steer clear of controversy and of potentially insulting religious doctrinaire types. It's feeble to act so irrationally. South Africa is in the grip of an Aids pandemic. There are far too many people practicing unsafe sex. I believe that the good reverend should rather work on educational matters and stop using religion to put the fear of God into folks. I run a light-hearted but very useful bingo blog that does tremendous work for the community. I don't offend anyone's faith or beliefs.

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm assuming we're ignoring the fact that HIV only crossed over to the human population at some point in the 20th century? Possibly from eating contaminated ape meat?

    It's a good way to provoke controversy, but the biological impossibiity amused me :)

  • Comment number 7.

    Natman,
    I think the anachronistic nature of the sermon is accepted but the pastor was using dramatic license to aid his allegory, quite common in biblical works I believe.

    LSV,

    Interesting point and I should have used some christians, but your point raises another question (along the lines of who was the true Jesus) and that is who are the true christians.

    There is supposedly one god, one jesus and one set of books which are supposedly clear in their depiction of christianity so which christians have the interpretation right and what happens to all the rest?

  • Comment number 8.

    But Dave...

    How do I know when allegory is being used and when is it literal? He didn't say 'this is made up' beforehand, therefore, he must be speaking truth. Surely you can see that! Else, when reading the bible, people might get the impression that it's an allegory too, and it's fairly obvious, despite the evidence otherwise, that it's a 100% factual account of the origin of the entire universe and how everyone in the world should live their lives.

    (/sarcasm)

  • Comment number 9.

    Nats, and where the heck would you ever get *that* silly idea?? Next thing, they'll be depicting Jesus with blond hair and blue eyes! Sheesh!

  • Comment number 10.

    I agree with Helio (2). It is a good idea to challenge people and present the unexpected - can allow them to reflect on their reactions/prejudices etc if they are able and willing to do that! The time period is not relevant - of course he is just using a modern day scenario to convey a message about Jesus - to make it real and relevant instead of some historical story of little significance in modern day life. It is great that he is trying to convey a message of God that is non-judgmental given how many churches do the opposite - esp here and presumably in Africa also. It reminds me of something that I once heard Pete Rollins say - re Jesus being in the place of the outcast and the weak - I could imagine him coming up with something like Jesus being HIV pos. to get a message across.

  • Comment number 11.

    I hope the Roman crucifixion team wore gloves... ;-)

  • Comment number 12.

    Helio,

    if they anachronistically wore gloves from St Pio it might explain the ressurection.

    Natman,

    I stand corrected and bask in the inerrant truth of scripture.

    Funnily I spelt inerrant wrong and the first option the spellcheck gave me was incoherent - was this divine intervention?

  • Comment number 13.

    What the Pastor did was morally right and for the love of his parishioners. In fact it's made me quite emotional. To backlash against this shows a lack of any love, understanding or empathy for human beings. Using Jesus as a rolemodel in this way to help is in the spirit of what his message was trying to instill in people. This is one reason why the Pope to me represents the antithesis of any good in human nature & Christianity, affirming condoms should never be used.The only way you can control sex and everything that goes with it, is by removing the sexual components from our body. Maybe that's one option for priests- to become eunachs

  • Comment number 14.

    I would have thought the first responsibility of a Christian pastor is to communicate the truth according to Scripture.

    Does Jesus care for the rejected and outcasts? Of course.
    Does he condone the kind of sexual behaviour mainly responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS? Of course not.

    It is a real tragedy that so many are still unwilling to face the inevitable consequences of an immoral sexual lifestyle, but the Christian message to them is to repent and trust in Christ. True Christian love surely demands nothing less.

  • Comment number 15.


    Having just listened to the YouTube clip (linked above) of an interview with Xola Skosana, my reaction is simple, I saw and heard nothing which would lead me to think that Rev. Skosana has anything in mind other than the gospel of Jesus. This was reinforced by his comments reported in the linked report where he is quoted as saying, "In many parts of the Bible God put himself in the position of the sick, the marginalized," (and ultimately, of course, in the place of the ‘cursed’).

    Listen to his comments on the You Tube clip: he is calm, measured, orthodox, compassionate. He speaks of the gospel switching on the light, of a living relationship with Jesus. He wants to contribute to his community with a centre to bring hope and opportunity. He wants to responsibly preach the gospel.

    If we are going to be so socially and theologically illiterate as to complain about what Xola Skosana has said then it seems to me that that is only because we do not want to listen to him.

    Coincidentally, we have another example of a church liturgy posted on this blog and reference to a ‘theological Punch and Judy fight’. Given a choice of liturgy, I’ll choose Xola’s everytime; perhaps I should say, “Liturgy? This is the way to do it!”

  • Comment number 16.

    I suppose you could make the point that the majority of congregants in Christian churches really *are* too brain dead to even know about the impossibility of Jesus the Nazarene *actually* having HIV; plenty of those congregants believe that ancient myths about talking snakes and worldwide floods are supposed to be taken literally too. Clearly they're not ready to move beyond the baby food, but it's a bit tragic that they retard the progress of those who would wish to move to more challenging meals.

  • Comment number 17.

    PastorPhillip,

    "so many are still unwilling to face the inevitable consequences of an immoral sexual lifestyle"

    Please tell me you're not advocating that HIV/AIDS is some sort of punishment upon mankind for a 'immoral sexual lifestyle'. I'm sure a god of love would not stoop so low as to condem millions of people to death just to catch out a few people who aren't educated enough to wear a condom when having sex.

    There is a vast number of unfortunate children in Africa whose only 'crime' is being born to a mother who had AIDS. There is a vast number of other unfortunates whose only crime is either receiving infected blood, or being infected accidently another way.

    No disease is gods punishment, unless god is sadistic, random and cruel.

    Oh, hang on, isn't this the god you claim flooded the entire world?

  • Comment number 18.

    pastorphilip,

    Rather than lecture us on sexual morality (if I needed someone else to set my moral standards I would attend a church) could you please tell us, as a pastor, whether Pastor Skosana was right to speak as he did and was the reaction appropriate from his colleagues.

  • Comment number 19.

    In fairness, who *exactly* has criticised him? The BBC article and Will's post above leave that pretty open and nebulous.

  • Comment number 20.


    Helio #16

    I don't think I've ever asked this question on here before, but, what point are you trying to make with those comments. Presumably I'm not supposed to take 'challenging meal' literally, I mean, I wouldn't want you to have to cough up a stray piece of cabbage! :-)

  • Comment number 21.

    Natman/Dave

    I think we would be very foolish not to face the moral dimension of the HIV/AIDS issue. I was careful not to say that every case of HIV was the result of immoral behaviour, but honesty compels us to observe that the vitus is spread mainly by sexual promiscuity or perversion. Perhaps this is the 'conspiracy of silence' we should challenge?

    Sinful actions do have consequences - and ALL of us are sinners. I am just glad that God's offer of love and mercy excludes none, and that the Cross of Jesus Christ opens the way for sinful people to be forgiven and changed by His grace.

  • Comment number 22.

    Phil, you sound like Eunice. It's a pity Jesus can't cure HIV.
    Pete, when you're ready to move on, you can dispense with the Tommee Tippee mug and join the adults at the Big Table. :-)

  • Comment number 23.

    Pastorphilip:

    Alot of communities in South Africa suffer the threat of sexual violence. Many people may find themselves in this situation because they are raped. Perhaps you would find it difficult saying it's spread by promiscuity or perversion if this was how a member of your family came to be in this situation. I no doubt suspect because you have viewed the condition as such, the stigma and shame would be added into an already painful mix. It's this stigma and shame Pastor Skosana is trying to deal with.Stigma and social exclusion impact greatly to suppress an already weakened immune system. More often than not, a mothers child may be left to deal with this without any support and possibly end up orphaned.
    The problem with human nature is the laziness we fall into by stereotyping others who we're either scared of or feel no commonality to. This lack of empathy and understanding for others is the root of many problems in this world

  • Comment number 24.

    Pastorphilip,

    ..the vitus is spread mainly by sexual promiscuity or perversion

    The virus is spread mainly by non safe sex practises, drug use, poor barrier precautions in hospitals and Mother to baby cross contamination. I am not aware of too much being spread by perversions (not even sure what perversions you are referring to although I guess they may only be perversions to you).

    I am sure you think lots about gods love etc, but it does not address the issue of actually attacking the horrendous human suffering in S Africa.

    Anyway the question I asked was did you, as a fellow pastor, feel it was appropriate for him to say that Jesus was HIV+ and was the reaction from his colleagues appropriate.

  • Comment number 25.

    Helio 22 - you are having a laugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My views are a million miles away from Pastor Phililp - I do not call people sinners or perverted nor do I ask them to repent and trust Christ or to be forgiven by God! I do not saddle them with guilt in a belief they are being punished etc by God. Perhaps you do not understand what I am saying ?? :-)
    In my book - God does not forgive because he never condemns - unlike humanoids!! He loves them all of the time without exception - the problem is we do not love ourselves and it is because of our own lovelessness (over aeons) that suffering occurs. Despite that - our core essence of love is ever present - so for me people are not sinners but sons of God equal to Jesus - they just don't know it!! In a nutshell and as simple as I can put it!! :-)

  • Comment number 26.

    PastorPhillip,

    What moral dimension? It's a disease, caused by tiny organisms whose only purpose in life is to invade the cells of a host, replicate and spread. There's no moral implications in that.

    Your opinion on the subject is very narrow minded, Eurocentric and it seems fairly clear you view anything other than the relatively recent puritanical view of sex as 'wrong'.

    If, as you say, "the Cross of Jesus Christ opens the way for sinful people to be forgiven and changed by His grace", how come we've never seen your almighty god heal someone who's truely repentant and has abandoned their previously 'perverted' life? Are you suggesting that, perhaps, your god doesn't forgive certain sins, and continues to punish the person even after they've repented? Dying of AIDS is a particulary unpleasant way to die, especially in less developed countries where access to medicines is limited.

  • Comment number 27.

    Eunice, how does that work then? How does the universe keep account of folks' bad woo and feed it back in a different form? How did (according to your notion) Stephen Hawking do this to himself? How did the Jews visit the holocaust on themselves? And why is this any different from saying that people "get what they deserve, therefore they deserve what they get?"

  • Comment number 28.

    It's hard to comment on a line from a sermon without seeing the whole thing. Sometimes a preacher is right to use a provocative opening, so long as he then develops it correctly. Unfortunately lots of people never get the rest and only hear the sound bite.

    That said, not sure it's the best line to use since clearly Jesus wasn't HIV positive. Based on the way he approached people with leprosy no doubt he would have been loving towards those who are HIV positive irrespective of how they caught it.

    He still wouldn't have supported a condom campaign though.

  • Comment number 29.

    MCC,

    He still wouldn't have supported a condom campaign though

    That would be a catholic Jesus then, the protestant one might well have thought that giving a woman whose husband was HIV+ condoms was an entirely appropriate, loving, humane (and even christian) way to act.

    I would suggest that imposing your personal morality on someone even if it kills them is cruel, inhuman and not worthy of a so called civilised society.

  • Comment number 30.

    I would suggest that the morality which encourages and endorses sexual promiscuity is killing people all over the world, particularly in Africa - it is cruel, inhuman and unworty of a civilised society to tell people that their actions have no consequences.

    If the world followed Catholic moral teaching it would be a far better place.

  • Comment number 31.

    If Jesus was HIV positive then perhaps someone can give the numbers of people who have died because of his sexual adventures.

    No wonder I am no longer a believer!!

  • Comment number 32.

    Helio: those are all huge questions that books could be written on!!!

    The last part first - people deserve love and only love because they are love. When they make choices that are not self-caring, self loving that has consequences that they are bringing upon themselves - everything comes back to the self. Everything is interconnected, everything we do/say/think affects everything else. What we put out - comes back to us in some form ( a bit like the biblical what you sow, you reap). None of that is as a punishment but laws of cause and effect and all works towards healing - healing the separation from the love that we are. There are no accidents, no coincidences, no random events - everything is a result of our choices over aeons. People deserve love but we do not give it to ourselves. Indeed many strongly defend their right to continue with consuming substances that are known to be harming - and I have done so myself. How crazy is that???

    We look at a linear snapshot of a situation and see the evil, the awfulness of it - and yes those things are true. Its not about blaming people and saying you deserve this or that - they don't - they deserve love - but the reason why they have this or that is rooted in their own history over many lifetimes. And all attempts are to be made to stop those abuses and evil acts (hitler etc). Mankind has a history of horrific atrocities - man's inhumanity to man has been going on for aeons! Only when mankind becomes aware of his true nature as love, and lives from there recognising all others are that love also will these atrocious acts stop - for it is impossible to harm someone if living from the inner heart.

    Stephen Hawking is mind driven and prob has been for lifetimes - it's not about mind driven intelligence but wisdom of the heart and expressing with the energy of love/joy/harmony/stillness as much as we are able to such that we embody and express with the love and light of God and will having loving thoughts. Eg. The wisdom of the inner heart knows God, knows all people are equal and all are love irrespective of the behaviours that are displayed. It recognises that those behaviours are just manifestations of living in separation to love. Thing is if we do that long enough, the body is empty of love and then other energies can come through and express and evil is manifested. So evil (that which separates us from love) is a result of man not living from the wisdom of the heart, not recognising the brotherhood of man - that we are a one humanity, that we are all equal no matter what the outer appearances, beliefs, religions, race etc.

    Religion, nationlism and culture are 3 pillars that help maintain the separation amongst man, the them and us, the competitiveness etc. We should be co-operating with each other, making best use of each others talents and skills and not competing or fighting against each other.

    There is much more to this all than I can say here. Energy comes before thought or matter - if we do not know which source of energy we are aligned to then we are just puppets being fed by a consciousness. The idea is to re-connect to the inner heart - to be impulsed by the inner heart in all that we do/say and think - obviously this takes practice. Then we know the source of energy we are aligned to - love. Otherwise we are just puppets. It is also about coming to be guided by feelings rather than thoughts.

    The body is the marker of truth - it lives and experiences all our choices and reveals them all - with either a body that is vital/vibrant, joyful and light or one that has illness/disease/addiction etc.
    If the true nature of the body is love, then living mind-driven, emotional, loveless lives is putting stuff into the body that is not of its true nature - that affects the biophysiology through psychoneuroimmunology and epigenetics etc to over time result in illness and disease. Which particular illness or disease will depend on the choices and the biography of that person - but all are rooted in a lack of self -love. One's biography becomes one's biology.

  • Comment number 33.

    MCC,

    Is it sexual promiscuity for a man and wife to engage in sex.

    Is it morally tenable to ban the use of condoms in that relationship if their use would stop her contracting HIV and stop her becoming pregnant and passing the HIV onto her child (either at childbirth or later). Given the certainty of the virus being passed on without protection I see little difference between unsafe sex, the morning after pill and abortion, the end result is the same except that the in the unsafe sex example the child is likely to be born and suffer throughout its short life.

    The use of condom would stop that problem.

    What you describe as sexual promiscuity is not viewed by others as wrong, sex is not a moral choice it is a consensual one (unless force is used). You chose to make it moral for you but for the rest of us science has developed protection, the civilised thing to do is to educate and make it available so that people can chose their own path in safety not ban it and force your morals on others.

    For many on this planet the decision to use a condom when having sex is no more a moral decision than using an umbrella when it is raining or a hard hat on a building site - its a sensible course of action.

  • Comment number 34.

    I think it's wrong for a couple to have sex when one of them is carrying a life threatening disease. It's an unnecessary risk. And in the context of Africa the morality starts earlier with how the person got it in the first place. Virgins who marry virgins tend not to catch such diseases.

    The risk of catching the virus from someone over an extended period is significant with or without the use of condoms. The reduction in risk is not sufficient to justify it.

    My experience of umbrellas is they nearly always break after a short time and in many instances you forget to bring it when you need it.

  • Comment number 35.

    mccamleyc,

    "If the world followed Catholic moral teaching it would be a far better place."

    Define 'better' please.

    Also, define where Catholic morals come from. If you say 'the bible' then please define where these morals are written in the bible (chapter and verse!). I don't recall the evilness of condoms, the veneration of the 'virgin' Mary or the infalliability of the Pope being mentioned once in the bible. But you might prove me wrong.

    I would personally find the concept of a world where catholic morals were enforced to be a joy-less, stifled place, where the actions that you perform are more important than the spirit in which they are done, where things are mandated simply because of flawed theological thinking and where tolerance and free thinking are not only disapproved of, but actively discouraged.

  • Comment number 36.

    "If the world followed Catholic moral teaching, the world would be a better place."

    If the Catholic Church followed catholic moral teaching, Ratzinger and his cronies would be unemployed.

  • Comment number 37.

    mccamleyc #30
    Im pretty bowled over by your statement. Catholicism is no bastian of morality. In fact Priests in communities all over the world have shown how immoral,cruel,inhuman and unworthy they are of being part of a civilised society, let alone a spiritual portal, by abusing the vulnerable and those in their care.
    If catholicism didnt exist and someone said there would be a worldwide religion which (in the memory of those alive)is reknowned for its sexual abuse & physical abuse & has a spiritual leader who was once in the nazi youth and condemns the use of condoms (& if he had the authority would most probably ban them) on a continent ravaged by sexual disease , sexual violence / rape , you wouldn't believe someone who then says..." If the world followed Catholic moral teaching it would be a far better place."

  • Comment number 38.

    Mcc: If the world followed Catholic moral teaching it would be a far better place.

    Wrong. After 2000ish yrs of such teaching is the world a better place??

    It's not about following outer rules and regulations that are imposed from the outside. True change that is lasting and healing occurs when people change on the inside - when they reconnect with the love that they are and express that love in thought, word and deed. Then, no outer teaching would even be required because the wisdom of the heart would impulse the appropriate response at the time. Of course because we are so far removed from that we do need some guidance/teaching - but this should be in the form that empowers the individual to connect to their own inner wisdom and not some form of dictatorial rule/law.

  • Comment number 39.

    MCC,

    I think it's wrong for a couple to have sex when one of them is carrying a life threatening disease. It's an unnecessary risk.

    What you think other people should do is irrelevant, how they chose to manage risk in their relationship is their decision and barrier methods, despite what you say, do provide a significant level of protection if used correctly. There are also sexual practices which are safer and are made even safer when condoms and certain types of lube are used.

    And in the context of Africa the morality starts earlier with how the person got it in the first place. Virgins who marry virgins tend not to catch such diseases.

    Again pointless moralising, these are your morals not theirs or mine and in reality they are 'morals' that even most catholics worldwide ignore as they know they are irrelevant. People who use condoms tend not to catch such diseases either and really - who wants to be a virgin especially when your 'morality' means that between 6 and 10% of the population should be virgins all their life as your 'morals' are opposed to them marrying.

    The risk of catching the virus from someone over an extended period is significant with or without the use of condoms. The reduction in risk is not sufficient to justify it.

    You really do need to supply evidence for that as studies in the UK, Europe and US would dispute it. In fact what you have said is simply regurgitating the dangerous nonsense spouted by the catholic church to defend it's stance. It is at variance (significantly) with WHO and UNAIDS all of whom actually take a medical approach to efficacy of condoms not a theological one. Try here as a starting point and then WHO and UNAIDS for the facts.

    My experience of umbrellas is they nearly always break after a short time and in many instances you forget to bring it when you need it.

    Indeed, just like condoms, that is why education on correct use (which includes monitoring the integrity of the condom during use) and a mentality of don't leave home without one (or two). It becomes as automatic as clunk click and perfectly normal.

  • Comment number 40.

    Well said Eunice. Religion shouldnt be dictatorial it's better when it gently guides us to connect privately with our inner spirituality. I really dont think organised religion works because its too easily manipulated in the wrong hands. Pastor Skosana saying what he did, allows people to accept there is a place where they are loved & somewhere they can draw support and strength. Until the stigma and the shame is removed, even in communities where rates are so high, people won't be able to deal with it effectively

  • Comment number 41.

    Eunice, that is trite waffle. I asked you for a mechanism. Please explain how Stephen Hawking gets a motor neuron problem, and Mother Theresa didn't. How does it *work*???

    Don't worry too much; I know you don't know and you're just making this nonsense up as you go along.

  • Comment number 42.

    Fine Helio ! I have explained it simply (and yes not covered everything cos it is a vast subject) but as it is all 'trite waffle' to you there's not much point going any deeper - which would require me talking about energy and you don't agree with that so there's not much point going any further. I'm not making it up - trust me I couldn't have made this up! Also I don't need your agreement or stamp of approval nor do I need to prove to you what I am saying is true - it is up to people to feel for themselves whether it could be true or not and for you it is not - fine! I'm not going to force feed you - baby food or challenging meals! :-)

  • Comment number 43.

    Hi Eunice, no probs, because it is perfectly clear that this is incoherent nonsense. You phrase your "argument" in terms that are so waffly that they could mean absolutely anything; it is adhocopolos out there; completely unfalsifiable malleable junk. You have neither evidence nor logic working for it, and no predictions you can make to test whether you might be on to something, or completely off-beam. Whether baby food or challenging meals, I prefer something with a bit of nutritional value; your "The Secret" nonsense is just a gastric balloon.

    Now that is not meant to be hurtful to you - instead, what you need to do is reassess why you believe that fluff. I would certainly not doubt the fact that you DO believe it, and you're articulate enough to string words together to defend it semantically, but not logically. It is not even substantial enough to call sophistry; not even complex enough to be called deception. Perhaps the term "woo" is adequate, but I think you're like the Clarence Darrow character in "Inherit the Wind" (as a child), chasing your "Golden Dancer". Wait until you sit on it.

    I tell you this for your own good :-)

  • Comment number 44.

    I said nothing about imposing Catholic morality - I said world would be better. Catholic morality is about actions and intentions; it's about doing the right things with love. What's not to like? Pointing out that Fr X did this bad thing and Pope Y did this in no way negate the goodness of the morality they are failing to follow. The fact that there are murderers doesn't call into question the validity of the moral precept that one ought not to murder.

    As regards condoms, one doesn't measure the success based on one hundred percent perfect use - one looks at the average performance based on average usage. The failure rate in those terms is alarmingly high.

    And Dave, saying my views are irrelevant; we're in a discussion group, presenting views is what it is about. You mightn't like them, mightn't agree with them. That's fine.

    Natman - Catholic morality comes from the natural law, the teaching of the bible, in particular Jesus, tradition, the teaching authority of the Church and human reason. Saying Jesus didn't mention condoms is like saying he didn't mention sub-machine guns. He said whoever looks at a women lustfully has already committed adultery.

    Ryan - McCamley's Law on mentioning Pope Benedict and Hitler Youth would seem to apply.

    We've had the condom discussion before - for those who missed it, the Head of the Harvard Aids Prevention Centre says the Pope is basically correct in his position http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article5987155.ece

    Mr Green said: “We have found no consistent associations between condom use and lower HIV-infection rates, which, 25 years into the pandemic, we should be seeing if this intervention was working.”

  • Comment number 45.

    mccamleyc,

    Please inform me what this 'natural law' is, and where I might find it written down. It sounds mightly interesting and I'd be curious as to what its basis is.

    As for the quote by Mr Green, I'm assuming he had another worlds population, where there was no condom use whatsoever, a control, so to speak, that he could compare it with?

  • Comment number 46.

    mccamleyc,

    As regards condoms, one doesn't measure the success based on one hundred percent perfect use - one looks at the average performance based on average usage. The failure rate in those terms is alarmingly high

    Did you read the data in the link I provided which refutes your assertion. The relevant statement is

    "A recent review of 14 studies involving discordant (were one partner is infected and the other not) couples concluded that consistent use of condoms led to an 80% reduction in HIV incidence" These were couples in long term relationships. To many people that is a risk they can accept as the price for a lifelong loving sexual relationship, one of the core elements of a fulfilled life and a deeply held aspiration for many.

    So I would say that you do not look at the average performance based on the average usage (which is a mathematical proposition) you look at the evidential actual research.

    I did not say your views were irrelevant here, I was saying your views and morals are irrelevant to them, they should be free to make their own decisions without your bias.

    Catholic morality comes from.....

    and so what ? It has no more relevance to most than the morals outlined in Harry Potter. We have rules based on human reason - secular rules not influenced by one groups 'beliefs'.

    He said whoever looks at a women lustfully has already committed adultery

    well at least I can never be accused of that !!!

    As for Mr Green his research shows that if you reduce concurrent partners (which is a specific funneling effect in S and W AFrica) there are less opportunities for infection. That is a no brainer, it is his non researched conclusions such as increased supply of condoms increases the amount of unsafe sex and that there is no association between condom usage and reduction in HIV rates etc which the rest of the community find ludicrous (as the report states).

    The report also quotes a field expert, a Dr Epstein, who while agreeing with the mathematical concurrent partner/infection opportunity scenario still wished the vatican would change its stance on condoms. Mr Green is virtually alone with the Pope on his condom stance.

    The battle against HIV needs several weapons and while infection rates are so high behavioural changes need to be encouraged for safety not for moralistic reasons. This coupled with proper and consistent use of condoms is the best approach in the region. Nearly everyone except the heads of the catholic church, Mr Green and you seem to accept this.

    If it were not for the existence of HIV which is such a killer, there would be no need to even be encouraging people to change their normal cultural behaviour or if there was a cure which was viable for use in the region.

    None of this however will stop the spread by rape and abuse, you have more chance of getting a rapist to wear a condom to protect himself than stopping him raping.



  • Comment number 47.

    Helio: you are too kind! :-)
    For the third time - I do NOT agree with "The Secret" - all it does is reinforce one's separation from love otherwise known as evil.
    That you do not consider my views as logical is fine - that is your choice. To me - they are very logical and applying the understandings in my life gives me all the evidence I need re my own personal choices. For me, it is not about 'beliefs' - and whether my beliefs are 'better' than yours or anyone elses. It is about the life lived - the lived experience. I have transformed my life and my lived experience of life and that is ongoing - the understandings that I have assist in that process. If these were beliefs that had no tangible effect in day to day life - I'd say cheerio and that you are right. The evidence for me is in my life and I am not alone - many people have applied these understandings in their lives and have also benefited from them in many ways.

    For me there are scientific understandings that support my views (eg there is no absolute matter, all is energy) and these continue to develop eg the role of emotions in illness and disease manifestation, psychoneuroimmunology, epigenetics and more etc However, I do not have what you are looking for re robust research to affirm ALL that I am saying - but then again neither did Jesus! haha :-) In addition - I do not have all the mechanisms (yet) but I have enough to make a difference if one lives them. I predict however, that one day that will come - and science will affirm these understandings. Perhaps not in my lifetime - but it will come. It is a complete fallacy to think we/science know all or nearly all there is to know about the human person - and there is certainly more to it than being an advanced ape!!

    For example on a gross level - the biomedical model sees the patient as a victim of some condition, infection etc over which they had no control and it is the doctor's job to fix them. Whilst that is still what is practiced in many places the models have evolved to biopsychosocial - to say that needed to include patient psychosocial factors in disease manifestation. This has also evolved to biopsychosocialspiritual - to include the spiritual dimension and through to holistic model - that includes all dimensions of the human person and would endeavour to empower the patient and place increased responsibility with the patient and not render them a victim. In that model the doctor is not the fixer - may do things of course - but true healing is understood to come from within oneself and the condition has arisen in 'that' person and not some other person because of factors in 'that' person's life story - biography becomes biology. Life is not random. Illness and disease are not random and yes sometimes I can find that challenging too - but there is always a much bigger picture at play than the one little linear snapshot we tend to have.

    My understandings are based on a holistic model and would be at one end of that model - where all comes back to self. So as time goes on - the models are evolving towards this type of model - with responsibility for the condition and the healing in the hands of the person who has the condition. That does not mean they do not have medicine /surgery etc - of course they do - that it is a very important part of the whole journey in healing - its just not the whole story in my view.

    Helio: bottom line - medicine has not yet cracked all the answers re illness and disease otherwise why is cancer now 1 in 3, why is addiction, obesity, diabetes, mental ill health all increasing and more besides?? I am not dissing medicine - it is great - but there is room to expand the understanding of the human person and how illness and disease are manifested and how healing occurs. For me, a combination of medicine and the understandings that I have at the energetic/spiritual level work well together and perhaps just might help to reverse some of these trends if they were to be applied in people's lives with practical tangible steps and understandings.

    So I appreciate your concern but there really is no need to worry about me Helio: I'm a big girl now and can take responsibility for my choices! :-)

  • Comment number 48.

    mccamleyc,
    Just because one guy from Harvard looks at the data and comes to conclusion X , doesn't answer anything. A condom is a practical safeguard.Education and consistency in its use is key. Im really not a fan of this type of high school style debating.It's basic and doesn't solve anything.
    Pastor Skosana offered a practical approach to a situation no other church was willing to dealing with head on. In my experience that inclusive non-judgmental , supportive approach is more effective than telling people they're damaged and beyond any remedy.
    The views of the Pope might be right if the world was some theoretical Utopia, but unfortunately its not- its often random and cruel and chaotic and always has been, and perhaps always will be unless we can all stop argueing and stimagtising those who carry different burdens

  • Comment number 49.

    I think we should just stop trying to impose our Western morality on the developing world and let them live their own lives.

    There's plenty of things we can do with the billions from our overseas development budgets in our own countries.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    mccamleyc,

    You can help oversees without imposing your morality, it's called altruism.

    Altruism is supposed to be a core virtue of christianity.

    There are plenty of things the churches could do with the billions of stored up wealth which would change peoples lives but would not require them to change their beliefs, culture or society. That would be true christian altruism.

    Help without expecting reward either here or in heaven you never know it might be a better form of evangelising rather than carrot and stick.

  • Comment number 52.

    Wonder what Natman said.

    Okay, let's agree, we won't impose our morality, you don't impose your condoms. That's fair, isn't it.

    You are aware that the Catholic Church is the single greatest provider of medical care for Aids victims in the world - and it does so without imposing anything. You might have to put up with a crucifix on the wall though.

  • Comment number 53.

    "You are aware that the Catholic Church is the single greatest provider of medical care for Aids victims in the world."

    Would that be the looney, leftist, secularist, pick 'n mix, modernist, gay-loving Catholics that you want kicked out of the Church, MCC?

    Or have you and the rest of Benedict's adoring throng been sneakily helping out Aids victims all along and not telling the rest of us about it?

  • Comment number 54.

    Nobody imposes condoms, people can chose to use them all that is being asked is that they have that choice without an environment of moralistic opposition and manipulation of information.

    I am aware that there would be fewer people in the world who need medical care (and burial) for HIV and AIDS if the catholic church did not oppose the use of condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV and other STIs. That is not just my opinion but that of the medical experts who work in the field, the WHO and UNAIDS. Taking pride in mopping up the mess that you have helped to create is beyond the pale.

    You really are scraping the barrel here in trying to defend your position.

    Why is it that the only people who believe that the use of condoms does not have an impact on HIV transmission are the same people who believe that the use of condoms is wrong for any purpose whatsoever because of their beliefs?

  • Comment number 55.

    Seems that my reference to the historical practices of once considered 'uncivilised' people broke the house rules.

    Ah well.

    The point remains - In the past, a lot of native peoples practiced some very unsavoury things that, in their culture, were deemed acceptable. If it wasn't for the 'interference' of more enlightened civilisations, then the suffering of those people subjected to those traditional practices would still be going on. In fact, it still is with regards witch burnings, female circumcision and other barbaric acts of torture.

  • Comment number 56.

    Good grief, I am in agreement with Natman.

    Dave - how come you present the Church's position as an imposition, but everybody else's position as joyous, free, enlightened. When the UN and IPP swing into town with their condom wagon you think it's not an imposition on a culture which doesn't use them?

    Let me be clear on something - the Church has no view on how exactly people commit adultery, have sex with prostitutes or fornicate before marriage. Do those sinful behaviours become worse by using a condom? Hardly - it's like asking the Church whether it's worse to rob a bank with a knife or gun. Your position seems to be to tell people it's fine to continue your dodgy practices, use a condom and you'll reduce your risk of catching something by a certain percentage - the protection being significant with perfect use in each case, but much less so with normal usage, even normal usage as practised in the west with lots of education and freely available condoms. My position is tell people not to have sinful sex.

    Now why is my position an imposition but yours isn't.

    Jellybean - thought you'd gone away. Still taking the Tablets?

  • Comment number 57.



    Now why is my position an imposition but yours isn't

    Simple, my position is to tell people how they can reduce the chances of them becoming HIV+ without making any moralistic judgements about them or their culture and to make that safety device available to them where they need it. A condom is not a cultural thing it is simply a device, it is only the catholic church which has fostered an opposition to them.

    Your position is to tell them their ways are sinful and they will go to hell if they don't stop having sex except in the ways you allow. Oh and btw if you are married and HIV+ you cannot use a condom to protect your wife, so no sex there either.

    Part of the problem is that what you describe as dodgy practices for others are not dodgy.

    As for your bank robbing analogy, the churches position is like opposing the use of bullet proof glass because people shouldn't be robbing banks.

  • Comment number 58.

    Yeh, MCC, I'm in a different country now.

    I see you are still on a different planet though. lol.

  • Comment number 59.

    Dave - I think the analogy is more like telling a bank robber to wear a bullet proof vest in case a security man or police shoot him.

    Jellybean - what country are you in? Life treating you well? These other chancers haven't half the crazy ideas you used to have.

  • Comment number 60.

    I am surprised that this blog even began...what utter trash and violently offensive!!!

  • Comment number 61.

    Brian Thomas,

    You would need to be a bit more specific

  • Comment number 62.

    mccamleyc,
    Perhaps your analogy is better,

    A non judgemental way would be to ensure any person likely to get shot in that scenario knows how to protect themselves so maybe bullet proof glass for the teller and vests for the robber and the police/security guards.

    Doctors and medical people do not judge how moral a person is before they help them, they treat the person in most need with whatever is most suitable for the need.

    The problem here is that your church will not countenance the use of condoms for any purpose, including the prevention of HIV+ transmission, and will use any means to manipulate the argument rather than just say that. A more principled position might be:-

    We know that the the evidence shows that condom use has a role to play in the reduction of HIV transmission but we are opposed to it for religious reasons.

    Your current stance is like someone who does not believe in blood transfusions trying to persuade the rest of the world, by rubbishing their evidence or manipulating it, that it is ineffective in replacing blood after an accident.

    On a different side issue, if the religious objection to condom use is that it gets in the way of gods plan for procreation, I assume the catholic church would have no problem in their distribution to gay men as no procreation is being attempted and the condom is simply a barrier to the virus.

  • Comment number 63.

    Dave: I wish you luck with that one - as I read MCC comments I think he is saying all gay sex is sinful with or without a condom.
    When love is present - no harm done and with as many condoms as you fancy!

  • Comment number 64.

    Here's something I cannot understand - the suggestion that everyone ignores the Church's teaching on sex outside marriage but that there are hordes of the same people who are influenced by the Church's teaching on condoms. That makes no sense. If people in Africa are having sex with prostitutes without condoms I doubt very much the Church has any influence in their lives.

    Eunice - of course love is present when you are encouraging someone not have gay sex.

  • Comment number 65.

    Mcc,

    You keep going on about sex outside marriage and I keep asking you about sex within marriage. If a man (or woman) is HIV+ you tell them it is immoral to use a condom to protect the partner when proper use of a condom would allow them to have a sexually fulfilling life together.

    Or if a woman cannot be certain of her husbands status she should not insist on the use of a condom because the church says it is wrong. In neither of these scenarios is the sex immoral (as I understand it) so the condom will protect against HIV transmission. It will, I accept, also act as contraception to prevent conception of a child that will almost certainly acquire HIV+ status and die in infancy. Is it immoral to ensure that mother does not get infected and that child does not die.

    Or is your answer to this no sex again and remember this affects over 30% of married couples in the worst affected regions.

    At some point the reality of the situation that abstinence for millions of people is not going to work and that the moral choice is to allow people to, freely and without moral judgement, protect themselves and others.

    Why don't we separate out the connection between condoms and procreation?

    What would your approach be if a vaccine was developed which offered the same level of protection as proper condom use but had no effect on reproduction. So same medical effect but no contraception. Would the catholic church support the use of this vaccine within or without marriage?

  • Comment number 66.

    Mccamley,
    When you say "If people in Africa are having sex with prostitutes without condoms I doubt very much the Church has any influence in their lives"
    I assume you mean a moral and religious code. If you're going to make such basic black & white statements, you can then say that the Catholic Church's (teachings) don't have any influence in the lives of Priests who sexually abuse & those in the church who cover it up.
    Alot of people live with double standards and mask their hypocrisy, usually by shouting the loudest.The Catholic church is morally bankrupt in the eyes of many.Thankfully Pastor Skosana isn't

  • Comment number 67.

    A few issues here. If a spouse has a serious disease which they know can easily be transmitted to their spouse by sexual intercourse they have a moral duty to consider their actions. I did a random google for success rates for condoms http://womenshealth.about.com/cs/birthcontrol/a/effectivenessbc.htm
    - the typical failure rate (in terms of pregnancy) is 15% over 12 months. Now that is high enough in terms of pregnancy, but think for a moment what that rate must represent over the course of a year in terms of transmission of fluids since clearly not every specific failure leads to pregnancy. Each transfer of fluids has a high risk of transferring the disease. Now you can dismiss the statistics, you can say that's why we need better education etc. But that figure of typical usage has been around for a long time. The rate is even higher depending on age and ethnicity.

    I think taking that sort of risk with your spouse is immoral.

    On the more general question of contraception, I support the teaching of the Church that every sexual act should be free, loving, open to life and committed.

    If there was a vaccine that offered 100%, or close to, protection that would be a different matter altogether. If it only offered the level of typical condom use, then no, I don't think so.

  • Comment number 68.

    Admit it mccamleyc, your opposition to the use of condoms is soley dictated by the dogma of the Catholic Church, and their opposition to it is, at the very best, vaguely ascribed to some warped bibical and theolgy based fuzzy logic.

    Don't you find it incredible that millions of people globally are suffering from STI's and burdened with over-population, simply on the say-so of the church?

    Is this not the ultimate expression of why organised religion is not a 'good thing'?

  • Comment number 69.

    Ryan - I agree with much of what you - clearly anyone, but particularly an ordained minister, who sexually abuses children is not following the teachings of the Church. The fact that they are also hypocrites is additionally sinful. But that hardly makes the Church's teaching untrue. The Church teaches that sexual abuse is seriously sinful. That would remain true even if every member was an abuser.

    The Catholic Church is a Church for sinners - that's why we have sacramental confession, because we know that people fail to live up to the life they ought to.

    Natman - your assumption that my views on condoms are "solely dictated by the dogma of the Catholic Church", of course contains a notion that "dogma" is something other than reasonable, that it's made up or relies entirely on the authority of the Church. That is not the case at all. Dogmas are things we hold to be true, such as your dogma that the world is over-populated and that STIs are caused by the Catholic Church, which is as non-sensical a dogma as L Ron Hubbard's. It is obvious to anyone with one eye and half a brain that the increase in STIs is down to promiscuity. Blaming the Church for that is like blaming the Jews for anti-semitism.

  • Comment number 70.

    MCC The Church teaches that sexual abuse is seriously sinful.

    So why do they make the abusing priest and the abused child take an oath of secrecy?

  • Comment number 71.

    I'm not blaming the Catholic church for STI's, I'm blaming the Catholic church for the -spread- of STI's, or at least, assigning some of the blame to the church. Stop creating strawmen.

    And you're absolutely right, dogma is anything other than reasonable. You've not (and neither has the church) given a reasonable reason for this vendetta against contraception.

    If you can provide a valid reason why you (that's you, and not the churches views that you slavishly follow) disagree with the use of condoms, I might review my opinion, but I can't see you doing that. Even if condoms are only 85% reliable, over a course of 12 months, that's better than the 0% for not using them, or the 0% of 'natural' contraception methods.

  • Comment number 72.

    MCC,

    You can quote rates at me all you like, I have provided the link to research which is relevant to (long term) couples with HIV using condoms properly which shows the rates of infection reduced by 80%. Providing links to the failure rates of condoms which are designed to provide protection from pregnancy is not the same as failure rates for condoms which are distributed to protect against HIV transmission. There are different strengths of condoms you know, gay men for instance would (or should) never use those developed for heterosexual contraception.

    Can you explain to me why you do not accept the mass of evidence from AIDS Alert, WHO and UNAIDS which is based on evidence researched in the field but do accept a few non relevant or debunked reports which match your theological position.

    Given that you cannot stop people having sex by moralising at them (born out by the Mr Green report you furnished) is an 80% reduction in infection rates a better outcome than no condoms.

    If so then by banning condoms you are contributing to the maintenance of a much higher infection rate than necessary.

  • Comment number 73.

    Natman - you said "millions of people globally are suffering from STI's and burdened with over-population, simply on the say-so of the church". How could I not interpret that as you blaming the Church - how could that become a straw man?

    Eunice - same reason big organisations always do these things - like when banks quietly get rid of insider thieves because they don't want people to know their internal security was breached - short term gain, long term stupidity.

    Contraception changes the nature of sex. It's not unlike bulimia.

    There's no such thing as natural contraception.

    Here's the basic option for someone with HIV - 1. have sex with no condoms and over time almost certainly spread the disease; 2. don't have sex and therefore don't spread the disease; 3. have sex using condoms and have a 20% chance of spreading the disease.

    Clearly I favour option 2 but for some bizarre reason you keep pretending that I favour option 1.

    The "mass of evidence"? What does it say? The condom is highly effective "when used correctly and consistently". Of course. But the WHO also says it is 80% effective. You translate that into a pandemic situation and you have a continuing pandemic. This is driven by the dogmatic belief that liberal sexual practices cannot be thwarted. If you were told that 20% of eggs were infected with salmonella would you say, "oh well, one in five, sure I'll only eat four of them, I'll be grand".

  • Comment number 74.

    mmcamleyc,

    What is your opposition to contraception based on?

    Despite all your rhetoric, contraceptions such as condoms reduce the transmission of STIs. Fact.

    Do you honestly, truely and sincerely believe that preventing the potential creation of life from the act of procreation is a sin?

    Is this based on a personal belief, generated by a personal interpretation of the bible and a weighing up of your moral conscience or is it based on doing what the Catholic church tells you?

    Arguing over the perceived risks and/or benefits of various contraception methods is distracting from the main issue of why the heck the Catholic Church disapproves of these in the first place and why Catholic adherants listen to it.

    You're also confusing your statistical interpretations. A 1 in 5 chance (20%) doesn't mean that 1 time out of every 5 you will get infected, it's a 1 in 5 every time.

  • Comment number 75.

    MCC,

    1. have sex with no condoms and over time almost certainly spread the disease;
    2. don't have sex and therefore don't spread the disease;
    3. have sex using condoms and have a 20% chance of spreading the disease.


    You may not favour option 1. but it is what you are implementing because option 2 is unrealistic and is not happening therefore option 3 is the option everyone else takes. People have to take reality as well as wishes into account. You have your head in the sand.




  • Comment number 76.


    Not that I am worried about an anachronism but it could be avoided by saying that Jesus is HIV+. It is impossible to read the words of Our Lord in Matthew 25 and think other than that, when one looks into the face of someone who is HIV+ or someone who is suffering from AIDS, one is looking at and is challenged by the face of Christ.

  • Comment number 77.

    Parrhasios: see back on course - I agree 'one is looking at the face of Christ' :-)

  • Comment number 78.

    Parrhasios,

    I fear that christ has very little to do with MCC's argument, my understanding of christ would be he would have handed out the condoms to save lives and worried about the souls later.

  • Comment number 79.

    Natman,

    An adittional question to:

    Do you honestly, truely and sincerely believe that preventing the potential creation of life from the act of procreation is a sin?

    might be

    Do you believe that medicines are man interfering to prevent the natural death of a person as ordained by god and should be banned.

  • Comment number 80.



    Dave - the more I read the Bible, and I do so very regularly, the less sure I am of what Jesus would do in any particular situation. I am less sure of the answers but more sure of the challenge: a challenge that encompasses looking beyond presentation to need. It's a challenge to involvement and interaction rather than moral formulation or theological dogma. 

    It is very easy for a Christian to present his or her imagined Christ-action as a prescriptive and exclusive paradigm. I have little regard for any thought process which depersonalises a situation of need; from there it is but a short step to the substitution of duty for love and the loss of connection. Christ appears to have valued connecting with people as individuals, so do I. It is perhaps the gravest sin of the institutional church that it has lost sight of what the real needs of the people it is charged with serving actually are.

    I have no concerns personally about the use of condoms. I have the gravest concerns about the profiteering of drugs companies, the wholesale corruption of politicians and government agents in many African countries, the effects of patriarchy and the subjugation of women - all of which contribute greatly to the spread of HIV on the continent.

    Eunice - hang on tight, I have a feeling I can promise you a roller-coaster! :-)

      

  • Comment number 81.

    Jesus came to call sinners to repentance. When you read the gospel, even as you see Jesus associating with public sinners, there is no trace of his pandering to them - tax collectors are told to give the money back, the woman taken in adultery is told not to sin any more, the woman at the well called out about the fact the man she lived with was not her husband.

    Jesus mixed with two types of sinners - the obvious public ones and the scribes/pharisees. He called them both to repentence. But he realised the first lot were closer to repentence because they at least knew they were sinners.

    He also spoke more about hell than he did about heaven, and his love and compassion was directed at keeping people out of hell. Hence his hard words to people. Jesus giving out condoms? I don't think so. He'd be there calling IPP and WHO a brood of vipers.

  • Comment number 82.

    MCC,

    The IPP and WHO a brood of vipers

    Is that official catholic doctrine, backed by scripture, or simply more personal hatred and prejudice ?

  • Comment number 83.

    Parrhasios: watch out - all that up and down might make me sick!! :-) A gentle leisurely stroll would do!!

  • Comment number 84.

    Even on the extremely rare occasion that you refer to the Gospels, you cant even manage to get that right, MCC. You errect the evangelist's tiny addendum "go and sin no more" into the main thrust of the passage which it clearly is not!

    That passage is about Jesus exposing the heartlessness of the hypocritical Pharisees who would stone this poor woman to death. He is condemning their judgemental attitude - not the woman. Ring any bells? Nope, didnt think so.

    One of the recurring themes of all of the Gospels is the inability of God to penetrate the arrogance of these religious zealots. They know it all and, in their self righteousness, will listen to no one. They pick on easy targets while patting themselves on the back at how good and holy they themselves are. Ring any more bells? Nope, didnt think so.

  • Comment number 85.

    RJB One of the recurring themes of all of the Gospels is the inability of God to penetrate the arrogance of these religious zealots. They know it all and, in their self righteousness, will listen to no one. They pick on easy targets while patting themselves on the back at how good and holy they themselves are. Ring any more bells? Nope, didnt think so.

    Love this - so true

    Arrogance is a huge problem along with a good dose of ignorance. BTW that's not to say yours truly is immune from either - that would be arrogant!! :-)

  • Comment number 86.

    Just occasionally, maybe even just once, Jellybean, you might, you know, actually read what I wrote. Did you not understand who I was talking about in the two sets of sinners - the ones who know they are sinners and the ones who don't.

    The "go and sin no more" is hugely important in the story - it's about forgiveness and repentence, not retribution. But without the line it becomes what you've tried to make it - Jesus loves sinners and wants them to stay just as they are. So long as it's the right sort of sin of course. Adultery is fine but hypocisy is a sin too far for the love of God to reach? Well my God is bigger than that. And my Jesus loved the pharisees as well. That's why he picked one to evangelise the world.

  • Comment number 87.

    MCC

    How often does Jesus mention adultery in the gospels?

    How often does he point out hypocrisy? On nearly every page!!

    It suits YOUR morality to have Jesus make sexual sin a major issue when he clearly doesnt. Leave gay people alone and focus on your self-righteous attitude to others.

    I am presently working with the Mother Theresa sisters who are ministering to the local homeless, drug adicts, alcoholics etc.. You will find not a word of judgement on these people from these women. They help them, feed them, clothe them, love them. No sermons, no moralising. End of.

  • Comment number 88.

    I presume you mean "at present"; "presently" means in the near future.

  • Comment number 89.

    RJB,

    I think Mcc HAS to make sexual sin a major issue precisely because the new testament does not. By making such a fuss about 'sins' he does not commit he can deflect from the ones he does like pride, self-righteousness, hypocrisy, judgementalism, deception and rudeness all of which were much more written about.

    I wonder, on an academic level, which truly is the greater 'sin', mine for following my natural orientation and my heart (as god supposedly made me) or the churches (and influential individuals within it) for using lies, hyperbole, judgementalism and rabble rising to try and create pariahs out of others while they carry on with all the obscene trappings of their bloated coffers while people are abused and die in their care.

  • Comment number 90.

    Lol Utterly impenetrable.

  • Comment number 91.

    I think Mccamely, you must concede a little. Romejellybean really does show a level-headed, balanced approach and a template, if you were able to let go of your own pain, which is healthier to follow.
    The reason why sex and sexuality is obsessed over so much by some people is painfully obvious. Sex and sexuality are painful subjects for those who find their own desires and feelings on the matter distressing. This is why many homophobes are latent homosexuals. They fight inside and struggle to do the best they can to live up to the ideal they set for themselves, which doesn't include that part of them, and then rail against it whenever they see it in society.

  • Comment number 92.

    Ryan - are you trying to chat me up?

  • Comment number 93.

    lol

 

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