The title of our article reflects a growing challenge of skeptics to the biblical concept of God. "Death Stalks a Continent" was the title of a story in Time, February 12, 2001, which has been sent to us by numerous skeptics who maintain that the whole AIDS problem is inconsistent with belief in an intelligent, caring, planning God.
There is no question that the AIDS problem in Africa is horrendous. People are dying in massive numbers--17 million since the epidemic started in the 1970s. Twelve million children have been orphaned by AIDS, and many children are born HIV positive. The suffering is enormous and innocent people are victimized by the disease. The question is not whether it is horrible or whether we should help. Massive aid has been coming in since the problem started, a vast part of it from Christian missionaries. The question is whether the problem is caused by God and whether the existence of the problem is inconsistent with the Bible's description of what God is like and how He functions. Like the Holocaust of the Jews in Europe, many writers are saying that the existence of the epidemic is inconsistent with the existence of God. In this article, we would like to respond to this charge.
AIDS is a Lifestyle
There is no debate about this statement. People argue about details, but AIDS entered the human population from monkeys. Scientists differ in their view of which monkey and how, but the AIDS virus does not affect monkeys as it does humans and thus is available wherever monkeys and humans interact. It is possible that using monkeys for food is the contact point, but since meat is cooked, it is unlikely. Sexual contact between humans and monkeys is widely practiced in Africa and is very likely to be the source. The spread in the homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual communities is totally due to promiscuous activity with multiple partners.
The Time article does a marvelous job of showing how widespread destructive sexual practices are in Africa:
Casual sex of every kind is commonplace here. Prostitutes are just the
ones who admit they do it for cash. Everywhere there's premarital sex, sex
as recreation. Obligatory sex and its abusive counterpart, coercing sex.
Transactional sex: sex as a gift, sugar-daddy sex, extramarital sex, second
families, multiple partners. The nature of AIDS is to feast on promiscuity
God Has Given an
AIDS- Free Lifestyle
As a Command to Man
Much as skeptics may resent God's instructions to man on how to live, they have to admit that, if God's plan were followed, AIDS would not exist in humans. All of the sexual practices which spread AIDS are condemned in the Bible. The rankest atheist has to admit that following the one man-one wife non-extramarital affair lifestyle would stop AIDS dead in its tracks. If someone got AIDS by food or handling a bleeding animal, it would not spread through the population if God's plan were followed.
The Real Apologetic is God's Justice
What is God to do when man reaps the consequences of disobeying God. Galatians 6:7 says "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." For the most part, that is a given. If you build your house in the mouth of a volcano, you cannot reasonably complain when it erupts. The notion that participants in a sin should reap the consequences of what they sow is not the point of contention with most people. The bigger question is what about innocent parties in such a situation. Why should innocent children suffer because of their parents' bad choices? Why does God, if He is really a God of love and mercy and kindness, not remove the innocent from the consequences of the acts of the sinful? This is not a new question peculiar to the AIDS-in-Africa problem. All war is adult-produced and yet massive innocent suffering occurs. On a more minor scale, when an adult drives a car while drunk or disobeys a law, a child may be victimized. Even divorce causes untold pain for innocent children.
Suggestions that, in order for God to be loving and merciful, He should miraculously snatch the innocents from the results of the wrongdoing of others, is in essence insisting that reality should not exist for human beings. If every act is totally without consequences for everyone and everything, then we cease to be able to experience love. The only way love can exist is because it is a choice. Sexual love without choice is called rape, and nobody would suggest it is love--but rather the malicious exploitation of another human being. This is true of all kinds of love. Morality can only exist because there is a choice to be made on each act we do. For God to step in and prevent natural consequences to choices would be to totally dehumanize man.
In reality, death is the answer to this dilemma. The children who die are freed from the pain and misery of this world and the bad choices people make. To the atheists, this is an unacceptable answer because death is the ultimate tragedy for them. In the Christian perspective, however, death is freedom and the beginning of a better existence. The biggest tragedy in this world-view is that lives are ended before their full positive potential is realized. A huge percentage of the help that is being given in Africa is coming from followers of Christ who are running clinics, hospitals, and AIDS wards, bringing in medicines and critical supplies to relieve the suffering.
AIDS is a lifestyle disease. As the Christian community reaches out to help and to relieve the pain and suffering, its message of morality and conformity to the positive plan for living that God has given will also be passed on to the people. When people reject promiscuity, prostitution, and the other practices that are causing the epidemic, there will be a rebirth of good things for the land and its people. Let us support and encourage the Christian outreach so it will happen soon.
Back to Contents Does God Exist?, NovDec01.