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Some time ago, an article in the Bakersfield Californian Newspaper focused on National Coming Out Day with the articles emphasis being “Should a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender person come out to you, please be kind.” I couldn’t agree more. Instead of mocking or condemning, we, The Church, should apologize for any wrongs we might have committed out of ignorance. Ultimately, we should take responsibility for any and all harsh words or hurtful actions.

It remains a fact that for far too long homosexual men and women were despised simply because they experienced homosexual feelings and attractions. Now, in the name of diversity and tolerance, many are endorsing homosexual behavior, thinking they are helping to right the wrongs of centuries of unjust persecution. The healthiest position is to love all people with same-gender attraction, while at the same time sharing undeniable facts and truth with regard to homosexual practice.

As a Christian, I believe in the sanctity of life. All life is sacred and deserves to be celebrated. As a result, I remain both alarmed and grieved over the many discrepancies and illusions that continue to be offered and promoted regarding “gay.” As a Pastor, and more importantly, as a Christian, I am willing to set aside the Bible for just a moment and consider homosexual practice from a very real and practical standpoint.

“For Many Gay Men, We Must Come Out Twice,” an article offered in the October 11, 2012 issue of The Advocate, which proclaims to be “the world’s leading gay news source,” a chilling realization and depiction of homosexual practice is offered in detail. The article states:

“While today is a day to celebrate who we are, we must also acknowledge the hard reality facing gay men in this nation, especially young gay men. Evidence suggests that those who come out and live openly as gay men are more likely to become HIV-positive. Young gay and bisexual men are the only group in which HIV infections are increasing, with young black gay men seeing an alarming 48% spike in new infections between 2006 and 2009. As we celebrate National Coming Out Day, our community must once again come together and support young gay and bisexual men and help them grow into adulthood HIV-free.”

In the December 6, 2012 edition of The Advocate, another article titled Why Are HIV Rates So High Amongst Young Gay Men? focused on a critically important and shocking truth that we are in a second HIV epidemic among U.S. Gay men “that no one is talking about.”

AIDS was first described in June of 1981 as “an unusual disease that was causing primarily young homosexual men to lose their ability to fight off otherwise common and non-harmful diseases.” GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency), as it was first called, soon took the name of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS. It was shown to affect anyone who was either sexually or through intravenous means was infected by some agent which caused the immune system to be compromised over time. How well I remember this horrific tragedy unfold as some of my closest friends were the first to pass away from AIDS while living in San Francisco in 1981.

Speaking for myself, I would say this. When I meet people with HIV/AIDS, it doesn’t matter to me how they got it. All that matters is that they are human beings whom God loves so much and asks us to love too. Admittedly, some of my more theological friends may question this. I don’t mind. HIV/AIDS clearly forces all of us to make hard choices, choices that reveal clearly what kind of people we are choosing to be. Tragically, there are those that call for callous unconcern by deserting and even persecuting the person with HIV/AIDS. However, my continued hope and prayer is that we all would resolve to follow Christ Jesus, who willingly took risks, crossed barriers, touched lepers, met freely with the despised, took the blame, even bore the stigma.

Ultimately, we must talk about HIV/AIDS. Why? Because this about people and not just an issue. In the name of decency, true compassion, humanity and the sanctity of life (all life), the truth cannot and must not be ignored or suppressed with what continues to unfold regarding HIV/AIDS. People’s lives are not made better – physically, psychologically, spiritually or socially – as a result of ignoring or unwillingness to talk about a real, true crisis of our time.

For their support throughout my own personal journey with HIV/AIDS, I thank God for my family, especially my mother and brother, my church, the many wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ, that have stood by and supported me, not always knowing what to say or do, but you were there.

HIV/AIDS is a disease that impacts real people and their loved ones who must learn to face this together, because no one can face it alone. People facing HIV/AIDS do better when they know what to expect on the journey. They do best when they don’t have to find their way alone. The journey begins with “talking about it.”

Not entirely, but all most, the Church has mostly avoided the crisis of HIV/AIDS. The Church cannot, the Church must not underestimate itself since it holds the only answer there is to the growing crisis of HIV/AIDS. Experts agree that the answer to halting the AIDS growing epidemic globally is not treatment, but prevention. They also agree that the best hope for prevention lies in changing human behavior. Never has the need and the opportunity been greater for the Christian community to take the lead in responding to this crisis with conviction and compassion.

We as Christians have to be concerned – no, committed – under the imperatives of the Bible to minister to those people (all people) suffering the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS. Ultimately, your willingness and participation can make a difference in the lives and the eternal destinies of millions. Jesus Christ preached the Gospel and showed compassion to the suffering.

We, the Church, must respond by following His example.

Pastor Phillip Lee
Executive Director
His Way Out Ministries

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