Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is rapidly becoming the number one public health problem in the world. In this decade, tens of thousands of Americans have contracted AIDS and more than a million Americans are carriers of the AIDS virus. For those who have contracted AIDS, currently there is no known medical cure, and thus the disease is fatal. The evidence is not clear concerning the long-term results for those who are carriers of the AIDS virus. The Surgeon General of the United States has called AIDS “the most serious matter any health official of any nation has ever faced.”
Although there is the urgent need for education regarding AIDS, education without reference to values ignores the moral dimensions of the problem. Therefore, government or private sector programs that deny the moral element of the problem are inadequate remedies. While there are innocent sufferers of the disease, the fact remains that two primary groups of individuals with AIDS are practicing homosexual men and drug addicts who share needles. The nexus between immoral behavior and the spread of the AIDS virus is self-evident.
Furthermore, AIDS is first and foremost a public health concern, not a civil rights issue. Hence, any proposed legislation that would confer special “civil rights” on persons afflicted with AIDS, but threatens the health of others, is totally unacceptable. We believe appropriate legislation regarding AIDS would require testing of high risk groups, reporting of those with the disease to local health officials on the same basis as other sexually-transmitted diseases, and closing of bathhouses and other facilities that permit promiscuous sexual activity.
But legislation and the best efforts of public health officials have their limits. Our Christian faith offers hope for the victims of AIDS. This faith offers also a realistic way of life that will curb the spread of this tragic disease in that our faith calls for chastity before marriage and fidelity in marriage. For this reason, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) calls upon the Christian Church to proclaim the hope that God has provided in Jesus Christ and to promote the practice of biblical sexual morality. We encourage pastors to request couples coming to them for marriage to consider having AIDS tests and to share the results with each other before marriage. We further urge that, with Christian compassion, we offer the hope of Christ’s redemption and grace to victims of AIDS.
Local churches should take initiative and leadership in ministering to AIDS patients and those infected with the virus. We cannot permit fear or apathy to keep us from bringing the life-changing resources of our Christian faith to those who suffer from the dreaded AIDS disease.