Thursday, April 23, 2009

Should The Church Perform A Wedding If One Of the Partners is HIV Positive?

It is usually sad to see those whose wedding was cancelled by the church authorities because one of the partners was or is HIV positive. Nowadays it is even exaggerating when church pastors think that counseling starts and ends with medical tests results. Thanks anyway to those tests, couples were either able to opt out of the relationship or stay and wed elsewhere. But at least they knew what they were getting into. This requirement of taking the medical tests is really not a bad one since it was through it that a lady discovered that her to-be husband did not tell her that he was impotent. In another case, the man found out that the woman (in her twenties) had removed her uterus, making it impossible for her to conceive and bare a baby from her own womb. That has raised many questions on whether it is biblical or not. Does that go with the ethos of Christianity? I will establish the validity and expose its limitations by wearing the looking glass of the Bible.

The church and especially the pastor are obliged by God to establish the Shepherd-Sheep relationship. A herd of sheep with no shepherd always gets scattered. A good shepherd drives danger from the shepherd (Ps 80:1). A good shepherd feeds and nurtures his flock (Is 40:11). In speaking to the Hebrews, the author reminds them that pastors will give account for the way they led their flock (Heb 13:17). How would they give account if they cannot direct your ways? God tells Ezekiel that if he sends him to give a warning to anyone and he does not do it, he will hold him responsible if the danger kills that person (Ezek 3:17-21). That is the same posture the church and leaders should take. Therefore, the church authorities are right to request such tests. However let us consider another dimension though.

The Apostle Peter tells the church and Christians to submit themselves to the ordinance of man for God’s sake (I Pet 2:13-14). That is the law of the land. In a country with the rule of law, though people are Christians they still have their constitutional rights. Every human being is free to marry who he or she wants in whatever condition. There is no law that prohibits the church from wedding HIV positive people. Therefore the church now must look into the scripture to reconcile this impasse or dilemma. In looking at the Ezekiel Scenario, it does not suggest imposing anything. It talks of warning. Then Jesus even makes it clearer when He advises the disciples to dust off their feet and go away if people reject their counsel (Mt 10:14).

Consequently, the Bible is saying that if you forewarn anyone about imminent danger, and they refuse to hearken, you shoul leave them alone. If a shepherd tries to keep his sheep from wandering, but it stubbornly wanders into a pack of wolves and is slaughtered, the sheep bears the brunt of its stubbornness because the shepherd had done all in his power that it could. You have done your part and the burden of their calamity rests solely on them and not the church or the pastor.

Thus, if the church has advised a couple about imminent danger, it should allow them to make the final decision. If the church tries to impose its will on its members, it may convert the church into some cult and voodoo group especially in situations that are not inherently sinful.

Whatever decision they make, the church must respectfully succumb to it. If you tell a couple that one of them is HIV positive, they should make the choice. If they decide to marry, then the church should gladly wed them. No one knows on what they are counting. Perhaps God could have been speaking to them like he did in the days of Hosea. How many people will feel comfortable if I introduce my girlfriend and said: I picked her up from a brothel? But God asked Hosea to marry a prostitute even though he knew the woman will prostitute herself again. God at times speaks strange things to people. God is supreme and Jesus is still miraculous as he was 2000 years ago. The partner with HIV could get healed too who knows. As a result, if one of them has that faith, they should be given the chance to exercise it.

Nonetheless, if the faith is presumptuous, the responsibility lies solely with the couple and not the church. However, since the church is there to exhort and encouraged, they should encourage them as any other person going through trials and temptations.

Until then, the Church’s authority does not override an individual’s basic rights.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

“No matter how a rat becomes the house pet, if it is sleeping beside the bag of groundnuts the owner may not have much sleep. ” (Hamilton Ayuk)."If a goat runs from the owner’s leash it will be tied by the council in a market square" Hamilton Ayuk).

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