HIV-AIDS To Have or Not TO Have, it is not a Question.
A Question is What the Church Should Do for the New
Phenomena in This World ?
It is a good progress that we are in Asia generally and Indonesia (more specific North Sumatra) in particular, agree to talk and find solutions in dealing with HIV-AIDS.HIV-AIDS is not a new phenomenon. In Indonesia, Mass Media has been perceiving and participating in socializing about it since the eighty. [i] It is a pity, religious institution, in this case, the church, as always, is late for responding to the society’ situation. Thus, it is not surprising that church still plays no role to determine the society’s direction.[ii].
Why church be as a latecomer for this issue? There are two important causes:
The fragmentarical way of thinking. There is an understanding that HIV-AIDS is not my problem because it is not in my back yard. It is something some where out there. Thus, I do not need to care about it. Who can deny that act of damaging the protected forest Lauser in North Sumatra will give an impact for the people who live in other continents in the world? We are living in one world that everything in it is interrelated.[iii] So that our passive attitude toward the destructive behaviour that disturb the wholeness of creation (HIV-AIDS is one of that) is not a right attitude that supposed to be shown by humans to whom God gave a mandate to be a care taker of the world,[iv] and by the church as a gathering of the people called by God.[v]
Claiming that HIV-AIDS is God’s punishment for people who misuse their sex. We say: “They deserve it.”[vi] Has Job not [vii] already acted against the retribution way of thinking that was proposed by the Deuteronomist[viii] since four century before Christ? Is it not the case when definitions are given to God, God is not God anymore? [ix]
I agree with an understanding that there is a purpose in every occasion. Whether the occasion is understood as the happy one, or a sad one, or a tragedy or even as a miracle one, it is a result of our interpretation. We always have different understanding from God for we don’t abide in God anymore.[x] Whereas actually the purpose of creating the status of humans in God’s image is to solve this matter.[xi] Is it not the case that the existence of all chaotic phenomena every where now, because of our will be done and not God’s?[xii]
I don’t think we need to waste time for debating theologically about whether HIV-AIDS is God’s punishment or not. Theology that is found in the Bible is always contextual. It has an impact on its situation and is created based on the writer’s eschatological expectation.[xiii] Thus, doing theology is never end. Consequently, church has to perceive and be creative in dealing with the spirit of every ages. I also think that it is no need to have divisions in the church because of the differentiation of ideas on some issues.[xiv] The most important thing that we need to be aware of is that this pandemic is a wake up call[xv] for all of us, more over, it is a noisy wake up call for church that is failed of preventing its people and the world from getting it. This wake-up call determines that people must change their understanding of and attitude toward sex. And this is the case.
Social Sciences are very progressive in the State, particularly psychology and its connection with Pastoral counseling. Americans way dominates the world’s way of thinking and life in dealing with humanity’s problems. Humans are allowed to express freely and fully about themselves, their thought and need. The impact of this kind of expression in the society is not so much considered. Thus, there is a tension between individual’s right and community’s. Let alone if the Law and all professions that suppose to apply the law can not be functioned properly, there will be a total confusion in the society. It is going into horrible situation if the religious institution, such as church has no courage to take a stand in stipulating its rules and ethics.[xvi]
There is a tendency that the liberal voice dominates in the ecumenical institutions, while that voice is not popular in the local congregation.[xvii] Sometimes there is no distinction between the voice of the ecumenical institutions and NGO’s. Also there is the juxtaposition between the United Nation’s program and the ecumenical institutions’. While we know that NGO and United Nations financially really depend on the multi-corporations and the G7. I do not know whether the ecumenical institutions/ and or church want to deal with the trend issues just for being in the politically correct attitude. However I do not think that church need to adapt itself in the modern world, new social and political tendencies.[xviii]
Is it not the case that when we talk about HIV-AIDS, we talk about sex, its meaning and function? Is it not the case when we talk about sex’s meaning and functions, we also need to talk about marriage and having sex before and after marriage? Is it not the case that when we talk about having sex before and while marriage, we also need to talk about Abortion, Single Parent and Divorce? Also is it the case that when we talk about sex, its meaning and function we need to talk about homosexual?
So, are we ready to redefine the new concept of family, sex, marriage, divorce, etc? What is the function of the Bible to accomplish this task? Can hermeneutical approach help us in doing so, or must the authority of the Bible be questioned? However we believe in Sola Gracia, Sola Fidei and Sola Scriptura. Whatever is the answer, we need to do something.
Sexuality need to be reversed to its original form and function as a bless from the Creator in order to continue the generation.[xix] We are given a right to enjoy God’s blessing.[xx] However sexuality and all God’s blessing are still blessing as long as they are put in the God’s order.
Talking about sex is talking about relationship. Talking about relationship is talking about covenant (berith). It contains a deep understanding. Though there are some arguments among the Old Testament scholars on the substance of Old Testament Theology, however Eichdrot has stated that the foundation of the Old Testament theology is a covenant idea. A covenant that binds relationship between Israel and YHWH; between us and God[xxi]; between husband and wife.[xxii] Yahweh is the one who initiates the covenant, thus Yahweh also is the one who determines the rules in the relationship. “You shall be holy for I am holy” (Lev 11:45).[xxiii] Faithfulness and steadfast love[xxiv] are the foundation of perpetuating the covenant.
Therefore, of course the HIV-AIDS infected peoples must be consoled, helped and given guidance by the church.[xxv] However does the church prevent its people, whom are created in the image of God, whom are supposed to live as a new born people by Christ (imitation Christ), from getting it?[xxvi] Do we need to propose the new ethics by revising some of dogmatic statements, such as about sex, marriage, divorce, etc? Do we agree that what is happening now and what we want to decide after this meeting supposed to be in a form of anticipation of the coming of God’s reign?[xxvii] Do not we think that it is a time to see our theology as a whole? I mean what we teach in catechism parallel with church’s teaching, and also accord with the practice of the church in every segment such as pastoral counseling. I think we are facing a lot of home work now.
[i] See the article’s collection that is put in a book by Kompas, Irwan Julianto, Jika Ia Anak Kita. Aids dan Jurnalisme Empati.Jakarta: Kompas and the Rockefeller Foundation, 2002, xi.
[ii] Jurgen Moltmann writes: “Many people who are working for liberation in one way or another no longer expect anything from the church. Many others, who are living in the church, have become so blind that they no longer see that the need to free the oppressed has a Christian justification. They do not see because they do not want to see. Unless the churches are rescued from their imprisonment in the ruling classes, races and nations, there will hardly ever be a rescuing church. Jurgen Moltmann, The Future Of Creation, Trans, by: Margaret Kohl, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979, 105-6.
[iii] This understanding clearly put by Priestly writer in Genesis 1:1-2:4a. However it can be seen in Gen 2:4b-15 as well.
[iv] See Gen 1:26, 28; cf. Gen 2:5, 15; Psalm 8:6-9.
[v] I understand the church as a gathering of the people called, though there is no agreement among scholars whether the term ekklesia come from the idea of ‘to call out’ as seen in the word combination ek-kaleo. Ekklesia is a secular word in Greek and usually means a gathering or assembly. But the first Christians, who were Greek speaking, designated themselves as ekklesia/or ekklesia tou theou based on their understanding of qahal Yahweh in the OT. See: Robert Nelson, The Realm of Redemption. Studies in the Doctrine of the Nature of the Church in Contemporary Protestant Theology, 5-9. See also Richardson in quoting K. L Schmidt’s suggestion on p. 285-6. Barr disagrees to say that ekklesia can represent the understanding of qahal Yahweh, see James Barr, The Semantics of Biblical Language. London: SCM Press, 1983, 119-29. See also Kittel’s explanation about how difficult it is to find the real meaning of the term based on its etymology, since the meaning of a word always develops, becoming either broader or narrower, see Kittel, Bible Key Words, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1951, 57-61. Based on the motif of God’s calling, such as:
1. to live lives worthy of God in Eph 1:18; 4:1,4; 1Thess 2:12; 1Tim 6:12; Gal 5:8; 1 Pet 2:21
2. to live in holiness in 1Thess 4:7; 1 Pet 1:15; to be God’s witnesses in 1 Pet 2:9
3. to be a blessing for others in 1 Pet 3:9
4. to always learn to know God so the people called can grow firm and mature in their calling and election in 2 Pet 1:3,10);
5. the people called are free (connect the idea with rebirth) and now belong to God only in 1 Cor 7:22; Gal 5:13; Rom 1:6
6. the people called have to be faithful to God as God, God self is a faithful one in Heb 3:1; Rev 17:14; 1 Thess 5:24.
and the idea of to call out, church means to do a service to God and people. To be church means to be active: Worship to God, and to perform the calling. Thus the aspects of koinonia, diakonia, and to be the witness to the world (marturia) are there.
[vi] Until now in Asia, generally the HIV- Aids is caused by and spread through having free sex, before and after marriage. Getting the virus through using the same needle is getting increase in number lately, for drugs is so much common now.
[vii] The message of the book of Job is an opposition against the retribution idea - that is so much established in his society at that time- was created by the Deuteronomist in the sixth century BC.
[viii] The main writing of the Deuteronomist is found in Exodus 12-25. Later the school also composed the history of Israel in Joshua, Judge, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, and has a big role in editing almost all the prophetic books in Exile.
[ix] As long as the definition about God came from humans who are part of creations, the definition can not be absolute. The absolute one is God God-self. How can the limited definition can cover the unlimited God?
[x] See John 14:10-11; 17c, 20; 15:1-8 / Jesus the true vine and 15:9-11). John did not propose the mistical understanding when he used the preposition “in”. However he wants to emphasize that Jesus’ word is God’s; Jesus’ deed is God’s; what ever Jesus says and does it is to accomplish his mission from God ( Yoh 8:28; 12:49-50), therefore all his doing is accord with God’s desire (8:28). Proof of his word materialized in his action, and if his word isnot enough, just look at his action (17:4 see Verkuly. Injil Yahya, 186-7, 197; Raymond Brown.The Gospel According to John, 631-33. Therefore the mutual accord between his word and deed shown his recognation and faithfulnees to the owner of the word (Yoh 15:1-8; 9-11).
“ Now by this we may be sure that we know him,if we obey his commantmennt.Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commantments, is a liar, and in such person the truth does not exist;but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of god has reached prefecion. By this we may be sure that we are in him. Whoever says,”I abide in him,” ought to walk just as he walked.” (NRSV 1 John 2:3-6).
Life in Christ means that is based on word and deed of Jesus who has died and arised (Rm 6:1-14; 8:10; Kol 2:6; 1 Tes 2:12; Gal 2:20; 1 Yoh 2:6.) and not based on our will, power or the current trend. Thus Life in Christ is life of a reborn person that is always full of hope (Roma 5:2,4,5; 8:24; 12:12; 15:4,13; 1Kor 13:13; 1 Pet 1:3,13,21) and it is life in spirit as well (Roma 8:5-6, 9-11; 12:9-21; Gal 5:16-26; Kol 3:5-17.) and it must reveal justice (Ef 5:9; 6:14; cf 1 Tim 6:11; 2 Tim 2:22; 1 Br 1:9) and the right thing (1 John 2:29; 3:10,19). Compare this idea with the covenant idea in the OT. You have to be holy for I am holy. Therefore no one who abides in him sins (1 John 3:6a,9a,c; 5:18a; Raymond Brown, The Epistle of John, 383-420.
[xi] Cf Gen 1:26-28; Gen 9: 6. This phrase is understood by some OT scholars as one possible model for theological ethics in Israel, see John Barton, “The Basis of Ethics in the Hebrew Bible,” in SEMEIA 66, 1994, 11-22. While it is also used by some people to be a reason to care for the HIV-AIDS people. Imago Dei is also as a basis for the community life, therefore there is no tension between individual and community. It needs to be understood that OT theology is the ethics. Cf also Rm8:29, for those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be confirmed to the image of his son.”
[xii] Cf. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven; Jesus’ pray in Gethsemane.
[xiii] The creation idea in Genesis is repeated in the eschatological expectation that is found in Isa. 11:2-9; 65:25; Hos. 2:10; Ezek. 34:25; cf. Jurgen Moltmann, “Liberating And Anticipating the Future,” in Liberating Eschatology, Kentucky: John Knox Press, 1999, 189-208.
[xiv] It happens in the PC USA and the Methodist church of USA, see Leon Howell, United Methodism: A Risk. A Wakeup call. New York: United Methodist, 2003. This tension affects the financial factor in the church. The right wing that is considered as the conservatives and also as a dominant source for church’s financial, withdraw its money from the church or does not want to contribute its money to the church anymore. Thus there is a quake in the church, not only effects its dogmatics and rules, but also numbers of its workers. This case also can be applied to the ecumenical institutions, such as WCC, CCA, NCC, PGI etc.I think we need to be aware of the increasing numbers of people who go to the church that belong to the evangelical and fundamentalist Protestant. Cf. Harvey Cox, Religion In the Secular City, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984.
[xvi] Can we say that the church itself is in the crisis identity situation lately?
[xvii] Our task is how to converge these two poles. Otherwise each pole goes by itself and it won’t ever be a real theology. Or in other words I want to say that how we can converge the liberal and the conservatives to deal with the current issues?
[xviii] In this case I agree with Moltmann, The Future of Creation, 106, Though I want to add that we also need to consider our own context (culture and tradition).
[xix] Part of the living creatures' obligation is to multiply them selves. This is stated as Elohim's blessing to animals in Gen. 1:22 and human beings in Gen 1:28, but not to the plants; see also Tikva Frymer-Kensky, “Sex and sexuality,” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol. 5, 1146.
[xx] Gen 2:23-24
[xxi] The blood of Christ is understood as an act of redemption once for all. Once you become Christian, it means that you are in the new covenant. Therefore the cross empowered us to do righteous (Rm 3: 25; 10:4) for we are new born peoples, peoples who live in spirit (John 3:16; 13:1,34; 14:15,21,23; 15:9,12,17; 16:27; Rm 12:10; 13:8,10; 1Chr 13; Gal 5:13,22; Ef 4:2,15; 5:2; 6:24; Flp 2:2; Kol 2:2; 3:14; 1Pet 1:22; 2:17; 3:8; 4:8; 1 John 3:11, 14,23; 4:7, 8, 11, 19, 21; 5:1,2; 2 John 5; 2 John 6.)
[xxii] Look at the metaphor that is used by Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Deutero Isaiah and Malachi. Even in this metaphor it is stated that loyalty is very much needed in relationship. Cf. Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, Faithfulness in Action. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985, 112-16.
[xxiii] The death of Jesus is understood as making a new covenant (cf. the idea of sacrifice in the OT), see: 1 Cor 11:25; Lk 22:10; Mat 26:27; cf. foot note # 21.
[xxiv] Faithfulness (emet) is put as God’s attitude, it often coupling with steadfast love (hesed), see: ex34; Lam 3:22-23.
[xxv] It is as a sign that the church is faithfulness in action, cf. Katharine, Faithfulness in Action, 147-8.
[xxvi] Based on the motifs of God’s calling it is understood that the people called are expected to live faithfully in the process of growing into God’s direction till they are able to live in holiness (cf. Gal 5:16-26). Thus, there is an emphasis on the process, but there is no excuse for not growing into mature faith (1 Cor 13:11; 3:1-3; 14:20 and Eph 4:7-16.) Their life is conducted only by God, from and for God, since their calling makes them the reborn ones (Eph 4:17-32; Col 3:1-17; cf. Rom 6:1-11; 8; 12:9-21;16:3; 1 Cor 13; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 2:20; 3:5-17; 5:6-16; Phil 2:5; 3:21; John 3:3) and belonging to God Cf. Hans Conzelmann. 1 Corinthians, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985, 71-2; Therefore the gathering of the people called is supposed to be and perform as the kingdom of God in and to the world. Cf. John Bright, The Kingdom of God, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1983, 256-59. See also Jesus’ understanding of it, on p. 219-21.
[xxvii] Cf. Wolfhart Pannenberg. Theology and the Kingdom of God. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1977, 102-120; Moltmann Says that Christian ethics are eschatological ethics, see Moltmann in ”Liberating And Anticipating the future,”205.
Batam, 1 December 2003
Mindawati Perangin-angin Tampubolon
Paper dibacakan sebagai refleksi teologis terhadap aids dalam pertemuan gereja lutheran se Asia dan Afrika di Batam[xxvii]