Jesus had HIV.
At least, according to one South African pastor.
Xola Skosana, of the non-denominational Hope for Life Ministry in Cape Town, opened a recent sermon by telling his congregation, “Today I will start with a three-part sermon on: Jesus was HIV-positive.”
Before you go writing Skosana off as just another religious madman, realize that he actually had his reasoning.
“Wherever you open the scriptures Jesus puts himself in the shoes of people who experience brokenness,” Skosana said. “Isaiah 53, for example, clearly paints a picture of Jesus who takes upon himself the infirmities and the brokenness of humanity.”
He admitted that Jesus probably wasn’t HIV-positive.
“Of course, there’s no scientific evidence that Jesus had the HI virus in his bloodstream,” Skosana said. “The best gift we can give to people who are HIV-positive is to help de-stigmatize AIDS and create an environment where they know God is not against them, he’s not ashamed of them.”
Naturally, Skosana’a sermon has some people fuming. Mike Bele, a local pastor, said that no man with the correct knowledge of scripture “would deliberately drag the name of Christ to the ground.”
But is that really what Skosana’s doing? Bele’s comments echo that stigma Skosana’s trying to remove. Over 5.7 million South Africans live with HIV. Skosana lost two sisters to AIDS. If anything, he’s got people talking.
In the end, much of the debate falls in the realm of religious doctrine and interpretation of scripture. But, all of that aside, it’s hard to argue with what Skosana’s doing. He’s trying to raise awareness and fight the stigma of the virus. Sure, there might be better, less sensational ways to go about it, but he had good intentions.
What do you think about Skosana’s sermon? Outraged? Delighted? Let us know in the comments.