“Jesus Was HIV-Positive,” Says Preacher

A South African pastor set off a recent furor by saying in a three-part sermon that Jesus was HIV-positive, deliberately using the metaphor to highlight the stigma and danger of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  “Wherever you open the scriptures Jesus puts himself in the shoes of people who experience brokenness,” Pastor Xola Skosana explained to the BBC.  “Of course, there’s no scientific evidence that Jesus had the HI virus in his bloodstream…[but] the best gift we can give to people who are HIV-positive is to…create an environment where they know God is…not ashamed of them.”

The controversial metaphor has outraged some Christians, who claim that Skosana is “dragging the name of Christ to the ground,” or say that such statements will allow non-Christians to mock Christ.  But for others, the pastor’s message is a powerful one, and has the potential to encourage real action.  Pastor Skosana concluded his three-part sermon by getting an HIV test in front of his congregation, inspiring 100 churchgoers to follow his example.

An Anglican priest voiced his support, saying, “What Pastor Skosana is clearly saying is that Christ at this point in time would be on the side of the people who are HIV-positive – people who are being sidelined by the very church that is attacking him.”

And even secular AIDS activists have vocally supported Skosana’s message.  Professor Jan Glazewski, who has been HIV-positive for 15 years, wrote in a letter to a Cape Town newspaper that one of the most powerful things the church could do is to emphasize Christ’s fight for the poor and marginalized.

I have to say, I also find Pastor Skosana’s metaphor to be compelling.  Christ surprised many people during his lifetime because of his tendency to associate with prostitutes, thieves and tax collecters; even his family was upset and confused by the way he reached out to the most vulnerable.  And certainly, this has been a theme that has drawn Christians to social justice; it was the foundation of liberation theology and the social gospel movement, and continues to be influential in contemporary Christianity, as evidenced by people like Pastor Skosana.  Although it may be a stretch to say that Christ actually had HIV, the idea that Christ would want his followers to break down the stigma and barriers surrounding people with HIV is certainly true.

Photo from Flickr.

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Lin Moy
Lin M4 years ago

sadly read

Citlalli Valles
Citlalli Valles4 years ago

I understand the preacher seems a tad out of line. However, those who discriminate, mistreat or condemn people with HIV or AIDS are much more out of line. Sometimes you have to fight fire with (a much smaller) fire.
I don't think this man was trying to offend - he meant to raise awareness, and if 100 people got tested because of him, I can only support his action.

Shauna B.
Shauna B.4 years ago

I understand the pastor's reasons for saying this, but I do think he chose a particularly contraversial way to illustrate his point.
HIV is a man made virus and as such, I believe has existed only in modern times, say not before 1900.
Making this comment was most likely incredibly hurtful to those who see Jesus as perfect. I feel for them. We need to accept and treat all people equally because they have that right, regardless of illness or affliction.

Richard C.
Richard C.4 years ago

Jesus whore condoms.

toni harrison kahn

I think the Pastor had the right idea....good on him...if it wakes people up to the fact that people with aids are not to be ignored or

Trudi Gray
Trudi Gray4 years ago

Speaking as a non-observant Jew, I find it strange that so many so-called Christians just- AREN'T. Perhaps they should all find one another, and start up a new movement that they could call the Bigots.

Sarah M.
.4 years ago

I Believe that Yeshua Shared even the HIV, if it existed at that time in history, but I do not believe that He Himself was HIV.

jane richmond
jane richmond5 years ago


Chris A.
Chris A.5 years ago

Priyeni M. I think that the whole argument is either irrelevant or fundamentally flawed. As far as we know from the Bible, controversial preachers apart, Jesus enjoyed good health.

HIV and aids were unheard of in my youth, so it's existence 2,000 years ago makes the whole discussion pointless. That HIV does exist may be the result of wrong doing, we simply have no idea of how it started. It's just possible that careless scientific research brought about. It is classified as an STD, and just like others it affects both sexes, whether gay or not.

While not being prudish, the rampant promiscuity that we see today, often not involving any safety does little to help, and where the same carelessness about sex that transmits the disease, also infects a resulting fetus, I would say that there is plenty of wrong doing.

Jason H.
Jason H.5 years ago

Priyeni M.: what is offensive about it? Unless you are *assuming* that HIV is the result of sin or wrongdoing, I see no reason to be offended. You know, some theologians in the past have speculated that Jesus was a leper -- and in those days, leprosy was as feared as HIV is now; lepers were outcasts from society. Besides, the scripture says "He bore our infirmities," so in some sense we can say that whatever illnesses afflict man, He in some sense has within Him, too.