Today on Blogcritics
Home » Culture and Society » Health and Fitness » Scarlet Letter – A Christian With AIDS

Scarlet Letter – A Christian With AIDS

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

The following is an actual letter I sent to a close Christian friend in 1999, immediately after I was diagnosed with HIV. Since then the HIV has progressed on into AIDS.

I hesitated going public with this now, not wanting to throw fuel on the fire of those who would cruelly use this information against me in a vain attempt to discredit what I say and write on many controversial topics, narrowly focusing on this imperfect messenger rather than concentrating on my God-given biblical message.

However, I trust that the many principles involved here – the process of conversion, love and forgiveness, faith and patience, how perfection is our goal and destiny, how deadly serious sin is, making the most of our experiences, the amazing grace of God, etc., can benefit others who are able to glean something positive from such life experiences to bless their own lives and others and glorify God.


July 2, 1999

Dear Carl,

My Christian friend Jen emailed me when she found out about Tony being diagnosed with HIV. She was sorry to hear about it and said, “I really hope this may be some sort of wake up call for you. You’re too smart to do some of the stuff you do, and you have a lot of friends who worry about you…”

I’ve talked with Jen a lot and she knows that I’ve been far from a disciplined Christian when it comes to sex outside of marriage. She’s a “born-again virgin,” to her credit, vowing never to have sex again until marriage — so help her God!

It turned put the wake up call is too late for me, in one sense. After finding out that Tony had the dreaded disease, I thought it’s more likely I would have it since I’ve been more “risky” than him (he and I are only friends), so I went and got tested to play it safe (pun intended). Well, I was devastated yesterday morning to have the nice and pretty lady tell me that she “didn’t have good news.”

I’ve been diagnosed with HIV by the Eliza test and it’s been backed up/confirmed by the European blot test. My first thought was where is the highest building to jump off of, as tears filled my eyes, and then I was in that dream state where this can’t be happening, this is all unreal, I’m watching a movie, how will I tell mom and Kim and Lisa and everybody, why did I have to be so stupid? Why couldn’t/didn’t I stop sinning and live? As Cher sings, “If I could turn back time.” But the woman tried to comfort me, saying that whereas most people used to die within two years, now many are living up to 10 years without any symptoms. I also don’t have any symptoms now.

She gave me all the information and numbers and places like David’s House and MCO [Medical College of Ohio] to help out people like me with no insurance (and now I’ll never be able to get any), all the information that I never wanted to hear or have to receive (probably like you now, sorry)….

I went and told mom in person, as Bob suggested, and she told Kim who cried with me on the phone, and they’re going to tell Lisa. Of course, I could live a “normal” life and outlive everybody, one never knows. All I know is I prayed to God years ago, in my beloved Israel, that I wanted to be in His Kingdom no matter what — even if it took AIDS to help me get and stay straight. Well, it looks like God might let my body be destroyed to save my soul; or He’ll let me have it, if He doesn’t heal me (and He could), to keep me celibate (since He knows I won’t go out and give it to others like some wicked people I know).

Mom said, “God hasn’t let you live this long to let you die now.” I just hate the selfishness of sin, how I’ve now hurt and affected my family, and then there’s the stigma that a struggling Christian writer would have AIDS! But God promises everything works together for good, for those of us who are called according to His wonderful purpose.

This is only my second day of “living with AIDS” and I’m already sick and tired of thinking and/or worrying about it. Of course I had another test done right then and there just in case, however unlikely, that they switched my blood tube with someone else’s. Anyway, life goes on.

Shabbat Shalom,

Your bro,
David

Powered by

About David Ben-Ariel

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    My deep sympathies to you, David, which I know is little solace.

    I have no desire to get into a debate with you over this, and you do point out that the publishing of this thread is a sort of background info, most likely in response to the responses you got on ‘that other thread’.

    I would offer my two cents in that there is no statistical proof that HIV/AIDS is punishment for biblical sin, as this post implies. Certainly, when one looks at HIV/AIDS cases around the world, the majority are for heterosexual sex and/or needle use, which is not limited to illegal drugs.

    I think that the concept that you believe, that you are being punished for a sin, is a far greater burden on your soul than you should have to bear. There are gay people who go their whole lives without the disease, there are children born with it, sinless children as it were. Look at the bigger picture and you will see there is no correlation.

    narrowly focusing on this imperfect messenger rather than concentrating on my God-given biblical message.

    But when it comes to religion, it is all about the messenger, or haven’t you read? Perhaps, and it’s just a thought, God sent you here to BC not as a messenger but as someone who needs to hear a message. As an agnostic, I am certainly not implying myself.

    Isn’t it presumptious though, to assume that YOUR biblical message is God-Given? Did He speak to you personally?

    I wish you and your soul peace, but I won’t allow misinformation that harms others to stand just to make somebody else feel better.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    David, rather than offer some sort of “my sympathies are with you”, which, although they are, hardly means a terrible lot comin from someone who’s never lain eyes on you, or advise you to look to the love of your God rather than what you seem to suggest is His punsihment, since opinions are held and that’s that, instead of this, which i’ve already gone an done, i’ll just note that the strength an honesty here was blinding for a moment. thank you.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    Steve S, we seem to have published at the same time, i didn’t see your comment before writing mine, just in case it seemed like it was a veiled remark regarding your own thoughts.

  • http://beyondbabylon.blogspot.com David Ben-Ariel

    HIV/AIDS is “punishment” for breaking some health law ordained by our Creator God, cause and effect, whether through sinful activities of the one who suffers from it or from the sinful action of others through no fault of their own (children, transfusions, rape, etc.).

    I don’t blame God for my disease. I blame myself for failing to put into practice everything that is preached all the time: abstinence or “safe sex” (although some state it’s safer, not safe).

    The government doesn’t need to do more about AIDS prevention – it’s up to the People, We the People, and all assuming the personal responsibility I let lapse and now pay for it. Just a fact of life.

    I thank any for empathy, as I have for others in different circumstances. I know this life is merely a sojourn and that soon I’ll be born again into the God Kingdom-Family and all these very human experiences will be history, but will have been utilized to teach me pricless lessons and prepare me for a glorious eternity, inheriting the awesome Universe! There is a bright future for those willing to be transformed.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    HIV/AIDS is “punishment” for breaking some health law ordained by our Creator God,

    Can you prove that David, or is that your belief, founded on nothing but faith? Does it specifically state that in the Bible? Does that mean that cerebral palsy, overian cancer, heart disease and everything else is punishment from God?

    If you do not believe that those are punishments, then why single out HIV/AIDS? What is your proof for such an outrageous claim?

  • http://beyondbabylon.blogspot.com David Ben-Ariel

    All disease is the result of cause and effect: some physical laws that our Creator God has ordained and set in motion have been transgressed and the symptoms are the sickness. Our bodies are “punishing” us, although God can utilize sickness or anything to ultimately make us and not break us, if we will.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    That is opinion/belief. Nothing more.

  • chantal stone

    My thoughts and prayers are with you David.

    I am also a Christian, and I would like to know if you have a biblical reference to back up what you said about disease being the result of cause and effect. I’ve been going to church for years, and never heard anyone make a statement like that before.

  • http://beyondbabylon.blogspot.com David Ben-Ariel

    Shabbat Shalom (Sabbath peace) Chantal Stone,

    If it’s not cause and effect, if sickness isn’t a reflex symptom, what else would it be? I’m not saying its always a known cause for the effect, but that there is a cause that has called the dis-ease. I’ll have to pray and meditate to see if there’s some clear Scripture on this or only principles. Presently I just know there was chaos and confusion before God established law and order on Earth, and it appears as long as we’re in harmony with those laws and in order, all will be well.

    Many things must be restored to Earth when Christ returns and reigns, and health is one of them. Mankind is still in the dark on many of the health laws and suffer the consequences for it, but we often reject the ones we know (like don’t eat what is forbidden, abuse needles, engage in prostitution, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bestiality, etc.).

    God save us all.

  • chantal stone

    Thank you for the response, David. But I must disagree with your logic. The idea that disease is punishment for sin sounds like something right out of the dark ages. What about children born with disease, just as one example? And you can’t argue that its punishment for someone else’s sin passed on to them…didn’t Jesus already pay for our sins? Surely that wasn’t done in vain.

    It feels inappropriate to debate with you on this subject, considering the heartfelt, honest and tragic topic of your post. But it’s also heartbreaking to see you bear the burden of your disease based on the misconception that who you essentially are as a man is sinful. God created you in His image, and Loves you exactly the way you are. He loves all of us, whether we believe in Him or not. Jesus paid the ultimate price for sin (let me just make it clear that I do NOT believe homosexuality is a sin), so you can rest easy in His comfort and Love.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Hmm.

    “If (disease) not cause and effect, if sickness isn’t a reflex symptom, what else would it be?”

    Molecular biology. There are innocents in the world.

    There really is no way to have a rational discussion on the cause of disease with someone who blames it ALL on God (and their “weaknesses”.) It can be civil, but it can’t be based on reason.

    As Steve S alludes to, people have contracted AIDs or HIV through needed blood donations, through boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and wives who didn’t tell the other person they had HIV or AIDS.

    Yours is a perfect example of where human interpretation and teaching gets in the way of one person’s relationship with God. True some people like to blame themselves for everything that happens to them. It has been my experience that the majority of those who have the capacity to blame themselves often should not (e.g. abuse victims) and, are outnumbered by those who should blame themselves for their jobless, friendless, addicted existence, but do not.

    Ryan White was the face of AIDS in the mid-80s (a quick summary), but very few people, it seems, took the lessons that he embodied to heart or to mind.

    Even fewer “god-fearing” Christians or Jews.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    I agree Temple.

    a virus is a lifeform, simply trying to survive.

    There is actual medical evidence, although not before me right now, that the HIV/AIDS virus actually ‘watered itself down’, I can’t think of the appropriate words, in order to not kill its host so quickly.

    Many lifeforms consume other lifeforms in order to survive. I don’t think the spider is God’s punishment to the fly anymore than I think a virus is God’s punishment to Man, and I think it is harmful to the psyche to promote otherwise.

  • http://beyondbabylon.blogspot.com David Ben-Ariel

    HIV/AIDS is “punishment” for breaking some health law ordained by our Creator God, cause and effect, whether through sinful activities of the one who suffers from it or from the sinful action of others through no fault of their own (children, transfusions, rape, etc.).

  • http://beyondbabylon.blogspot.com David Ben-Ariel

    Ryan White was the poster boy for those who didn’t want the ugly truth outed that most folks in the West who have HIV/AIDS are practicing homosexuals, drug addicts, prostitutes and other destructive “lifestyle” choices.

    Of the MANY people I know who have HIV/AIDS (or who have died from its consequences), they were/are homosexuals one and all. I don’t deny the facts, but believe in telling the plain truth. Behavior modification, repentance, could go a long way in saving untold lives, so help us God.

  • chantal stone

    ….in your humble opinion, David.

    not all Believers believe that.

    grace and peace

  • http://beyondbabylon.blogspot.com David Ben-Ariel

    Chantal:

    “….in your humble opinion, David.

    not all Believers believe that.”

    Did I state otherwise?

  • chantal stone

    no you did not, David, but i wanted to make sure all of the readers here understand that you are stating your own opinion, (which although i wholeheartedly disagree with, i respect) and not the general consensus of those of the Christian faith.

    blessings

  • http://beyondbabylon.blogspot.com David Ben-Ariel

    I think the general consensus already understand there isn’t much of a general consensus among professing Christians on many issues.

    Thankfully, when Christ returns from Heaven (in full view of all mankind – not from some EU chamber or desert) and reigns in Jerusalem, He’ll set the standard for all nations and teach Torah to those who had formerly idolized their tinsel traditions.

    The plain truth will set us free, so help us God. :-)

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Ryan White was and is a clear example that directly opposes everything you say and bring out here. That’s “the rational.”

    “Of the MANY people I know who have HIV/AIDS (or who have died from its consequences), they were/are homosexuals one and all.”

    And maybe i missed something in your piece but are you saying you were in a – however brief – gay sexual relationship (as opposed to say, a gay non-sexual relationship?)? “I took the “straight” in your letter as “going clean.”

    And if you are gay, I would aver that it stands to reason (there’s that word again) that your circles include many gay people – and the percentages in your personal life would favor you only knowing gay people who died of illnesses related to AIDS.

    I know one person who has AIDS and he’s been happily married for decades to a wman who does not have AIDS or HIV.

    As for the part of your “disclaimer” which basically is a warning to other Christians that they shouldn’t hate you because of something God did to you (there’s that lack of logic and reason again) – the point of not being taken seriously on this subject is your own self-hatred. Or, not to be presumptuous – what comes across as self-hate.

    Self hate is a filter through which people lose reason and through which theor logic dictates that they are to blame for all the ills in the world.

    Ifyou had sex – gay or not – God’s punishment seems to have avoided millions and millions of other people who do the same thing every day.

    I am discussing what was presented here. If there are other facts you care to relate, please go ahead and maybe I’ll agree that you deserved it. That’s what you’re saying, right?

    Of course, I am sorry you have AIDS. Of course, you are ignoring much to try and push your overall point that you were a bad boy.

    Believe it if you want – ask the “why me?” question but sometimes that question does not have an answer – but don’t expect others to believe it or feel sorry for you on this basis.

    You’ve lived almost seven years with AIDS. I ask the semi-serious question, “Why are you taking medicines to deny God’s will?”

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    On the basis presented here, that is ….

  • http://beyondbabylon.blogspot.com David Ben-Ariel

    TS:
    “As for the part of your “disclaimer” which basically is a warning to other Christians that they shouldn’t hate you”

    I wrote no such thing. What I did write was meant to include anybody “who would cruelly use this information against me in a vain attempt to discredit what I say and write on many controversial topics…”

    Thankfully, only a few have abused this information.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Holy shit, David,

    As someone else, said, your honesty is blinding. I’m not entering this argument. Agreeing with you means blaming you for your behavior and coldly pointing the finger at you and saying “magía l’khá” – you deserve it.

    Disagreeing with you means disagreeing with a fundamental principle you’ve delineated – that Hashem is the ruler of His universe and institutes His rules to govern His creatures.

    People in America often seem to prefer to lay aside the basic concept of sin and they often do not think to thank G-d for the rain, for the wind, for the snow and for all that He does to keep their land fertile that they might eat their daily bread. Praying to G-d to relent a famine or drought is not the sign of the mind lost in the dark ages. It is the sign of the healthy mind who realizes Who really runs the show.

    It has become my own opininon over time that when we suffer misfortune, no matter how unfair that misfortune might seem – we are being tested for faith and trust – emuná and bitahhón.

    Refuá Shlemá – may you see a full recovery at the Hand of the Almighty.

    Shavúa Tov from the City of David. May G-d hasten your return here.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Temple, you asked “Why are you taking medicines to deny God’s will?”

    Rav Moshe ben Maimon, whom you might know under the name Maimonides was a doctor as well as the greatest Jewish scholar who ever lived.

    Any believing Jew will tell you that you take medicine in order to continue to live – and that you seek to continue to live in order to fulfill the mitvot (commandments) of G-d.

  • http://beyondbabylon.blogspot.com David Ben-Ariel

    Toda raba (thank you very much) Ruvy for blessings of a complete healing. Meanwhile, I trust God won’t let it interfere with my Work and that He is more than capable of turning lemons into lemonade and we can say, “How sweet it is!” (Not just Jackie Gleason).

    I’m only a Bactrim now (antibiotic) and my blood pressure pill, but may choose to go back on some meds for awhile, we’ll see. (That dilemma is found in another thread).

    I yearn to return to Zion and know the Day is near and I’ll be thrilled to see Jerusalem and friends again, especially the holy Temple Mount (sends shudders through GSS).

    Shavua tov (good week),
    David

  • http://desicritics.org Aaman

    I don’t think the spider is God’s punishment to the fly anymore than I think a virus is God’s punishment to Man, and I think it is harmful to the psyche to promote otherwise. – Great comment

  • http://beyondbabylon.blogspot.com David Ben-Ariel

    Apparently many missed that I had put “punishment” in quotation marks. The natural laws our Great Creator God set in motion rule, whether or not we recognize them. If we break them, even ignorant of such a law, we or something will be “diseased” by it if we get caught in its web.

    The fly will suffer the nature/law of the spider who is programmed to eat it.

    Just a fact of life.

  • http://beyondbabylon.blogspot.com David Ben-Ariel

    After posting “The fly will suffer the nature/law of the spider who is programmed to eat it,” I now feel compelled to add…

    weedhopper…LOL

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    The fly will suffer the nature/law of the spider who is programmed to eat it.

    I understand, better, what you are saying now. I still disagree with the premise, but what you originally wrote was very inflammatory as it seemed to insinuate that a virus was a punishment from God. I understand your cause and effect belief now, although I disagree with it, as it does not take into account other factors like luck (good or bad).

    Take for example a hemophiliac who receive it from a transfusion. ‘Nature’, if you will, ‘punishes’ the individual because somebody somewhere along the line violated some law of God? Doesn’t sound like a very just God to me.

    yet that perfectly fits your assertion that a law of nature was violated somewhere along the line, so somebody, somehow must pay.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Another thing while I’m thinking of it, and this is sort of a ‘mix’ as it applies to your comments on the other thread as well, not just your comments here:

    It reveals a lot about a person, when he chooses to attack the morality of others, portraying them as immoral dogs in heat, classifying them as degenerate and corrupting nature, but then when they speak out on their own behalf, he suddenly portrays himself as the victim of a hostile people.

  • http://beyondbabylon.blogspot.com David Ben-Ariel

    I haven’t referred to anybody as horny dogs but two fictional married men who chose to cheat on their wives whom they vowed to love and be faithful to.

    It reveals a lot about a person who keeps putting words in my mouth that my posts, upon careful reading, prove are simply not there.

  • chantal stone

    David—
    at this point i think perhaps we can agree to disagree (and i’m referring also to the the comments from your other threads). it’s clear we all are set in our own belief systems and no amount of going back and forth will change either viewpoint.

    i just find it interesting that there can be so many variations of Christianity, in particular what i believe personally being much more tolerant, and dare i say ‘liberal’, than what you personally appear to believe — at least from what you have said here.

    but the fact of the matter remains that Christ lives in us both. and i think that maybe it hurts God to see His children argue over the interpretation (or even misinterpretation) of His Word. let’s face it, wars have been fought over that simple fact.

    i will continue to pray for you and your well-being.

  • http://beyondbabylon.blogspot.com David Ben-Ariel

    Thank you Chantal and this conservative Christian will gladly pray for you and your well-being.

    Have a lovely week! :-)

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Thanks for the replies DBA. As expected the discussion changed little, except it did give you the opportunity to explain what you “really” meant in your original writing.

    There’s a speaker at a local church today who’s a previous follower of Charles Manson – Dennis Rice.

    First off the advertisement for it, in a flier on everyone’s door has Manson’s face writ large in the background. The picture where he’s looking right at the camera and for which the term “If looks could kill” was coined. Thanks for bringing that to everyone’s door first of all. Second of all, this talk is being advertised through titilation.

    But what I found most revealing in its equivelancy was the tagline “Charles Manson couldn’t save him, prison couldn’t change him … only Jesus Christ could set him free”

  • http://gfre none of gbkhg

    i think that god is the only cure for aids i had an uncle and his whole family who were diagnosed with full blown AIDS and he prayed to god and when he went to the hospital with his family he and his family were cured

  • http://yitzhakrabin.blogspot.com David Ben-Ariel

    With God all things are possible.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    comment #34 sez…
    *had an uncle and his whole family who were diagnosed with full blown AIDS and he prayed to god and when he went to the hospital with his family he and his family were cured*

    i call bullshit…if ANY diagnosed case of AIDS had EVER been “cured” in any way shape or form…that would have made the news somewhere…at least the diagnosing doctors involved in treatment would have said something to someone?

    so, unless evidence is produced with some medical tests attached…this has to fall into the fucking rabid Lie category

    Excelsior?

  • K Banks

    GOD MADE ADAM AND EVE, NOT ADAM AND STEVE

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Chris Rose,

    Please check out this article – the first 21 comments are missing from it. It suffers from the same problems that a different article by David ben Ariel did.

  • http://www.antequeravillarental.com Christopher Rose

    Fixed now, thanks Ruvy.

  • http://beyondbabylon.blogspot.com David Ben-Ariel

    GOD MADE ADAM AND EVE, NOT ADAM AND STEVE

    That’s true, K Banks, so WHY is it so often today Adam and Eve, then Adam and Mary, then Adam and Sue, then Adam and Gloria, then Adam and Fran…

    Why so much divorce and remarriage and remarriage and remarriage-go-round? Isn’t such perpetual polygamy forbidden?

  • ray

    i to have aids i took me out of it now i move under gods peace im a father and husband and used needles i dont belive its a punishment i found out mon its now fri and i see its 4 gods glory 40 yrs of drug adddiction and prisons god turned into his glory when i gave my hart to him mon im happyer than i have ever been i prayed take me where i have to be lord he did and i praise him in this storm