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On The Global Aids Crisis

WHEREAS, Our Lord Jesus warns us that our hearts will be revealed on the Day of Judgment by our actions toward the least of these, His sick and suffering brothers (Matthew 25:31–46); and

WHEREAS, Scripture further defines authentic faith as marked by compassion for the weak, the hurting, and the fatherless (James 1:27; James 2:14–17); and

WHEREAS, Scripture commands the church to herald the Kingdom of Christ through mercy for those in distress (Galatians 6:10; 1 John 3:17–18); and

WHEREAS, The plague of HIV/AIDS has reached near pandemic proportions on the continent of Africa, with nearly 30 million men, women, and children there diagnosed with this horrific disease; and

WHEREAS, This reign of death has left over 11 million children there orphaned and destitute; and

WHEREAS, This crisis shows no signs of abating, with 3.5 million new cases of HIV/AIDS reported in sub-Saharan Africa last year, along with almost 2.5 million deaths from the disease; and

WHEREAS, President George W. Bush has initiated and the United States Congress has passed emergency global AIDS relief that includes $15 billion in United States support over the next five years to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS in African and Caribbean countries devastated by this disease; and

WHEREAS, This effort by our government confronts the AIDS crisis with HIV testing, a drug distribution network, and training for healthcare workers and others charged with caring for AIDS sufferers and orphans left behind in the wake of this disease; and

WHEREAS, The most effective aspects of this initiative seek to move beyond the failed “remedies” of the counterproductive “safe sex” emphasis on condom distribution; and

WHEREAS, These aspects of the initiative instead focus on sexual abstinence until marriage and sexual fidelity within marriage, emphases consonant with a biblical view of human sexuality; and

WHEREAS, The effectiveness of this abstinence-based strategy has been tested and proven in Uganda where the AIDS infection rate has dropped from 30 percent to 10 percent of the population; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 17–18, 2003, call on our churches to recognize the gravity of the global AIDS crisis; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we support humanitarian efforts, such as those launched by President Bush, to channel American resources to combat effectively the devastation of this disease; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we confess as Christians blessed to live in an affluent North American context that the Evil One will tempt us to concern ourselves with our own comfort and to ignore the cries of those suffering around the world; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we affirm that in the face of the AIDS victim, we see our neighbor (Luke 10:29–37)—a neighbor our Lord Jesus has commanded us to love as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we believe we will be reminded of the plight of this neighbor when we stand to give account before our King Jesus at the end of the age; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call Southern Baptists to fervent and directed prayer and to energetic and focused action on behalf of those around the world suffering from this growing menace; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on our churches to model the reconciliation and mercy of the Kingdom of God by showing compassion to those suffering with AIDS—both across the globe and in our own church pews; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we call on Southern Baptists to proclaim boldly to all people everywhere the only message of hope that can rescue any of us from the ultimate power of sin and death, the gospel of a crucified and resurrected Christ.