Ho — CHURCHES have no moral authority to prevent people living with HIV from tying the knot, according Rev. Dr E. A. K. Amey, clerk of the General Assembly of the E.P. Church, Ghana.
He insisted that it is not the job of the church to make people living with HIV to feel worse.
Rev. Amey was presenting a paper on: "The role of the church in supporting people living with HIV/AIDS - A theological reflection", at the re-launch of the AIDS/TB programme of the E.P. Church Development and Relief Agency (EPDRA), in Ho last Thursday.
He maintained that there was the need for many conservative Christians to move away from the judgement theory which characterised their response to HIV, saying to define HIV/AIDS solely in terms of God's punishment for sexual promiscuity was totally wrong.
"If God is using HIV/AIDS to punish homosexuals, why are innocent wives and husbands and infants also suffering from it, and what is the sin of a person who gets infected with HIV through infected blood?" Rev Amey sought to know.
He cited instances in which some churches demanded the results of HIV tests from prospective couples as a condition for their marriage and said that was highly discriminatory towards people living with HIV.
"Even in instances where the HIV-status of one or both partners is made known to the church, it would rather be necessary to counsel the couple and not to condemn or prevent the planned wedlock," said Rev. Amey.
The clerk of the General Assembly entreated churches to come out with a compassionate programme to engender a practical caring response to people living with HIV, to provide them with love, hope and healing.
He cited an instance in the scriptures in which Jesus stretched his hand to touch a leper and healed him in times when leprosy was considered the most terrible disease.
"So, if we are to be faithful to God, who called and appointed us to follow His example in our attitudes towards our brothers and sisters, then we have no alternative than to embrace the unique personality of every sufferer and those who suffer with them," Rev. Amey added.
An early childhood education expert and a writer, Mrs Vida Dzobo who chaired the function said that, people living with HIV were and integral part of the society and entitled to their dignity.
Stigmatising people living with HIV, she pointed out, could prevent them from seeking treatment, and that could also derail efforts towards curbing the HIV infection trend.