Question: "What does the Bible say about AIDS / HIV? Is AIDS / HIV a judgment from God?"

Answer: Fundamentally, all disease is a result of sin. Adam and Eve did not know corruption of any kind before the fall. When God pronounced judgment on Adam, death entered the world (Genesis 3:19; Romans 5:12). All sickness, from the common cold to cancer, is part of the curse, and we who live in a cursed world are subject to decay. So, yes, AIDS/HIV and other STDs (along with all other diseases) are the result of sin in a cursed world.

The Bible plainly teaches that our choices bear consequences. Whatever a man sows is what he reaps (Galatians 6:7–8). Righteousness brings blessing: “Keep my commands and you will live” (Proverbs 7:2); and sin brings judgment: “He who sows wickedness reaps trouble” (Proverbs 22:8). One of our problems is that we want total freedom to choose our actions, but we want them consequence-free. The reality is that, when we choose a course of action, we automatically choose its corresponding result. Scripture warns that sexual sin carries a built-in judgment from God. “He who sins sexually sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). “God will judge . . . all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4). It cannot be denied that living according to biblical principles (sexual fidelity within marriage) drastically reduces one’s chances of contracting HIV/AIDS and other STDs.

Romans 1:18–32 is an indictment of the heathen, idolatrous world. It starts with these words: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men.” This passage teaches that the sin of homosexuality has its roots in a denial of God. It brings about shame, degradation, and a “due penalty.” Since STDs such as AIDS/HIV are attendant, for the most part, upon sexual sin, they must be considered as part of the “penalty” that reveals “the wrath of God” against the wickedness of men (verse 18). A key phrase is God gave them over, which occurs three times in Romans 1. God gave them over to sexual impurity (verse 24), to shameful lusts (verse 26), and to a depraved mind (verse 28). The meaning is that mankind chose to go their own way, and God allowed it. Granting mankind the freedom to go even further astray was itself a punishment on previous sin.

None of this is to say that everyone with AIDS/HIV is guilty of sexual sin or that homosexuals are beyond redemption. Tragically, some people have been infected with AIDS/HIV by blood transfusions, by innocent contact with another person who has AIDS/HIV, and by being conceived in the womb of a mother who has AIDS/HIV.

The Christian response to AIDS/HIV should always be one of grace and mercy. No matter how a disease was contracted, our responsibility is to be ministers of grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness. We do not have the right or authority to proclaim that the contraction of AIDS/HIV is a specific judgment from God on a specific sin in a person’s life. We have a responsibility to do good to all (Luke 10:29–37), and the gospel we share is still “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).