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Rick Warren is an evangelical leader, best-selling author, and founding and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California. Along with his wife, Kay, Warren founded Saddleback in 1980 with[…]

Warren does not believe so.

Question: Is AIDS a punishment for homosexuality?


Rick Warren: I certainly don’t believe that AIDS is a punishment for homosexuality.

Sin can definitely cause sickness. I mean, if I eat too many hamburgers and I have a heart attack, well I’m not blaming God for that. I mean, it was my own choice, and there is no doubt about it. Lifestyle choices in all of us can give us stress, backaches, headaches, and venereal diseases, STDs, all kinds of things like that. Lifestyle choices cause things.

The problem with AIDS is, the church did not see it soon enough. And we had to repent of this. My wife has talked about this openly and so have I. I did not understand how big the issue was. I just thought, “Oh yeah! That’s a disease out there. But isn’t that just with gays? You know people who have a homosexual lifestyle?”

And my thought on that was that’s a small percentage of the population. I need to be working on malaria. Five hundred million people have malaria, okay, ever year. If I’m going to work on something, let me work on something that has a big; you know, 500 million people.

On the other hand, it didn’t matter whether only gays had it or not. They still need compassion. And our view is if you’re driving down the street and somebody’s dying on the side of the road and they’re bleeding to death from an accident, you walk up to ‘em and your first question to ‘em isn’t, “Was it your fault?” Your question is, “Can I help you?”

It doesn’t matter if they’re Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim, or Democrat, or Republican, or gay or straight. You just help them. They’re a human being in need.

And the other thing I’ve gotten criticized for is working with other people who don’t believe, as I do, to help people who had AIDS. And so if I find somebody who is sick on the side of the road and I can’t get ‘em in the car to get them to the hospital, I’m not going to ask if somebody comes over and offers to help, “Are you Muslim? Are you Jewish? Are you gay? Are you Christian? Are you anything?” I’m going to say, “Can you help me?” And if they partner with me to help get that guy to the hospital, that’s a good thing.

And so we must always show compassion to people with illness. Jesus Christ cared for the sick. In fact He hung out with the people who had AIDS of His day. It was called leprosy. The AIDS of the first century was leprosy. People were afraid of AIDS; afraid of leprosy. They didn’t know how you could get it. And that’s the way it was in the early ‘80s.

Remember I grew up in San Francisco in the early days. It was before AIDS, but the people didn’t know how you could get it so they were scared. It was all kinds of superstitions, and I call it A-I-D-S. It was avoidance, intolerance -- I can’t remember what it is. And the S was suspicion or superstition.


Recorded on: December 11, 2007


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