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angry horse

whitewashed sepulchres filled with dead men's bones

I found myself watching PBS Frontline's The Age of AIDS last night. While I was happy to see that some influential Christians were citing Matthew 25:34-40 for much of the apparent motivation for the U.S. to provide funding for free access to anti-retrovirals in developing nations, the longer I watched the program, the angrier I got at those same influential Christians. There is such an appearance of righteousness, but there is not the real love of Christ in their actions. The money came with ideological strings attached: any nation that accepted the money could not use it to help prostitutes and could not support the use of condoms or any education involving them. Instead of the "Christians" actually helping slow or prevent the spread of AIDS, it became clear that they were using the crisis and their money to attempt to manipulate the needy, coerce them into external conformance with a Christian-ish moral code. Which just makes me want to spew. Yay for citing that chunk in Matthew, they did get that right, but why did they ignore Matthew 10:8 and Matthew 18:23-35?! Don't they realize that people's hearts will not be changed by coercion? That the only truly powerful way to love is to love without strings attached? They have done far more to damage the propagation of Christ's message than to share it.


*is also angry*

You can't love with strings attached. There's a sense in which morality should be taught along with AIDS education (because hey, the more you sleep around the higher the risk of infection), but that has to come with respect, not with judgment of this type.
There's nothing wrong with teaching morality, you're right. It's just their requirement that people agree to adopt the morality before they'll be given help. Jesus never did that with people. He healed them without asking them to promise not to sin anymore first. He rescued the woman who was about to be stoned and told her to "Go, and sin no more," but he loved her and helped her, whether or not she agreed to obey his command.
The Talmud says that tzedakah, or charity, falls into a ranking system:

1. The giver doesn't know the receiver and the receiver doesn't know the giver.
2. The receiver knows the giver but the giver doesn't know the receiver.
3. The giver knows the receiver but the receiver doesn't know the giver.
4. The giver and the receiver know each other.
5. The receiver has to beg for the charity.
6. The giver imposes conditions on the charity.

It's still tzedakah -- but it's the lowest form... and it makes me sick.