Truth and Love

Two years ago, Sue Seel learned that her brother Richard was dying of AIDS. Sue hadn't even known he was a homosexual. Deciding how to respond to Richard proved to be the biggest spiritual challenge she had ever faced.   The first time Sue flew to San Francisco to see Richard, he met her in a public place. He wouldn't even invite her into his home. Still, she continued to see him every few months, little by little learning what life is like in a gay subculture. The homosexual communities of the 1990s are sad, sordid places, overcast by death and despair. Virtually everyone there has watched friends die from AIDS--and knows that eventually they will succumb to the disease as well. One might expect people in such deep need to be ripe for the gospel. But Sue discovered an intense, pervasive hostility among homosexuals against the Christian faith. They know only too well that the Bible condemns "The Lifestyle," as they call it. As Richard become more and more ill, Sue was haunted by a decision she knew she would one day have to make. There would come a day when Richard would be too ill to care for himself. What should she do when that happened? Should she care for him in San Francisco. That would mean being separated from her husband and children? Or should she bring him to her own home? Sue agonized over the question. If she did bring an AIDS patient into her home, how would her friends react? What would the neighbors say? Would her children be teased or ostracized? Sue sought the advice of Christian groups that work with AIDS patients. Finally, she and her family decided they would care for Richard in their home. The day came when Sue flew her brother home from San Francisco. For Richard, it was a whole new world. Sue's two boys played on the floor around his bed and read stories to him at night. Neighborhood children came over to play. Church friends dropped by to welcome him and pray with him. In the last few weeks of his life, Richard was surrounded by a living testimony of God's love. Before he died, Richard committed his life to the Lord. His favorite verse was, "in His presence there is fullness of joy"--the words that are now etched on his gravestone. As Christians, we often find it difficult to respond to the AIDS epidemic in the spirit of Paul's injunction in Ephesians: to "speak the truth in love." We find it hard to achieve a real balance between the two. Our culture preaches love--but equates love with tolerance, with passing out moral blank checks. As Christians we know that love sometimes means telling people they are wrong, that they are violating God's law. But the question is, How can we couch that kind of hard truth in concrete demonstrations of love? Through his sister, Richard had the opportunity to learn of a God who hates sin but loves the sinner. Thousands of Richards live in San Francisco, in Key West, in New York City. How many Sues are there, willing to enter their world and convey God's truth and God's love?


Chuck Colson



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