Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Positive Marriage

They came from another city. A pastor and his friend with HIV.

The young man had been quite sick some years ago. He was prayed for. He was healed. The doctors had given him less than 6 months to live. He is alive today.

A few months ago the marriage question came up. His relatives from the Northern State he comes from have been asking why he is not married. He has told them that 'something is wrong' with his blood (Khun kharab hai) - but that he is working on it.

In another church that is linked with theirs a man has been said to have been completely cured of HIV. Previously with HIV postive reports - now according to them - with multiple negative reports.

A marriage proposal has come. The family wanted an HIV test done. This man - who we will call Chandra - also believed that he was healed. He went to the government centre and got tested. HIV positive.

Not only that - his CD4 level is about 290 per cubic mm at this point - well below where most people would be started on ART in the west - and close to the level of 250 where the government gives free ART in our amazing country.

Chandra and his pastor came here hoping that we may have contact with HIV positive women who would be willing to marry him.

We spent the afternoon talking.

There are no easy ways out.

One of the questions I had was why Chandra wanted to get married. His basic reason is the social pressure he faces as a young unmarried man.

Below this issue was another one - he has not really told his family in the village about his HIV status. Its not easy as his family is one of status in that area. They think that the main impediment is the Christian faith Chandra has embraced - and are suggesting that it doesn't matter what caste he marries - as long as he 'settles down.' He is hoping that finding someone
with HIV will ease this pressure on him.

I suggested that marriage is not just an act of convenience - and that Chandra needs to be ready to give himself totally to the service of his spouse - rather than expecting 'his needs' to be cared for. When marrying another person with HIV he is also specifically taking on the healing and restoration of many issues of trauma that his spouse has already gone through - most of the single women with HIV we know have already lost their husbands to AIDS or have come out of prostitution. She also will be working to care for His needs for restoration too. Further - they are likely to be specifically caring for each others health needs even more in the future.

And in all of this our marriages are not islands away from the stream. We must include family - that broad sweep of relationships which can sometimes be so challenging to live with - but into which we are embedded - for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health ...

I shared what my good friend John Forbes has often said - the God 'desires truth in the inner parts' (Ps. 51.6) and that Chandra needs to speak truth to his family first. That sharing this is not easy, but can be done together with others. We offered to try and help identify people living near his parents who could go with him.

At the end of a marathon session we parted ways in what I hope was a realistic but hopeful mood. The on-going silent struggle of people living with HIV continues. No easy answers. No quick fix solutions. Precious, precious people in very hard situations.

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