So, Charlie Sheen announced he’s HIV positive.
My first reaction when I read the headline was big yawn. Mr Sheen has bragged about his sexual promiscuity. He’s made millions playing characters that are a watered-down version of his real-life self. Add to that his equally well-known problems with alcoholism and drug addiction and, well, big yawn.
His life is like a walking how-to video on how to contract STDs and trash your health. The fact that he’s contracted the HIV virus is no big whoop to me.
I was flummoxed as to why this was such big news. Then, I watched a YouTube video of his “confession,” and I saw why. This poor man has been hiding in shame from his HIV status. According to his statements, he’s allowed himself to be blackmailed to the tune of millions of dollars in an attempt to hide the truth.
After watching the video, I, as usual, felt sorry for Charlie Sheen. His demons are terrible ones. He is afflicted with the ubiquitous plague of drugs, alcohol and dissolute living, which is a recipe for self-destruction. It also seems that he’s — for some reason — burdened with crippling shame because he’s infected with a virus that is often transmitted through sexual contact.
That might make sense if he was a monk who had been pretending to be celibate and got his lies found out. But Charlie Sheen brags about his “goddesses.” His wildly self-destructive self has been on every media outlet, flaunting the delusions and insanity of alcoholism and drug addiction. STDs, including HIV, are not a big reveal where Charlie Sheen is concerned. They are the logical next step in his life path.
His shame makes no sense to me, but I believe him when talks about it. There are a few rational reasons why he would do this, including the fact that playing a guy who sleeps around in sleazy situation comedies is a lot less palatable when viewers know the actor playing the part has HIV.
HIV puts a big damper on the notion that recreational sex is without consequences. Charlie Sheen has become, with one simple confession, an example of this fact.
But that is a business issue. I don’t see how it would cause the shame he says he’s experienced. Maybe that comes from the way that HIV is often misconstrued to be what it is not. It is not God’s judgement. It is a virus whose method of transmission is bodily fluids. It is found in high concentration in two bodily fluids: seminal fluid and blood.
Sex between gay men involves activities that are destructive to delicate body tissues. That leads to bleeding, which creates a pathway for transmission of the HIV virus. This makes sexually active gay men particularly susceptible to the illness.
Perhaps that is the source of the Charlie Sheen’s shame. HIV infection occurs in such high numbers among sexually active gay men that it has become a “gay disease” in the public imagination. But the truth is, any exchange of bodily fluids with an infected person is risky.
Mr Sheen says that he doesn’t know how he became infected. Given his drinking, drugging, sleeping with goddesses background, I can see that he might be a bit vague on the specifics of how he was infected.
The point to me is twofold. First, HIV is a virus. It, in itself, is morally neutral. Being infected with HIV may or may not signify a destructive lifestyle such as Mr Sheen’s. But it is just an infection with a virus. We need to treat it that way and skip the histrionics.
People do stupid things. All people, including me, do stupid things. Most of the time, we get away with it. But once in a while, we don’t. A life-long infection with HIV is a big example of not getting away with it.
There’s a new myth going around about HIV infection. The myth claims that it’s now a chronic illness and no big deal. That is not true. HIV infection is miserable, even if it doesn’t kill you.
Which leads me to my other point. Drug addiction, alcoholism and sexual promiscuity are all ways to live stupid. They destroy their victims psychologically, spiritually and socially long before they kill them. The collateral damage to families, children in particular, is lifelong and generational.
Only Jesus Christ can heal wounds this deep. He can, through His mercy, even turn them to good.
I have a great deal of sympathy for Charlie Sheen and others like him. I hope that this public admission opens him up to genuine healing. I hope it brings him home to Jesus.
Charlie Sheen needs what we all need: The peace and forgiveness of Christ.