If you haven’t been asked, get ready – you probably will. Splashed over magazine covers and the Internet is not only the inescapable face of Prince but the understandable question, “What caused his death?”
Now screaming at us from news stands and checkout lines across America is the headline: “AIDS KILLED PRINCE!” Should we dismiss this with skepticism or is this report trustworthy?
The National Enquirer features this cover story this week. England’s Mirror heralds the same. Previously, two American websites posted days before his death, “We just received word that a very popular African-American celebrity – who has recently been in the news – now has what is being described as AIDS.”
Before anyone quickly dismisses the National Enquirer story as “rag journalism,” remember they’ve run many accurate reports amidst the usual kooky ones. And we will have to be patient since there is nothing definitive at this point, since it will be weeks before anything official is disclosed.
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Enquirer’s Accurate Stories
* M. Jackson – 6 months to live
* Charlie Sheen HIV/AIDS
* Tiger’s affairs/sex addiction
* John Edward’s adultery
* CBS’s Steve Kroft’s affair
* Jesse Jackson’s “love child”
* Limbaugh’s OxyContin habit
* Hulk Hogan’s racial rants
* Steve Job sick and dying
* Sen. Gary Hart’s affair
* OJ’s Bruno Maglis shoes
* Cosby’s sexual assaults
* M. Gibson/B. Joel divorces
Prince was a skeletal 80 pounds at death, cremated quickly and told a crowd days before, “Wait a few days before you waste any prayers.” The investigation into his death is now a “criminal probe” meaning authorities can legally suppress information.
When there is an untimely and tragic death, we should pray for family and friends. We should also be sensitive, using wisdom to withhold comments for a season to allow people time to reflect and grieve.
Job’s friends were silent for seven days before they spoke. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a “time to weep… mourn… keep silence, and a time to speak.” Premature comments may prove hurtful and do more harm than good.
But now people are asking the question which is legitimate. And if AIDS is a factor, how should we handle it in a responsible and charitable way.
The Sad Reality of AIDS
Certain words cause us to feel uncomfortable: Cancer, IRS, terminal, Hell and AIDS. It’s understandable to prefer avoidance.
Also, none of us want to engage in tale bearing, gossip or spreading rumors. Yet HIV/AIDS is a now a “sexual revolution” reality and increasingly a possibility amidst our LGBT-friendly culture. Besides Charlie Sheen, Greg Lougonis, Magic Johnson and others living HIV – positive, recall the many celebrities killed by this deadly disease which is primarily sexually transmitted.
* Rock Hudson
* Freddie Mercury
* Anthony Perkins
* Perry Ellis
* Rudolf Nureyev
* Peter Allen
* Easy E
* Robert Reed
* Pedro Zamora
* Gia Carangi
* Max Robinson and too many others to mention.
Over 36 million people (roughly the population of California) have died of AIDS since 1981. In 1994, AIDS became the leading cause of death among Americans aged 25 to 44. Sixty percent of young Americans who have HIV today are unaware they’re infected.
Star magazine in its current issue said the following concerning Prince’s final hours: “He was spotted outside of Walgreens in his neighborhood. Eyewitnesses said, ‘He looked terrible, tired and ill, and seemed to be having trouble walking.’ ”
My heart aches having to write this plus fathom the possibility he may have been HIV infected.
I cared for and subsequently officiated at the funeral of my friend, John, a former gay man transformed by Christ’s love, yet destroyed by AIDS. I spoke, as he requested, to his gay and lesbian friends and his young daughter at the tearful memorial service.
I include this so you understand I care deeply and when I cite the possibility of Prince’s death from AIDS, I sincerely hope it’s not true.
Yet we need to be prepared how to answer people when a conversation surfaces about this subject (I was just asked hours ago!).
Divine appointments with inquiring people afford us the opportunity to display Christ’s compassion, share gospel truth and possibly rescue people from deception, devastation and premature death.
Amidst all the hoopla today about “coming out” and celebrating homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderism and gay marriage, make no mistake about it, people are dying and suffering debilitating diseases and committing suicide because of ignorance and misinformation here. We’re not “bigots” nor “homophobic” when we lovingly try to warn people about high-risk sexual behavior and premature death reaped through LGBT involvement.
This week’s Time magazine has its annual “100 Most Influential People ” issue. It honors celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner, Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicki Minaj, Melissa McCarthy and Charlize Theron who support and influence millions of impressionable young people regarding the “legitimacy” and “beauty” of the LGBT lifestyle.
Why then is it hateful and judgmental when we love, warn and remind those we can influence to God’s unchanging standards for sexuality, marriage and family?
I encourage everyone to watch the immediately accessible, brief and compelling videos on this theme in the “Bullseye Challenge.” AIDS, Gays and STD’s are especially relevant here. In addition there are 29 other hot button themes addressed along with the “Bullseye” book available on this site from Amazon.com.
3 Tips for Charitable Dialogue on Prince and Possible AIDS
1. Pray for wisdom in addressing people winsomely, commiserate and honor the incredible giftedness God bestowed upon Prince, in spite of his obvious flaws and questionable lifestyle choices.
2. Be a good listener while skillfully and confidently sharing God’s desire for relationship with us, plus His plan for humanity and sexuality (obviously different than Prince expressed in songs like, “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Hot Thing,” “Irresistible Bxxxx” or the activity celebrated in “Little Red Corvette!”).
3. Share the gospel and your personal testimony of how your life was changed through a personal relationship with Jesus, the “Prince of Peace.”
The artist Prince has passed on into eternity. There is a chance we may never discover what eventually took his life. But in the meantime, with this controversy and story continuing to dominate news, we have a tremendous opportunity to be ambassadors of love and truth to people caught in the fog of the “Purple Rain.”
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.