Christians and the Ice Bucket Challenge

A phenomenon is sweeping social media sites like Facebook. Known as the Ice Bucket Challenge it is an ingenuous attempt to raise both awareness and funds for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) research.

According to the ALS website here’s how it works. The challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness. People can either accept the challenge or make a donation to an ALS Charity of their choice, or do both.

Among my limited number of Facebook friends there have literally been dozens of videos posted showing people dumping ice water over their heads. I do wonder how many people who have participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge have also sent in a donation or do most people interpret this as an either/or situation? Either I douse myself with ice water or I send in a donation. I would love to hear from those who completed the challenge if they also made a donation. Just curious. Some apparently have – keep reading.

Has it worked? According to one website as of Tuesday (Aug. 19), the ALS Association has received $22.9 million in donations since July 29, compared with $1.9 million during the same time period last year. The association has seen 453,210 new donors.

I would have to say it has been successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. I only wish that I had thought of it!

I do have one concern, however, that centers around the policy of the ALS Association as it relates to the use of embryonic stem cells. In reading their website it appears to me that they have no moral objection to using embryonic stem cells in their research. While they admit that using stem cells derived from fertilized embryos less than a week old raises ethical issues, they nowhere reject the use of these stem cells. If this is true then Christians who believe that life begins at conception should have a major issue with the ALS Association and by extension the Ice Bucket Challenge.

While this marketing strategy has been so successful, success does not equal right. If the taking of an innocent life is biblically wrong then it is always wrong regardless of the good it might do.

I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s question in Romans 6, shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? That is, should we sin in order that good might be accomplished? In Paul’s case the good was God’s grace. In the Ice Bucket Challenge the good is the potential medical breakthrough that will save lives. But the answer to both situations must be the same for the Christian – Absolutely not! In the Christian life it is never right to sin in order to achieve right.

There is some indication that a donor to the ALS Association can ask that their donations not be used for research involving embryonic stem cells – and for some people that may be a way to handle this ethical/moral dilemma. However that’s simply robbing Peter to pay Paul. When you choose that option you allow the organization to use your funds to free up other funds for the same research. It doesn’t work, it just makes you feel better.

I suggest that until the ALS Association has a clear policy and rejects the use of research using embryonic stem cells that Christians send their donations elsewhere. There are many worthy causes that do not force you into an ethical/moral dilemma.

The scriptural instruction to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16) is still good advice.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

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3 thoughts on “Christians and the Ice Bucket Challenge

  1. David Willhite says:

    As fun as the Ice Bucket Challenge is, I have to agree. Adult stem cells have actually been shown to work better for many things, and until the ALS Association changes their direction, they are killing babies.

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