The Ice Bucket Challenge is so popular in our country that it has been featured almost consistently during the nightly news. It has been all over the Internet and social media. Both small and great, the famous and not famous, old and young, men and women have been doing this for the sake of ALS patients. However, with its undeniable popularity, some people started to question the morality of this challenge. At the surface, there’s no doubt that the Ice Bucket Challenge is something that every Christian should do. After all, it is for a noble cause. I’ve read blogs questioning the morality of this challenge and other blogs that say it is okay for a Christian to do it. So what is the truth? In this post, let us go through the two sides of the coin and see whether Ice Bucket Challenge is moral or not.
Abortion and Ice Bucket Challenge
The greatest moral issue with Ice Bucket Challenge is that it supports the study of embryonic stem cells to find a cure for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). The ALS Association has made this statement in one of their press releases dated August 26, 2014:
“The ALS Association’s vision is to create a world without ALS. To that end The Association is committed to leaving no stone unturned in the quest to discover effective treatments and a cure for Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
The Association believes that stem cell research is an evolving field that holds the potential to provide benefit to people with ALS in the future…
The ALS Association primarily funds adult stem cell research. Currently, The Association is funding one study using embryonic stem cells (ESC), and the stem cell line was established many years ago under ethical guidelines set by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS); this research is funded by one specific donor, who is committed to this area of research. In fact, donors may stipulate that their funds not be invested in this study or any stem cell project.”
There’s no question that the ALS Association supports embryonic stem cells. To obtain the embryonic stem cells, the human embryo at an early stage should be destroyed. The whole process of obtaining stem cells from the embryo is in effect, a form of abortion. The embryo, which obviously has life already, is denied of its right to develop and grow into a viable baby. Its potential to be a person is prevented through the research of embryonic stem cell.
The Bible tells us:
“For you formed my inward parts; you KNITTED me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them (Psalm 139:13-16).” (ESV)
“Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:4-5). (ESV)
Animal Testing and the ALS Association
Another controversy that the ALS Association is involved with is the animal testing. While I personally don’t know whether they really are doing it or they have done it in the past, the Bible certainly has something to say with how we should treat animals.
“Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel” (Proverbs 12:10).
Some animal activists claim that ALS association made or supported animal testing even until now. Assuming that animal testing is really done with ALS research, I believe this can be a poor method of finding cure. The ALS is a complex disorder and recreating the disease and finding cure with the use of mice or monkeys will lead to little or no significant discoveries. This might be the main reason why until now, after decades of research, ALS Association has not yet found the cure. They are looking at the wrong place.
Ice Bucket Challenge: a waste of water?
There are drought-stricken areas in the United States especially in California. Some people see the challenge as a waste of water and it is likely that it only encourages the mentality of wastefulness.
In defense of the Ice Bucket Challenge
Some advocates of Ice Bucket Challenge say that it will be hypocritical to accept the challenge in the grounds that ALS Association support embryonic stem cells. They say that if you are going to avoid donating to ALS Association merely because they support abortion, then the same people should also stop using products from big companies who tolerate abortion.
These companies include American Express, Lincoln National Bank, Wyeth, Corel, Pittway, Prudential Insurance, Esprit, Subaru of America, Syntex Pharmaceuticals, Dayton Hudson Stores, and many others. You might also consider not buying products from companies whose owners are atheists like Microsoft.
This fact just made the moral issue more complicated. So what should you do as a Christian? If you want to be consistent, then you need not to just avoid the Ice Bucket Challenge, but also the products of these companies who support abortion.
In addition to this, the ALS Association claims that you can specify how your money can be used. So if you don’t want your money to be used for embryonic stem cell, but to the other form of ALS research, then you can gladly do so.
Conclusion: should a Christian accept the Ice Bucket Challenge?
Personally, my answer is NO. Here are my reasons.
We should not let other people know our charitable deeds. The Ice Bucket Challenge is like a trumpet that you blow to show people that you are donating money for the ALS Association. In addition to this, most people post their videos on the Internet for the whole world to see.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others.
Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4).
The end does not justify the means. Though you can still choose how ALS Association will spend your donated money, the money will still support the ALS Association nonetheless. Seeking to save life by destroying another’s life is contradictory. The same goes with doing embryonic stem cell research. Killing human beings for the sake of other human being is barbaric.
Thankfully, there are other foundations or organizations that do ALS research without doing embryonic stem cell. The John Paul II Medical Research Institute is one example. They support ALS research with respect to human life.
ALS is a rare disease. My heart goes out for all those people who are inflicted with ALS. For the record; I don’t see any reason to prevent a person from helping people with ALS in any way. However, epidemiologically speaking, ALS is rather rare. It is estimated that only 1 or 2 out of 100,000 people develop this disease each year.
Methinks, that the Ice Bucket Challenge diverts our attention from the more prevalent diseases or problems plaguing our society. There are other diseases that urgently need our attention and support. Yes, ALS is real, but other diseases are much more widespread and we need to prioritize the good of the general public instead of just the few.
I will not do the challenge if ever someone will nominate me. Rather, I would like to challenge every person to make a stand against abortion. This man-made “disease” has killed millions of people each year – far from what any disease, including ALS – has accomplished. In a worldwide scale, there are about 46 million babies being aborted. Our world has been so accustomed to this diabolical menace that no one is bothered anymore of its existence in our society.
Sadly, this world will not see an end to diseases, plagues, famines, wars, and human suffering – unless divine intervention is made. Utopia and worldwide abundance will never be achieved through human effort. It is only through God’s establishment of His Kingdom here on earth will this world be free of all forms of suffering – including ALS. May God speed that day!
Post Note: I know this is a controversial topic and some of you might not agree with what I wrote. I would gladly want to hear from you. Speak your mind by leaving a comment below. Moreover, if you like what you read, please share this with your friends.