Staying warm and dry

August 26, 2014 at 9:31 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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I’ve seen a lot of stuff on the ice bucket challenge and I posted something on Facebook about it the other day. Over the weekend, I thought about it more and, because of this, I won’t be participating in the ice bucket challenge. There are a few reasons that have led me to this decision, but it’s one in particular; and one that I haven’t heard given by most who opt out of the challenge.

The purpose of the challenge is to “raise awareness” and money for ALS research. The structure of the challenge is basically this: I do the challenge and nominate any number of people to do it. These people have 24 hours to complete the challenge. If they do, they donate $20 to ALS research. If they fail/refuse, they are to pay $100 to ALS research. I don’t understand this. The point of the challenge is to raise awareness and money for ALS. If I don’t do the challenge I’ll raise less awareness (maybe) but I’ll give 5 TIMES more money. I’m sure I’m missing something here, but I don’t know what it is yet. I understand the reasoning and purpose, but I have to ask why? I understand that there are times when certain diseases are more in the forefront of the public, but is there a large number of people that don’t know about ALS? There have been numerous high-profile people that have had ALS including the man that the disease takes its name from – Lou Gehrig. As I said, the raising of awareness is a great idea, but I didn’t need it. I know about ALS and I know friends and family members that have been affected by the disease. How many people have actually been made aware of ALS?

The challenge is a great viral marketing stunt and it has raised a lot of money, but how much awareness has it raised? I can’t recall of any ice bucket challenge video that I’ve seen that actually talks about ALS other than to say that the person is doing the challenge and who they’re challenging. How many of these same people actually know what ALS is now? I would be interested to find out but I don’t think that would be reliably measurable. I guess there is a large amount of faith and hope that the people that donate will stop long enough to actually learn about the debilitating disease that they’re trying to help eradicate…Maybe.

This leads me to something that is far too common these days. Social media has trained entire generations to go with the flow and do what’s popular on different social media sites. While there are more mild things that have gone viral, I have to say the challenge is one of the better ones. There’s the cinnamon challenge, the “light yourself on fire” challenge, the saltine cracker challenge, the milk challenge, the condom challenge, and Nekonomination. All of these things have become viral social media challenges. They have been done by thousands of people who accept the challenge and then videotape themselves participating in the challenge and then posting it to Youtube and their social media accounts. Some of these challenges have even caused the death of participants. Why do it? Why are so many people doing these things? For attention. They are fads and allow the person to get attention in a good or bad way. Either way, people see them on Youtube and comment and their 15 seconds of fame (it used to be fifteen minutes, but that’s too long for today’s crowd) is won. I will honestly admit that I don’t know the heart of everyone that does the ice bucket challenge. I’ll even go a step further and say that many of those that have done the challenge have done so with good intentions in mind and didn’t care about the attention they got from participating. But, could we at least agree that there are many out there that are doing it for just this reason? I believe the numbers allow for this. Here’s just one example for your enjoyment: Yes, this really happened…

Now, let’s move on to the more important reasons.

It has been reported that the money for ALS research goes to some experiments using embryonic stem cells (ESC). These are the cells of embryos and are often gathered from aborted babies. As a Christian, I can’t support anything like this, no matter how good the charity or important the research. I have read that the ESCs are only being used in one line of tests/experiments and that there are other sponsors that don’t use EBCs. The problem is that ALS has already said that they are open to doing more with EBCs in the future. How do I know that the money that I give isn’t going to that, or won’t in the future? I don’t. And the thought of giving money to support research using EBCs is something that goes against both my faith and my conscience.

I’ve heard all of the above at least a few times and with differing degrees of argument/discussion. However, there is one discussion that I really haven’t seen. I consider myself a fundamentalist Christian (in the historical sense and not the derogatory sense used today). What this means is that I believe in the 5 solas of the Protestant Reformation. I believe that the Bible is inerrant, infallible, and inspired by God. I believe it to be the ultimate authority for the life and faith of a Christian. Because of this, it sets the boundaries for my life and provides the wisdom and instruction I need for “every good work”. In Matthew 6, Jesus is in the middle of His Sermon on the Mount. He has instructed the disciples in the character that they should have as His followers. He has illustrated this through the Beatitudes and His explanation of the finer points of the Law. He now transitions to a comparison between His disciples and the Pharisees. In Matthew 6: 1-4, Jesus says:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Mat 6:1-4 NASB)

Here, Jesus shows how the Pharisees do the things they do (give, fast, pray) in order to receive praise/accolades/attention for their actions. Jesus contrasts this with the way His followers are to be. They’re to give/fast/pray in secret. It’s important that you understand that I’m not saying that every Christian who does the ice bucket challenge is acting like the Pharisees and doing it to get attention, etc. What I am saying is that it is a public declaration of giving. If one does the ice bucket challenge, they are saying that they gave at least $20 to ALS research and are “challenging” you to do the same. Is this necessary? Do I have to put up a short video of me getting ice and cold water dumped on my while challenging others in order to give to ALS (or any other form of) research? Nope. I don’t have to even let others know what I give to, how much, or when. And that’s the point. The scriptures talk about Christians being known for their love and by their deeds. They are known for the sacrifices they make. And, they are known for living lives that adhere to scripture and its teachings. This may just be a conscience thing, but I hope that it provides something to think about….

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