Over the last few weeks, my Facebook newsfeed has been filled with videos of people doing the Ice Bucket Challenge.
The rules are simple: A participant who has already taken the challenge nominates someone else. Within 24 hours of being challenged, the nominated participant is to record a video of completing the following: First, they are to announce their acceptance of the challenge. Then, a bucket of ice water is to be lifted and poured over the participant’s head. Then the participant calls out a challenge to other people. The participant is expected to donate $10 to the ALS Association if they have poured the ice water over their head, or donate $100 if they have not.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a horrific progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. There is no known cure. Through the Ice Bucket Challenge, millions of dollars have been raised for ALS research.
While I wholeheartedly hope a cure for ALS can be found soon, I have already decided that, if nominated, I will decline the challenge, for a number of reasons.
First, I have a limited budget. I only have a certain amount I can afford to give to charities. Although I agree that ALS is a horrible disease that needs to be cured, there are thousands of other causes competing for the funds in my charitable giving budget. I choose to give to other causes.
Second, there are concerns about my money going to fund research that uses stem cells from aborted babies. According to the Northeast Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Consortium website, at least one clinical trial used stem cells that were engineered from the spinal cord of a single fetus electively aborted after eight weeks of gestation. The tissue was obtained with the mother’s consent. While I absolutely hope and pray for a cure for ALS, I cannot condone nor fund research that involves the murder of an unborn child to obtain stem cells. While I understand that only a small percentage of funds go to such research, and I could probably designate that my money would go to other research, I still find giving to the ALSA to be problematic, especially since there are so many other important causes to support that have nothing to do with embryonic stem cell research.
Lastly, I question the idea of giving to a charitable cause simply because someone dared me to do it. If I give simply because someone calls me out on Facebook, and I have to post a video of myself doing something silly to broadcast my participation, then why am I donating? Is it because I truly care about ALS, or just because I want to show off? From the Sermon on the Mount:
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” Matthew 6:1-4
Jesus warns about giving to charity in order to be seen by others – He calls it hypocrisy. The reason to give is not because someone calls me out on Facebook, and I shouldn’t be showing off by posting a video of myself getting ice water dumped on my head. I should be giving because God has given me the resources to give, and the glory should go to Him, not to me.
Although I have not yet been challenged to do the Ice Bucket Challenge, if I am, I will politely decline. The money I decide to give to charity, I will give privately, not to show off, but to glorify God.
Here’s my challenge to my readers: Pray about what God would have you do to support charitable causes and ministries. Research organizations that follow Godly principles. Seek His will for your giving. Then, obey by giving to those organizations that He lays on your heart. But, do so without bringing attention to yourself. Don’t post a video on Facebook, and don’t tell me, or anyone else, about it. Then, thank God in private that He gave you the resources to be able to help others.