An Apology for and Defense of My ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Sorry, not sorry.

I typically coach individuals and couples to practice making apologies without attaching any defense or explanation of their behavior. Even if “Joe” believes he has a really good reason for what he said, sharing that reason along with his apology to “Jane” will severely limit the apology’s effectiveness.

But man-made rules, like this one, always have exceptions. I’m claiming this to be one of those exceptions. I took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and I feel I need to make an apology and offer a defense for my participation.

The Apology

ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is a terrible, progressive disease affecting the motor neurons from the brain through the spinal cords and to the muscles of the body. Those afflicted with ALS lose control of their muscles, and many eventually are completely paralyzed. The progression of the disease leads to death.

Raising awareness of this disease is a noble and worthy endeavor. We should pray for a cure and look for ways to support and encourage those suffering from ALS. That said, the ALS Association conducts research using stem cells, both adult and embryonic.

I’m pro-life. And I’m pro-life of the variety that many would label “extreme.” What I mean is that I don’t believe abortion is moral or ethical, and I do believe that it should be illegal. I do not believe in exceptions in cases of rape or incest. I believe that human life is sacred, and I believe it begins at conceptions. And for these reasons, and because it involves the destruction of a human embryo, I am morally opposed to embryonic stem cell research. (Click here to learn more about embryonic stem cell research.)

I want to apologize for taking taking the Ice Bucket Challenge without researching ALSA and their research, which I cannot do in good conscience. I was caught up in a moment of getting to pair fun with a good cause. Thankfully, before making a monetary donation, I heard about this organization that supports those with ALS without destroying human life.

The thought of me contributing to the destruction of human life makes me sick. And especially as a leader of the church, I have a responsibility to be clear on these matters. For any ambiguity and uncertainty on the matter, I apology and hope I’ve made myself clear.

The Defense

(Just a note: I actually think the graphic here is funny! I have friends who posted it on Facebook. I’m not talking about you!)

What I am not sorry for is participating in an admittedly faddish and fun way of raising awareness about Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I’ve been really discouraged by seeing some Christians on Facebook be so snooty and stuck up about it.

I’ve seen many charges: “You’re wasting water!”; “Other illnesses, like Alzheimer’s or diabetes, affect many more people than ALS does!”; or, most irritating to me, “Where’s the gospel in that?”

If you’re complaining about a buckets of water being wasted, I hope that you turn off the facet while brushing your teeth, limit your showers to 3 minutes, and don’t flush after doing number one.

Sure, more people have other diseases, but that doesn’t lessen the suffering of people with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I pray that raising awareness will inspire more people to join in research efforts, and perhaps some pro-lifers will learn about the ALSA’s research and decide to do their own research that doesn’t include embryonic stem cell destruction.

What really ticks me off is the charge that it is wrong to participate because “there’s no gospel in that.” God cares about this world, all of it. He loves his creation, all of it. When God looked over all he made, he delighted in it and called it “good” (Gen. 1). This is a God who cares about the grass of the field and the smallest sparrow (Matt. 6). And he hears the groaning of a creation in bondage to sin (Rom. 8). ALS, and every other sickness, is the result of sin in this world, an echo of the Fall, a manifestation of the severe consequences of rejecting God and his glory.

Jesus died to purchase the New Covenant, which includes the redemption of this world. One day he will come again and make all things new, and ALS and Alzheimer’s and diabetes and every other devastating illness will be destroyed forever, along with death, and Christ will reign as ever-living King of kings.

Jesus cares about people, body and soul. When he walked this earth, he was condemned for having too much fun as he loved people. Jesus said, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” (Matthew 11:19). Those Pharisees couldn’t stand all the fun Jesus was having with those “sinners.”

When Christians look down on people for having good, clean fun, they aren’t being Christlike. The Bible tells us, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). It’s good to have fun, to laugh.

So for laughing at people, and being laughed at, in an effort to raise awareness of something that affect myriad lives, I am not sorry. In case you haven’t seen it, enjoy…

My Ice Bucket Challenge!


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