Should Christians do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?


If you have no idea what the Ice bucket challenge is, then this must be your first time on the Internet for over a month. There is no point in describing it in detail other than to say that it involves famous, infamous, and not so famous people throwing ice and ice cold water on themselves and others to raise money for the ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) Association in the United States.

It has been all over the Internet, been filling up Facebook feeds and can be described as nothing short of a miracle for the amount of money it has raised for this non-profit organisation. 

It is silly. It is pointless. It is ridiculous. And I love it. Along with millions of other people I have laughed, cried, been amused, shocked and amazed by the fun and frivolity of it all, but just recently I have seen more and more backlash to the craze.

While there has been some opposition to it by animal rights activist such as Pamela Anderson on the basis that the ALS association fund research on animals, and others think it does nothing more than "help those participating feel very good about themselves and all the good goodness they're doing”, many of the objections have come from Christians. 

So without going into further detail of it all, this post aims to highlight three current Christian objections and answer the question of whether Christians should participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

A moral objection

Several pro-life groups in America along with the Catholic Church in Cincinnati have expressed concern that the ALS association supports and conducts research using embryonic stem cells. There is not enough space to go into the complex issue of the use and abuse of embryonic stem cells, however if this claim is true, even in part, it makes it difficult for a Christian to continue to support them. While it is fantastic to raise awareness of the disease, and to fund research for a cure, or to prevent or ease the condition, it can never be right to destroy human life in an attempt to save human life.

Solution: Put a condition on your donation that it is only going to awareness campaigns or only to research that doesn't involve embryonic stem cells. Or if you still feel uneasy about it, why not donate to a different organisation or charity all together.

A theological objection


The following image has been used to make the point that we should always be careful what our motives are. Doing good just so others can see is not really good at all. Of course while it still raises the money and the organisation would be happy to accept your money whether you have told one person, a million people or no-one at all, if it is done to please others, there will be no reward from God.

Solution: If this really bothers you, why not do the ice challenge by yourself, or in secret (although it probably would never have gone viral if everyone had done it this way). As one of our Twitter followers Tobi suggested there is nothing stopping you from doing other good deeds in secret, while participating in this one in public - there is room for both.

A financial objection

This is the easiest to explain as any donation you give to one organisation is money that you are not giving to another organisation. If you only have a certain amount of money to give away, then it is important to allocate it properly. God calls us to be good stewards with our resources.

Solution: Be generous but be wise with your money. If you have already allocated money to another organisation, don't take it away from that cause in order to give it to this cause. Always prayerfully work out where and to whom your money is going, but always be generous.

Conclusion

While there are probably many more objections to the ice bucket challenge than these three, there is a final problem I want to raise. The ice bucket challenge is of course silly and ridiculous, but in the midst of a world wide craze which involves people having fun, being generous and encouraging others to be generous, do Christians really want to be the ones to stop the fun, to raise the objections, to highlight the problems and to live up to the stereotype of being negative anti everything critics?

Our entire site and goal here at Christian Funny Pictures is to laugh not AT Christians but AS Christians and to prove that laughter and Christianity are not incompatible. Any attempt to bring fun, laughter, and silliness to this sad and broken world should be encouraged not discouraged.

What do you think? Have you done the ice bucket challenge? Do you know of any other objections? How should Christians respond?

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Is there a gay gene?


Last week in Australia a conservative Christian school chaplain was sacked for agreeing with and posting a quote on Facebook by a liberal lesbian activist. Feel free to read that sentence again to try and understand this very unusual situation, before reading on to find out what actually happened and the details of this truly bizarre news story. 

Troy Williams, a public school Chaplain in Tasmania, Australia, posted on Facebook the picture below.




He did not comment on it, he did not like it, he did not do anything with the picture other than 'share' it on Facebook. The post caused quite a stir in the gay community, so much so that Scripture Union, Mr Williams' employer, suspended him pending investigation. Mr Williams apologised for his 'inappropriate use' of the Internet and things almost went back to normal, until he actually did make a reference to the picture on an entirely separate website (namely Bill Muehlenberg’s “culturewatch” blog) in which he said among other things on the topic: 


“I am happy (and brave enough) to field any questions your bloggers may have. Please pray with me that this may become another opportunity for the Gospel to go out.
 Troy” 

He then wrote the following (which is the real clanger in the debate): 


“I will probably be fired from both these jobs for encouraging young people in that they have a choice in who they are and that they shouldn’t be bullied by someone telling them their lot is predetermined (by someone other than God)”. 

He was then sacked. Apparently not for sharing the picture, and not for the comments that he made, nor that they were made on another blog, but for a breach of contract. Scripture Union claimed that he was sacked because while an investigation was being carried out for one particular action (his alleged inappropriate use of the Internet by sharing a picture), he repeated the very same action (an inappropriate use of the Internet by commenting on another blog). 

I have struggled to understand the logic of the last part of this decision, because to my mind if someone does something which turns out not to be wrong, does it matter whether the person did the 'not wrong' thing once or twice or ten times? 

In any event, he was sacked, and regardless of whatever you think of the details of this story, it leads to the the very interesting issue that has almost been entirely missed in the reports, namely the actual content of the picture Mr Williams shared on Facebook. It quite 'naturally' leads to the question which is the heading of this post - Is there a gay gene? 

Before you immediately dismiss me as some sort of uninformed Christian bigot or assume what I am about to say, please note that while I do not claim to be an expert on the subject I do hold a Science degree, majoring in genetics, which I completed before I was a Christian. However, my thinking in relation to the issue of a gay gene changed very little when I became a Christian (so any bias you think I may have exists regardless of my status as a Christian). Perhaps you find this surprising, but here's why. 

When I studied genetics at university, Richard Dawkins (who was and is no friend to Christianity) was a leading academic figure who was often cited, quoted, and referred to for the quality of his genetic research and general scholarship in the field of genetics. He was virtually unheard of outside the science world, and I read many of his papers and books with pleasure, (at that time he had not ventured into any of his more shallow and popularist works on theology). It was pure theoretical writings on genetics that I found fascinating, again not because I agreed with it all, but his scholarship and writing were in my view brilliant. 

In particular I remember reading one of his most famous books "The Selfish Gene", and loved a fascinating chapter on a newly coined term, namely 'memes', the idea that ideas could replicate and spread through human communities (the word has proved itself, with entire websites now devoted to nothing but memes such as Grumpy Cat, Gangnam Style and LOLcats). 

I also remember pondering over the main thesis of the book, namely that the genes that get passed on are the ones whose evolutionary consequences serve their own implicit (selfish) interests (that is to continue being replicated), not necessarily those of the organism. Perhaps ironically, the book specifically excludes commentary on the idea of a 'selfishness gene', but focuses on how altruism can be explained at an individual level, primarily because the book looks at the gene centred view (as opposed to the organism or group centred view). 

While I don't want to get into the idea of evolution as a whole, theistic or otherwise, the book raises some fascinating ideas about whether altruism could be genetic, but leaves the reader wondering about the possibility of there being a selfish(ness) gene (at least that's where it left me). 

What if there is such a thing as a selfish gene or even an altruistic gene? Are some people pre-disposed to be altruistic and others selfish? Would the presence or absence of either gene allow or excuse our behaviour? Is our lot pre-determined by something other than God? (or by the way God has created our genetics?) 

However, here is (and was) my thinking on the matter: 

  • If there is such a thing as a selfish gene, that would still not excuse our behaviour, nor should it encourage us to be more selfish than what we already are, nor is it something to aim for, or a goal for our society or for individuals to achieve - to be the most selfish within a selfish community. 
  • If there is no such thing as a selfish gene, how do we explain the fact that selfishness exists in each and every community known to man (and God), or the fact that there is so much selfishness around. In this situation, it is even less of a goal, and by no means should people be encouraged to embrace their selfishness. 

Here is the controversial part of this post. Go back to the last two paragraphs and replace the idea of a selfish gene with the idea of a gay gene. Whether there is or there isn't a gay gene in my view says absolutely nothing about whether it excuses behaviour, is conduct to be encouraged, makes anything more or less moral other than some people may be predisposed to it more than others. Even Dawkins pointed out that he is only describing how things are under his view of evolution, not endorsing them as morally good. 

Therefore, in the same way the fact that some people are more pre-disposed to having diabetes, or putting on weight, or being taller, or running faster, or being more violent, or insert any characteristic that has a genetic disposition, says absolutely nothing about the morality of such an action, but simply what some people may be more or less likely to do (assuming the characteristic has a genetic component). 

So why is this being posted on a site called Christian Funny Pictures. Because I, like everybody else in the world, from time to time, enjoy a good rant and a rave. But also because I find the following idea not only funny, but also hilarious and completely ludicrous - it is an inappropriate use of the Internet for a conservative Christian chaplain to share the view of a liberal gay activist on an issue that perhaps makes no difference morally to an issue of whether someone's genetics may or may not make them more or less likely to act in a particular way. 

Is there a gay gene? I have no idea but in my view whether there is or there isn't, makes, or should make, no difference to the debate and discussion that is so desperately need on this topic. 

What do you think? Do you dare to leave a comment below? Or have you been silenced in the name of tolerance as well?





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Haters gonna hate ... Proverbs 9:8



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