Ice Water and Ethics

A friend of mine challenged me to do the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” yesterday. According to the rules of this challenge, I am supposed to do one of two things in the next 24 hours: either I donate $100 to the ALS Foundation, or I donate $10 to the ALS Foundation and dump a bucket of ice water on my head.

I am doing neither.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a horrible degenerative disease that paralyzes its victims. I support the drive to find a cure. I would love for there to be a time in the near future when we look at ALS as we now look at measles and polio: largely a thing of the past. So if this disease is so horrible, and I am desirous of a cure, why am I not supporting the ALS foundation?

It’s simple: the ALS foundation is willing to kill people to find a cure.

Let me envision a fictional scenario for you. It’s ten years from now. My wife has been diagnosed with ALS. A man knocks on my door and tells me that he has the cure for ALS in his pocket. All I have to do to receive this cure from him is to go next door and kill a child. This is basically what the ALS foundation agreed to when they sent half a million dollars to a researcher who is using embryonic stem cells to attempt a cure. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the terminology, this researcher is using cells obtained from an aborted fetus (i.e. murdered human being). The ALS Foundation through their actions supports that. I can’t support that.

Is it right to kill other people so that I might live? Is it right to kill others so that my loved ones can live disease-free? Ethically, morally, and biblically, I must say no.

And so I will NOT be dumping ice water on my head, and I will NOT be sending money to the ALS foundation. I know many of my friends have done this challenge already, and this post is not meant to condemn anybody, but only to explain why I am not participating. My heart goes out to those affected by this disease, and I pray God allows us to find a cure, but I will not support those who murder the innocent.

Romans 14:5b “Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.”

EDIT: Apparently I was incorrect in stating that the stem cells came from aborted fetuses, since they evidently come from the leftover embryos from in-vitro fertilization. This does no change the substance of my post, however, since I believe life begins at conception, and these embryos are human beings.


About Steve Picray

I am a conservative Baptist Pastor in the midwestern United States. Every day I commit my life to Jesus Christ. This blog is my view on life. My prayer is that, by reading what I write, you will learn more about me, more about God, and be assisted in becoming the person God means for you to be. If you have a question, just e-mail me at spicray AT gmail DOT com. God Bless!
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6 Responses to Ice Water and Ethics

  1. ReadABook Sometime says:

    FYI: embryonic stem cells do not come from aborted fetuses due to laws and regulations, and I doubt they would change those policies because there are sufficient supplies of blastocysts (5 day old embryos that are still frozen). The funny thing is that the only reason there are excess blastocysts is that the family who was trying to have children in vitro were successful, so in reality the only reason embryonic stem cells exist is that at least one new child will be born to a family that wants children. Prior to embryonic stem cell research, excess frozen embryos would have been destroyed to avoid theft.

    • Cybil says:

      I was just about to post the same thing, but I would have explained in more layman’s terms. I’m actually surprised that this is still not known by people who had already graduated prior to the initiation of stem cell research.

    • Steve Picray says:

      Thank you for the clarification. I have amended my post accordingly.

  2. Ummm… gee. Dumping a bucket of ice water over you sounds like fun! Tell ya what… So that you don’t have to take heat for taking a principled stance, and so you can participate and not have to feel left out of the fun, the next time you come to the farm remind me and I’ll dump a bucket of ice water on you just for grins and giggles! Then you can tell people that, yes. You’ve had a bucket of ice water dumped on you, and it was fun (for me). Howszat? Gosh… I’m really looking forward to it! (Especially since it will probably be really cold when you next come down… and I have some really big buckets and lots of freezers to make the ice with!) But don’t worry – we know how to do CPR AND how to tie you to a pole and hold you over a fire so you thaw slowly…) ;-D

  3. John says:

    So I’m with you on the whole embryos are humans thing, but in this case they are humans who are functionally dead. Arguably, a comparison could be made with organ donors on life support. I do know some people are against organ donation for religious reasons, but I’m guessing you’re not one of them. Anyway, that’s how I see it for now, I’m curious to hear your opinion.

    • Steve Picray says:

      First, the easy one: No, I’m not against organ donation. If you read my most recent post about burials, I don’t really care what happens to my body after I’m done with it. I’ll go one further: I’ve been an organ donor since I got my first driver’s license in 1990.

      “Humans who are functionally dead.” Are they dead? Because from what I understand, the embryos used are viable, they have just failed to be implanted in a woman for IVF. In other words, they mix sperm and eggs together, come up with, say eight viable embryos, and then implant three or four, saving the rest. If none of the first set “take” and start growing as pregnancies, they do the procedure again with the other embryos. As I understand it, the embryonic stem cells they are using for research are taken from embryos not used in IVF. Here is a good article regarding exactly where the stem cells come from. Specifically, look at the one titled, “I’ve heard that creating embryonic stem cell lines destroys the embryo” in which they state that removing the stem cells destroys the embryo. This would be the equivalent not of our current system of organ donation, but more of a “Charlie the Unicorn” THEY TOOK MY KIDNEY! system of removing organs from people who are still alive. Removing the stem cells is what kills these embryos.

      And before you ask, yes, I’m ethically opposed to destroying embryos that were created with the intent of IVF but not used. This is because of my belief that once a sperm fertilizes an egg, that is a human being with a unique DNA signature.

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