Recasting the Stumbling Block

“Dying to Live” Australian Organ Donor Ad Campaign

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. –1 Corinthians 1:22-25

It’s crude humor. Not funny. Mockery. That’s my immediate reaction watching the Australian organ donation ad campaign featuring the crucifixion of Jesus. Currently there’s a petition to take it down, you can watch it below and decide for yourself. But first, and for brevity sake, I’ll excuse the horrible historical errors made within the ad and simply address the punch line: WWJD.

RS-Kanye West
Rolling Stone Cover, February 2006

There’s nothing wrong with organ donation, and underneath the article, I’ve included the LCMS’ official statement on the matter. The larger concern here is the obvious mockery of Christ’s crucifixion, it’s tasteless and purposely dismissive to the actual event. This is evident in the passing commentary of Jesus being a “good guy” and “changing the lives of so many people” for his multiple organ donations. In reality, Jesus gave his whole organ, his body, for the salvation of the world. He’s more than a good guy, more than a historical episode, he’s the living God whose death brings eternal life to those who believe. The video seeks to highlight the greatness of self-sacrifice (WWJD) but loses me when Jesus’ crucifixion is made into a parody.

There’s a failed track record for getting the cross right. Too many don’t get it so they attack the stumbling block of Christ’s crucifixion with the chisel of their crude tongue. Others use their bodies as clay, crafting themselves into some form of the crucifixion. Long ago Isaiah warned us,

“[T]he wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” Ah, you who hide deep from the LORD your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? –Isaiah 29:14b-16

Worship of the Gold Calf Idol (Cf. Exodus 32)

We will continue to see it all the time in parades, on magazine covers, and used as a meme. The crucifixion is a punchline for comics and pundits alike. Before us is an unbelieving world attempting to make sense of the foolishness and weakness of God. Those who are outside of the Gospel remain incapable of regarding the cross as anything but an allegory, Divine child abuse, or their personal canvas toward idolatry.

Christians are fair game to a secular world who continue to recast the stumbling block of Christ’s crucifixion into a more palatable false image. We shouldn’t be surprised but we also shouldn’t keep silent. Perhaps the petition to take down the ad will win out, we’ll see. Regardless, and in the meantime, the preaching of Christ crucified remains wiser than the wisdom of men and is the power of salvation to all who believe (Cf. Romans 1:16-17).

QUESTION: What is the LCMS position on organ donation? Is there any help on this issue in the Bible?

ANSWER: The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod encourages organ donation as an act of Christian love, but this choice is entirely up to the individual and/or his or her family, and should not be a cause of guilt or regret no matter what decision is made.

The Bible has nothing specific to say regarding this issue. Therefore, it is a matter of Christian freedom and personal (or family) discretion.

In 1981, the Synod adopted Resolution 8-05: To Encourage Donation of Kidneys and Other Organs as follows:

Whereas, We accept and believe that our Lord Jesus came to give life and to give it abundantly (John 10:10); and

Whereas, Through advances in medical science we are aware that at the time of death some of our organs can be transplanted to alleviate pain and suffering of afflicted human beings (see Gal. 6:10); and

Whereas, Our Heavenly Father has created us so that we can adequately and safely live with one kidney and can express our love and relive the unnecessary prolonged suffering of our relative; and

Whereas, We have an opportunity to help others out of love for Christ, through the donation of organs; therefore be it

Resolved, That our pastors, teachers, and Directors of Christian Education be encouraged to inform the members of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod of the opportunity to sign a Universal Donor Card (which is to authorize the use of our needed organs at the time of death in order to relieve the suffering of individuals requiring organ transplants); and be it further

Resolved, That we encourage family members to become living kidney donors; and be it further

Resolved, That the program committees of pastors and teachers conferences be encouraged to include “organ and tissue transplants” as a topic on their agendas; and be it finally

Resolved, That the Board of Social Ministry and World Relief seek ways to implement this program so that the entire Synod may join in this opportunity to express Christian concern.

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