3 truths that led us to say yes to adoption

December 15, 2020

My husband and I said “yes” a year and a half ago. We said yes to bringing a child with whom we do not share DNA into our home. We said yes to giving care, advocacy, and love to this child as if he was our own. We said yes to a path of uncertainty, but certain to be full of both highs and lows. We said yes with deep joy and tentative excitement. 

We didn’t say yes because we knew the process would be easy or pain free. It hasn’t been.  We didn’t say yes because we were sure the outcome would be permanent stability for this child in our family. We’re still not certain what the future holds. And we didn’t say yes because we were experiencing the empty ache of childlessness. We’d already received the gifts of three biological sons who fill our hearts and home. 

We had a better reason to say yes: It was clearly God’s will for us to do so. We know this to be true, not because God revealed it to us in a vision or audibly spoke into our particular situation. We know it to be true because God made his will clear in his Word, and his Spirit impressed it upon our hearts through three primary truths. 

1. Children are always a gift 

Guardianship, foster care, and adoption are messy ministries. Why? Because these ministries are a necessary result of brokenness. The fact that so many biological parents are unable or unwilling to care for their children reminds us that something has gone terribly askew in our world. But children, regardless of the circumstances through and into which they are born, are gifts. Always gifts. God made this clear by allowing our first parents Adam and Eve to “bear fruit” in spite of their sinful rebellion (Gen. 3:16, 20). And he confirms that all human life is a gift by revealing his tender heart for the orphan throughout Scripture (Isa. 1:17; Psa. 82:3; Deut. 10:18; James 1:27).

We live in a culture that says the natural fruit of our sexuality is only good when it’s wanted or chosen. It’s reasoned that if children are not wanted or chosen, parents should have the freedom to kill them in the womb. This killing is a hallmark of the kingdom of darkness. Think of the mass genocides of infant children led by Pharaoh (Ex. 1:22) and Herod (Matt. 2:16), both prototypical enemies of God. In contrast, God commands his people not to sacrifice their own children as the pagan nations do (Deut. 12:31). Disdaining the gift of children is the natural overflow of humanity’s rebellious quest for autonomy from God. And it’s hellish business.  

But God is in the business of graciously bringing the gift of fruit from barren places. The Bible is full of examples including Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 21:1-2), Isaac and Rebekah (Gen. 25:21), Elkanah and Hannah (1 Sam. 1:19b-20), Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:7,13), and Mary (Luke 1:31,34-35). Christians know that life is always a good gift to be received from the hand of God, and we demonstrate our belief in this truth when we are ready and willing to give our joyful yes to any children God puts before us who need tender love and care. 

2. We fight for life through death to self

The gift of fruitfulness is a heavy blessing. It’s heavy precisely because human life is so valuable. Receiving and stewarding the gift of a child, whether biologically one’s own or not, requires investments of time, energy, and financial resources in innumerable quantities. And if a child comes into one’s family from previously difficult circumstances, the investment may be even greater. In a very real sense, the gift of children requires parents to lay down their own lives for the life of another.

The culture of death all around us proclaims the lie that children aren’t always a gift worth the investment required to steward them, and this message rings true to fallen sensibilities. In a world that’s all about self-promotion, self-love, and self-care, self-denial sounds pretty ridiculous. But finding true life through death is the message of the cross, and it’s folly to those who are perishing (1 Cor. 1:18). 

Christians know that life is always a good gift to be received from the hand of God, and we demonstrate our belief in this truth when we are ready and willing to give our joyful yes to any children God puts before us who need tender love and care.

Jesus came to earth to conquer death through his own death, which led to resurrection glory. Through his sacrifice, he freely offers eternal life to all who trust him by faith. Then he calls those who believe to follow him in dying: “‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life finds it” (Luke 9:23-24). 

The indwelling Holy Spirit enables Christians to war against the culture of death by dying to self  in service to others. This means Christians can do hard things. We can be on the front lines of orphan care ministry, joyfully receiving and stewarding the gift of children (or supporting those who do), even though it costs us something. We tell the world the gospel is true when we willingly open our hands and homes to the good gift of children, even, and maybe especially, those we haven’t physically borne. 

3. The gospel changes everything 

My husband and I didn’t say yes to receiving a child into our home because we’re naturally noble and drawn toward service. Apart from Christ, we’re self-centered lovers of comfort and ease. No, we said yes because the gospel is true. It has changed (and is still changing) us. By grace through faith in Christ alone, we who were once orphaned by sin have been made sons and daughters of the Father. The Holy Spirit is now producing good fruit in our once spiritually barren hearts, enabling us to live for someone greater than ourselves. 

The Bible teaches that one primary evidence of gospel transformation in a person’s life is care for the least of these: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: To visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). Because we know the promises of God are all yes for us in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 1:19-20), the hearts of all Christians must be continually postured to offer our joyful “Yes!” to God in whatever he calls us to do. 

With empty hands, we’ve received his salvation and the gift of spiritual fruit. Now, with hands and hearts full of every spiritual blessing, we’re able to pour all we have back out in service to him as we steward the gifts and callings he has given us. Unstained by the world’s way of thinking, Christains say yes with our wallets, our time, our energy, and our very lives to receive the orphans of the world because God has done so for us. And this good news changes everything.    

Sarah Rice

Sarah Rice is a pastor's wife and mother of four. She holds a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Tracing Glory: The Christmas Story Through the Bible, an advent reading for families published by 10Publishing. Sarah writes regularly on … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24