3 truths to remember as Christians face pro-life opposition

March 9, 2020

A story went viral a while back across news outlets and social media that highlights the divide in American culture about human dignity and pro-life issues. KC Ahlers, the father of a 4 month old son, RJ, posted signs around a Toledo, Ohio, mall to raise awareness about a fundraiser for his son's ongoing medical care. Beside Ahlers' signs, the father found other signs posted that said, "Stop asking for money. Let the baby die. It's called Darwinism. Happy Holidays."

Ahlers' son was born with two rare congenital disabilities. The 4 month old has a condition called agenesis of the corpus callosum or AgCC, which means the center of his brain is underdeveloped. The second condition is trisomy 9, an incredibly rare genetic chromosome disease. Only 1,200 people in the world have this condition, mainly because most die either before birth or when they are 2 years old. The family raised money for expensive genetic testing and set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the ongoing medical bills. 

This episode offers an opportunity to reflect on a few broad principles that Christians should remember as they face opposition to their pro-life public theology.  

First, every human being bears the imago Dei and has inherent dignity and value. 

Genesis is clear that each person, regardless of the particularities of their birth, is created in the image of God. 

Then God said, "Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. " (Gen 1:26-27). 

Though the signs the Ahlers encountered did not directly advocate euthanasia, the Darwinistic moral theory underlying the sign leads to it. Political and cultural movements have existed that deemed some lives unfit for living and advocated for euthanasia, most notably in Germany. The notion of a "life unworthy of living" (lebensunwertes Leben) developed in German academic circles from biology, economics, medical, and legal thought between 1890 to 1933. National Socialists then took power in Germany, which lead to totalitarianism and genocide. Those with severe intellectual disabilities, the terminally ill, weak, infirmed, incompetent, criminals, and others were subject to involuntary euthanasia (or in some cases forced sterilization), inevitability leading to the Holocaust. 

Euthanizing those specific classes of people was considered the “compassionate” thing to do, which J. Daryl Charles says is the linguistic prostitution of the term "compassion" to justify social and moral evil. The concept of a "life unworthy of living" coupled with the linguistic redefinition of compassion and mercy as meaning “the right and, perhaps, the duty to kill the terminally ill” has led to pushes for the legalization of euthanasia. Euthanasia is possibly the life issue of the 21st century as more Western, secularizing societies push to normalize it. And it’s the responsibility of Christians to speak out against it. 

The presence of the sick, those with disabilities, and the terminally ill among us calls for Christians and the Church to work and advocate for the formation of a culture of life—a culture that cares for those image-bearers among us whose lives are worthy of living.

Second, a culture of life cares for the least of these among us. 

To be pro-life not only entails caring about the preservation of life in the womb but defending and caring for every life outside of the womb (Matt. 25:40; Mark 10:13-16). Living in a world still groaning for glorious redemption means caring for those among us that require an unquantifiable amount of time, energy, and resources from parents, extended family, churches, and society (Rom. 8:19-23). The presence of the sick, those with disabilities, and the terminally ill among us calls for Christians and the Church to work and advocate for the formation of a culture of life—a culture that cares for those image-bearers among us whose lives are worthy of living.  

Third, sacrificial love will progressively appear foolish in a culture of death. 

The spirit of the age is one of expressive individualism, an ideology that rejects any limitation of the self by responsibilities that were not chosen by the self. The lives of followers of Jesus have an identity that is given to them "in Christ" and a calling that identity demands. Jesus told his followers that if they would come after him, they were to take up their crosses daily and follow him (Luke 9:29). The way of following Jesus is the way of a cruciform life. This form of life means that Christians regularly embrace things that require the laying down of our lives for the sake of others. We should embrace hard situations in order to love those around us because we are convinced it's the way of our Master.

As Christians, let’s work toward a day when “let the baby die” is an unheard of sentiment and the value of all lives is recognized in our country’s legislation and milieu. And let’s live in such a way that we demonstrate what we believe by caring for the most vulnerable among us. 

Tim Walker

Tim Walker is the Pastoral Care and Communications Pastor at First Baptist Church Biloxi and an Adjunct Instructor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to Darla, and they have four children. He has a Ph.D. (Theology) from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS), having written a dissertation … 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