4 things I want a new mom to know

November 27, 2017

In the last few years, I have had the great privilege of discipling a few younger women in my church. Their joyful and eager spirits have been life giving to me, and our relationships have provided a new ministry purpose in my current home-oriented season of raising small children. Now, these friendships are adding a new chapter: motherhood. Today, almost all of these dear girls are either expecting their first child or enjoying that precious first year.

There is much preparation for all that happens between the positive pregnancy test to the first birthday. Yet, the experience of motherhood is unique to each mother and child, and nearly impossible to predict. A recent Time magazine article, “Motherhood Is Hard to Get Wrong. So Why Do So Many Moms Feel So Bad About Themselves?”, featured an extensive survey of new mothers and dove deep into the decision-making processes that mothers face during those days. It also discussed the emotional, and I would add spiritual, difficulties of motherhood as more than 70 percent responded that they feel societal pressures about those choices. The survey found that “half of all new mothers had experienced regret, shame, guilt or anger, mostly due to unexpected complications and lack of support.”  

I empathized with many of their stories and the guilt the women had experienced. As my friends are preparing for motherhood, we talk regularly about pregnancy symptoms, labor and delivery, and sleep schedules, but I also want to be sure to discuss the spiritual challenges of bringing a baby into a home.

Some of these lessons were shared by those ahead of me, and some of them I learned by doing it completely wrong or being caught unaware by temptation. All of these words are covered in prayer and given with grace for those early, sleepless, and hormonal days. With that in mind, I want you to know:

  1. This is your calling. Ladies, this is it. If God gives you children, this is the primary calling of your life. You will have many other important callings and ministries, but the call to your family is one only you can fulfill. Every call of Scripture, every word of encouragement, every expression of the biblical community will be cast in a new light as you become a parent. God has planned this for you (Ps. 139:16), and he will equip you for this (Heb.13:21). Yet, you will be tempted to look for purpose, identity, and fulfillment in other, more visible or seemingly more exciting ministries as the years pass by. Never let the call to love and serve your family fall in line behind something else. The triumphant mark of a life well lived in Proverbs 31 is that her children call her “blessed,” and her husband praises her. The family watches all the good works of this woman, and those relationships matter unlike anything else.
  2. Everyone does it differently. Each tribe of mothers (and fathers) has a book or a parenting philosophy that is shared as if it were the gospel. It’s not. I love to share things that were helpful to me, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to raise your child. No two families have the exact same set of circumstances. Whether it’s sleep-training methods or preferences on childcare, understand that everyone does it differently. Let that free you and your husband to make decisions about what is best for your family as God guides you (2 Cor. 13:7).
  3. You are not the exception. Beware of the temptation of resentment, which is so powerful and so dangerous. It is easy to play the comparison game with other mothers, other children, and even other husbands. Job 5:2 says it plainly, “Resentment kills a fool” (NIV). The apostle Peter wrote, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you” (1 Pet. 4:12). Parenting is not always a fiery trial, but Peter understands that we are encouraged by the commonality of difficulty in the Christian experience. So many families have difficult circumstances, such as a parent with an unusual schedule or demanding job. Even in the most difficult days or seasons, God will always provide what you need (2 Pet. 1:3).
  4. Your baby can become your idol. You will be doing one of the most honorable and noble works of your life in caring for an infant. Feeling successful at keeping that little person alive and growing is thrilling. Feeling like a failure can be devastating. Your highs and lows will be unlike any previous experience. Hello hormones! It will be so easy for your identity, purpose, and joy to be found in him or her, allowing the baby into spaces of your heart that only God should occupy. When the baby becomes your idol, many other parts of your life become distorted—your marriage, your emotional health, your participation in the Christian community, and more. Talking about how you are feeling, spending time in the Scriptures, and making time for a spiritual life are your best defenses.

When the baby becomes your idol, many other parts of your life become distorted.

But, the best advice I can give is to cling to Jesus, even if it’s just by whispering that you trust him as you hold your child. My heart is thrilled to think of this love that you will know. You will be given an opportunity like never before to see God’s goodness. It will be in your heart, and it will be in your arms. The common grace for every mother is palpable, but as a believer, you can use this time to worship God with a new understanding of who he is and how he loves you. Don’t let the worries or chaos of the season get in the way of the joy. God will use the journey of parenting to change you—for the better.

Jill Waggoner

Jill Waggoner serves as a communications and PR strategist, writing and developing content for the organization’s online and print resources. She has served the ERLC since 2005, including as brand manager for Global Hunger Relief from 2014-2018. A graduate of Union University, she and her family reside in Lebanon, Tennessee. 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