4 things my family discussed after passing Victoria’s Secret

November 12, 2018

Recently, my family walked past a Victoria’s Secret store (which was across from the kids’ playground). I was behind everyone, helping our youngest child keep up, and couldn’t help but notice how the older kids’ eyes were instinctively drawn to look at the pictures of nearly nude women hanging in the window.

My wife and I called their attention away from the display, and after we passed by, we stepped aside to talk about why it was so instinctive to look at those pictures and what we could learn from it. Here are a few of the things we discussed:

1. Understand true beauty

One of my daughters asked, “Do people only want to look at girls because they are pretty?” I explained that it is natural to be attracted to beautiful people, but I also assured them that their bodies don’t have to look like a model’s to be beautiful. The world lies to young ladies. We live in a world that tells us that beauty has a certain shape, a particular weight, and specific kinds of curves.

God tells us something very different. God created each of us uniquely in a way that is beautiful to him (Psa. 139:13-16). Our bodies are crafted as God has designed, and we should never feel pressure to conform to what others say is beautiful (Rom. 12:1-2). Certainly, we should take care of the bodies we have, but if we do so to tempt others to desire us in sinful ways or to receive sinful affirmation, we dishonor God and use other people.

I assured them that God and I think they are beautiful just the way they are. My wife and I pray they will always believe it.

2. Honor women

I told my son that God gave him a natural desire to be amazed by and drawn to women. Attraction in and of itself isn’t wrong, but we must be careful to not respond to it sinfully. Women are never to be treated as objects to look at.

I explained to him that the women in those pictures are people God created, just like his mother and sisters. God calls men to respect and protect women (1 Tim. 5:2), and we honor God by showing them honor, not by treating them like a piece of meat—and that begins by the way we choose not to look at them (Matt. 5:27-28).

Sin takes good things God created and twists them in a way that tempts us to look away from God.

I desire to instill in my boys the truth that developing friendships with women is a healthy part of being a man. I never want our boys to fear women or perceive them to be dangerous. Sure, they must be on guard against temptresses (Prov. 5-7), but not all women are seductresses. Our pornographic culture has so twisted things that many young men don’t know how to relate to women.

For example, I was recently walking with a young man who had been looking at porn daily for months. When we passed by an attractive woman, he had a physical reaction in which he spun his head the other way and began to walk sideways with his back toward her. I appreciate his desire to not look at her lustfully, but that is not the kind of response men are to have toward women.

Godly men respect and protect women, not use, abuse, or demonize them. I pray my sons will be better young men than I was.

3. Sexual nudity is a gift for your spouse

There is something about a naked body that draws our attention. Hollywood producers know this, which is why they mingle pointless sex scenes into their stories. It’s also why we have stores like Victoria’s Secret. Sex is a good gift given by a good God (Prov. 5:18; Song of Sol. 2-4; 1 Cor. 7:1-5; 1 Tim. 4:3), but sexual nudity isn’t something to be treated cheaply (Prov. 5:15-17).

With that in mind, I explained to our kids that looking at someone’s naked body, even if they say it’s OK, doesn’t honor that person. God has given that person a body to share in that way with a spouse, if God gives them one. I asked them how they think daddy would feel if mommy posed in one of those pictures? They all agreed it would make daddy jealous, and it would embarrass them. I didn’t teach them that; it was inherent in them. Why? Because their divinely-designed conscience knows it.

When God made Adam and Eve, they enjoyed life together naked and without shame (Gen. 2:25). Husbands and wives are free to look at and enjoy each other’s bodies, but God is not pleased when we take what he has not given to us. Looking at nude (or nearly nude) pictures of other people is wrong because God has not given those people to us as our spouse. Sex is sacred, and we must treat it as a special gift.

I assured our kids that most people wouldn’t agree with those ideas about sex, but that God created us, and he knows what is best. I pray they will trust God more than I did in my younger years and be spared the pain of living against God’s design.

4. Why we want to look

Finally, I explained that the reason we’re drawn to beauty is because God is beautiful, and we’re created to enjoy him (Psa. 27:4). All beautiful things in this world serve as little signs that point our hearts toward amazement of and love for God (Psa. 8). The beauty of sunsets, flowers, or physical figures are intended to make us marvel at God’s good and wise designs.

Satan, however, hates us to think about God in that way. Sin takes good things God created and twists them in a way that tempts us to look away from God. The models pictured in the window of that store were created by God to reflect his image and point people to him. Satan desires to distort God’s design, though, and use them to draw their hearts and all who look at them away from God.

I pray that my children and I will continually grow in our ability to discern the difference between what God says is beautiful and what the world says is beautiful.

In the end, my desire is not for my kids to be little legalists who are shackled with rules about not looking at certain things. Instead, I want them to be enlightened to the fact that we don’t look at sinful things so that we can more purely see and enjoy God (Matt. 5:8). I also pray that my children will look to Jesus, the one who died and rose for all the times they will get it wrong, and delight in his grace—the most beautiful gift of all.

Garrett Kell

Garrett Kell is married to Carrie, and together they have five children. He serves as pastor of Del Ray Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia.  Read More by this Author

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