A path to future victory in the pro-life cause

August 24, 2016

Over a year ago, the series of awful videos emerged revealing that Planned Parenthood was selling the body parts of aborted babies. And this summer, the Supreme Court has reminded us once again that they claim to possess the authority to define human life. In its June decision, Whole Women’s Health, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that had successfully forced approximately half of the abortion clinics in the state to close. The Court’s decision was a major blow to pro-life efforts in recent years. What was thought to have been a successful step for pro-life legislative advocacy was brushed away with apparent judicial ease by five black-robed justices in the nation’s highest federal court.

In the wake of this decision, it would be worthwhile for pro-life Americans to pause, take a deep breath and ponder the steps necessary for future victory.

Rebuilding the foundation for human rights

Ending the legality of abortion will require that society recognizes humanity’s inherent value, a perspective that is being lost on the culture at an alarming speed. Therefore, it is vitally important to note the social context in which Americans presently find themselves.

A few years ago, I went to work on Capitol Hill during my first summer break from law school, presuming that I would be on the “front lines” of the pro-life movement. However, a tour through the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History taught me more about the battlefield for defining human life than the halls of Congress ever did.

Designed at a height low enough to reach elementary-aged children, one particular exhibit features a screen. When students peer into the screen it emits an image that adds ape-like features to the child’s face falsely purporting to show the child what they would have looked like had the child been a mythological “pre-human ancestor.”

In addition, the Smithsonian currently sends out an exhibit entitled, “Exploring Human Origins: What does it mean to be human?” It advertises with a poster featuring a man and woman alongside two “Neanderthal” fabrications with the tagline: “Come to the family reunion in this Smithsonian traveling exhibition.” The Smithsonian assumes their tragic answer to the question with the lie that “being a human means being a more highly developed animal.”

The effects of this Darwinian dogma are evidenced in far more ways than just abortion. Weeks before the June Supreme Court decision, social media displayed how society was weighing the value of a young child’s life with that of an endangered gorilla. Critics were enraged that killing the massive gorilla was even an option for zoo personnel who were able to save the child’s life.

Even last summer, when the shocking undercover videos revealed that Planned Parenthood had been selling body parts of aborted babies, media attention focused for only a brief period on the nation’s largest abortion provider, represented by its president, Cecil Richards. With tragic irony, though, public attention was soon largely diverted to another Cecil—the lion—instead. Outcry in the media over a cat in Africa eclipsed the public horror of realizing that while Planned Parenthood was receiving hundreds of millions of our tax dollars, they were  also gaining money from the sale of aborted baby body parts.

Our government’s disgusting love affair with Planned Parenthood means that more tax dollars are given to the nation’s largest abortion provider under Title X than to any other private organization. We shouldn’t be surprised by sin’s effects on society in this cursed world, yet we shouldn’t be emotionally content about it either. Christians of all people should know that when the world ignores a problem, it doesn’t mean that it’s not a big problem. Ignoring an injustice doesn’t mean that it’s not an atrocious injustice.

Events in the last year remind us that the pro-life movement is only part of a larger movement to reclaim the sanctity of human life as God’s word defines it. The movement must go much deeper than mere legal advocacy. America needs advocacy over the very psyche of young minds who are daily being conditioned to think that their lives are of no greater worth than an animal and that, thus, their sexual ethic ought to be no higher either.

For the pro-life movement to win legally in the days ahead, it must win big in the hearts and minds of Americans. It must address underlying mindsets and stop dealing merely with the legal “fruit” of a society that prefers endangered animals over children. Pro-choice Americans are pro-choice largely because they have no vision for the sanctity of human life. They fail to see that human beings possess the imago Dei, the image of God.

Individual Christians have the great duty to “[r]escue those who are being taken away to death” (Prov 24:11). Individual Christians must step up to the plate and be vocal in order to elevate the value of human life in America. Whether it’s pursuing a certain school curriculum or approving/disapproving of sexually explicit entertainment or even simply saying something at the lunch table, Christians in America must be vocal with their everyday lives to effectively communicate a pro-life ethic.

The guarantee of victory

Personally, I have resolved not to look to politicians for my pro-life inspiration. To see victories on this issue, we need a greater vision—and greater power—than what candidates or human courts can ever offer us. We need a vision of God, who sits upon his throne, does all that pleases him and whose day of reckoning is surely coming. We need a vision of God, who was able to bring Nineveh to repentance in a single day. We need a vision of the gospel—the power of God for salvation.

You may never stand before the U.S. Supreme Court to advocate the pro-life position, but you can do something more powerful. You can advocate for the gospel’s message to the woman in your neighborhood who is stricken with the grief of a past abortion, or the local high school student whose girlfriend just found out she was pregnant, or the abortion clinic worker who frequents your local coffeeshop. You have the sole message in your heart that can bring true hope and salvation to those affected by this issue.

For the Christian pro-life advocate, success will not merely be a reality if the Supreme Court decides to change its mind. Success is faithfulness. A liberal Supreme Court can hand down decision after decision, yet Christians press on to save innocent lives. Even if the day were to arrive when every justice on the Supreme Court became pro-abortion, Christians continue to love, to pray, to speak, to adopt, to provide ultrasounds, to propose bills, to march, to expose fraud, to counsel—all because we have a God who will make all wrongs right in the end, and because he has already made right our wrongs, including past abortions, through his Son’s atoning death on the cross.

Christians can have an unshakable resolve in the face of legal defeat because we have a destiny that has been decided by the Highest Judge, and we know that his coming is not far off. It’s with that kind of vision that we press on and remain lovingly and relentlessly pro-life.

Matthew Mihelic

Matthew Mihelic is an International Policy Resident with the ERLC. He has served as a missionary to sub-Saharan Africa and is currently a student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. A graduate of Liberty University School of Law, he is also adjunct faculty for the Helms School of Government at Liberty … 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