A sexual resolution for the new year

January 9, 2014

Sex is wonderful! In fact, sex is a gloriously good gift of God. Christian dad, do your adolescent sons and daughters know this truth? Have you directly and unapologetically taught your sons this truth and have you led your wife to do so with your daughters? If you fear having an open and honest conversation about sex would increase the chance of your adolescent child being involved in sexual promiscuity, then you have an insufficiently Christian understanding of sexuality. The opposite is true.

Taking every thought captive to obey Jesus (2 Cor. 10:5) includes sexual thoughts. The sexual liberationist abstracts sex from God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sex, for them, is about personal self-expression and self-fulfillment. Consequently, their pursuit of sexual satisfaction is a never-ending treadmill of vain experimentation. Within this impoverished worldview, pornography makes perfect sense. The Christian father who refuses to teach his children a biblical view of sex joins the sexual liberationists in abstracting sex from God, albeit from the opposite direction. Perhaps this abstraction of sex from family Christian discipleship provides some explanation for the relative impotence of the church in effectively responding to the contemporary porn epidemic as it spreads within our own walls.

Our ubiquitous sex culture has not produced greater a fascination with sex, as Russell D. Moore has noted, it has produced a culture bored with sex (“The Spiritual Danger of Boring Sex,” Southern Seminary Magazine, 6-9). I saw this boredom on full display in a young man sitting next to me in a barber's chair as he responded to a question of whether or not he went to a strip club on his 21st birthday, “Yes, I did, but it was boring. Who needs strip clubs when you have porn.” It is not uncommon in our present culture to counsel a recently married couple trying to figure out what to do because they have been unable to consummate the marriage since his sexual senses have been dulled through almost constant exposure to pornography from his early adolescence. When sex is abstracted from Jesus, it is corrupted. This is true whether it is liberal atheistic progressives, or evangelical conservatives abstracting it.

After 20 years of counseling young adults who have grown up in evangelical churches, I know the message they have been hearing from the church and their parents: “Sex is wrong, do not do it.” Now, I know that those churches and parents are actually intending to emphasize that sex outside of marriage is wrong, but too often that is the only thing we have told them about sex. In fact, evangelical programs to promote sexual abstinence have often grounded their appeal for abstinence in narcissism rather than the gospel. I can remember one Sunday school teacher saying, “You don't want to have sex before marriage because you won't be able to live out your dreams. After all, how will you be able to go to college with a baby? You are too special to ruin your life.” Living out ones narcissistic dreams is at odds with Christianity whether it expresses itself in sexual libertinism or sexual abstinence.

Just say, “no” to sex, so that you can say, “yes” to college is not a Christian sexual ethic. Could it be we avoid talking to our adolescents about sex because we are not really sure what to say since we do not think about sex in the context of Christian discipleship? A biblical approach to sex begins with its goodness and then warns about ways God’s good gift can be corrupted. Christian parents must tell adolescents that sexual feelings and desires are good and meant to be satisfied and enjoyed in marriage. In other words, sexual desire is God-given, and should be directed toward finding a spouse. Within the context of marriage, the physical one-flesh union of a husband with his wife in sexual intimacy is to be enjoyed and celebrated as a vital way of exulting in Gospel of Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:32, Rev. 19:9). This poses a problem if we want our children to live out our dream of their individual success. Focusing on marriage could get in the way of our plan for their lives. It is good and right to say true love waits for marriage. However, it is wholly different to suggest that true love waits for college, career, and a fantastic house in the suburbs—and then marriage.

Christian fathers, your adolescent sons and daughters will have thoughts about sex. The only question for you to answer is who will shape those thoughts? Christian parents often excuse their sexual silence by saying it would be too awkward to talk to them about sex. That attitude is tantamount to saying, “I do not have the courage to talk to my children about something so weighty and intimate, I will just let the movies, television, and kids in the locker room take care of it and hope for the best.” Parental silence about sex and sexual desire is a cowardly failure to love. Your adolescent children desperately need you to help shape their thoughts and desires about sex in a cruciform way and to help them develop convictions about how they will respond to inevitable sexual temptation (Prov. 5:1-5, 20-21; 7:1-5; 23:26-28; 31:3). Some Christian parents naively assume that if they shelter their adolescents from sex altogether, then their kids will not face sexual temptation. They forget that lust does not originate in Hollywood, but in the hearts of sinful men.

Adolescent children desperately need Christian fathers and mothers to look them directly in the eyes, and with wide-eyed wonder, communicate to them that sex is wonderful; after all, God designed sex. They need to hear Christian parents say the reason to remain sexually pure is that the monogamous sexual union of a husband and wife is honorable and uniquely transcends daily life by pointing to the glorious cosmic mystery of the love relationship between Christ and the church (Eph. 5:31-33). Christian marital sex is not getting away with something naughty, it is an act of worship. Immoral sexual behavior constitutes lying to the world about the absolute self-sacrificial commitment of Christ to his bride, the church.

Sex education in a Christian home is a key component of gospel education. Christian dad, you are accountable to lead your family and to lead your children into Christ-centered, biblical manhood and womanhood. Will you make a sexual resolution for the new year? Will you commit to teach your adolescent sons a Christian view of sex and lead your wife to do the same with your daughters? Sex is a wonderful and gloriously good gift from God. Your adolescent children desperately need you to not only believe it, but to also unapologetically say it to them.

David E. Prince

David E. Prince is pastor of preaching and vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. 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