A simple way to leave a legacy for your children

February 6, 2019

I love reading used books that have been marked up by thoughtful readers. It is almost like having a built-in book club. I often wonder what the previous reader was like. I ask questions like: Why were they reading this particular book? What were they going through at the time? Did they know that someone else would read it one day?

Like many of the former owners of my own books, I too enjoy marking books as I read, but I am typically conscious that others will read my books at some point. This is especially true of the many Bibles that I own. When I read, I mark my Bibles. There are five Bibles in particular that I read from and mark up frequently. Why five Bibles? Because I have five children that I intend to give these Bibles to one day.

For the last few years, I have made an effort to cycle through these five Bibles for preaching and personal study. Two of the Bibles have extensively marked up New Testaments. The other three are getting there. Occasionally, I will date the study or the prayer of the text. I do this because I also use a prayer journal for my personal study.

What I want to teach my children

I want my children to read God's Word, cherish it, pray through it, and grow in it as I have for the past 18 years of my new life in Christ. As they read the words of their earthly father next to the words of the Heavenly Father, I want them to see my struggle, my pain, my wrestling, my fear, my doubt, my sorrow, and my joy. I want them to see how I have failed and how I have prevailed during different seasons of my walk with Christ. And above all, I want them to see how important the book was to their daddy.

One day, if God wills, I will live to see the day when I give each of my children a Bible that has consistently proven true and sufficient for their father. They will read the words of Life that gave me life. They will see a pastor who agonized over the church while reading through Jeremiah. They will see a father who felt inadequate as a parent as he prayed through Ephesians 5. They will see a husband who thanked God for the wife of his youth as he studied Song of Solomon and Proverbs. They will see a man who was saved by the grace of Christ while studying Romans. They will know that daddy did not just read that big, leather-bound book behind a pulpit, but that he needed that book every day of his life. They will know how much I longed for them to be men and women of the book!

I mark up and make notes in these five Bibles as an enduring testimony to the sufficiency of God's Word for my children when I am gone from this earth. I have no way of anticipating the questions that my children might have for me one day when I am gone from this earth. But I hope that they will find their hope where their father found his hope—that the Word of Christ might dwell in them richly; that God's Word would be a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their path; that whatever mistakes and failures I made as a parent will be outshone by the grace and mercy of Christ that covers even me. The resources that they will need to overcome my deficiencies as a father will only be found in the unfailing Word of the true Father.

What matters most

My notes are like signs along a path that tell other travelers where to find food for their hunger and shelter from the storm. My prayer is that my notes will tell my children, "I have tasted of the water in the stream, and it is cool and refreshing. I have eaten the bread, and it is nourishing to the soul. I have taken refuge in the tree, and the branches are strong. This is a safe place, my child. Linger here. Take up and read. Pray with daddy. Do not be afraid. God the Father delights to give you the Kingdom. He is worthy of your trust."

I realize that I might never write the books that I aspire to write, speak on the platforms that I often look upon from the audience, or fulfill the dreams that I have entertained for decades, but maybe God in his mercy will see fit to use those simple notes in those five Bibles to inspire, instruct, and equip my children to live godly lives of faith, hope, and love for Christ and others. As a parent, I can think of no better legacy to leave a child than a faithful glimpse into the daily nourishment and strength that is afforded to them in God’s Word.

Maybe you will choose to start marking your Bibles and making notes for your children to read in the future, or maybe you will demonstrate faithfulness in another way. Whatever God calls you to do, make it a priority for the sake of His glory and the good of your children. Do not despise the small, seemingly insignificant influence of everyday faithfulness to Jesus in the presence of your children. Let them see you reading your Bible. Let them see you praying. Let them hear you singing praise to God. Let them hear you confess your sin and embrace the assurance of pardon that you possess in Christ alone.

May God grant us to see the importance of preparing our children to be men and women of the book. May he strengthen us to point them to Jesus. May we work, by God’s grace, to leave a legacy of faithfulness for the ones God gave us as our children, for the ones who see us and know us best. And may he grant in due time for those little ones to walk in the footsteps of their parent’s faith.

Casey B. Hough

Casey B. Hough (Ph.D., New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as lead pastor at Copperfield Church in Houston, Texas, and assistant professor of biblical interpretation at a Luther Rice College and Seminary. Casey and his wife, Hannah, have three sons and two daughters. For more ministry resources from Casey, visit his … 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