Evangelicals for Life: Day 2

January 28, 2017

Are You Mentally Healthy Enough? Preparing for Adoption’s Hardships (Sharen Ford)

“The question is not if the battle is going to happen, but when,” said Sharen Ford, who opened Friday’s session with some words of caution for adoptive parents, or those considering adoption.

As the program director for adoption and orphan care efforts at Focus on the Family, and having worked for child welfare services at the State Department of Human Services, Ford has seen, firsthand, the devastation of not being prepared.

Challenging the audience, she asked, “Are you building resources along the way? Are you aligning with the right people to support you? Who is walking alongside you for the long haul?”

Further stressing the importance of community for adoptive families, she explained they need practical help from their extended families and the local church in order to win the spiritual battles —this may mean providing food, offering to run errands or helping with household tasks.

Or it may even mean babysitting so the adoptive parents may have some time together.

“Many adoptive families are in survival mode. The war is raging in their homes. Parenting children with trauma history takes a toll,” she said. “You will question your sanity. But God calls people to the mission of adoption.”

The Life-Changing Influence of Foster Care (Jim Daly)

Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, shared his experience as a child in foster care. Born to an alcoholic father and a mother, who, would later leave him with their five children, he ended up in the foster care system after his mother died from an illness when he was a child.

Daly himself was nearly aborted. His mother was 42 when he was born. In their state (before Roe v. Wade), a pregnant woman over 40 could legally have an abortion. As it turns out, it was his alcoholic father who convinced her to carry the baby to term.

“When I look on all that…that’s the motivation for me,” Daly said. “When people ask me why I do what I do, I tell them I do it for the kids.”

Later, as a married man with two sons, God called Daly and his wife to foster care. It came with hardships, but he learned one of the most important truths about the Savior through his experience: “The Lord is not about your comfort—he’s about your commitment.”

A Consistent Pro-Life Worldview: Confronting the Moral Blind Spots in our Everyday Lives (Albert Mohler)

Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, delivered an address that outlined the importance of developing a pro-life theology, and the societal implications of a culture that does not value life.

“We can’t expect for any society who fails to see much as sacred will see the sanctity of life,” Mohler said. “Human flourishing cannot exist where human life is extinguished. God hates abortion. God hates every denial of his perfect gift of life.”

In a world where human flourishing was God’s intention, believers must, Mohler said, understand what Scriptures like Deuteronomy 30 say about seeing creation as a means for displaying God’s glory and advancing his Kingdom.

“If we are going to have a consistent pro-life theology, ethic and worldview, we will see abortion as an assault upon God’s glory, sovereignty and will.”

Respecting Human Dignity Through Civil Discourse (John Stonestreet)

“People last year were announcing the end of the prolife movement. They were wrong,” said John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center. “The ball is getting ready to roll downhill. The pro-life movement has gotten smarter.”

While we should celebrate the wins in the battle of life, we should guard our attitudes toward those who antagonize or oppose us, as they are God’s image bearers.

“We have to treat other people with respect,” he said. “The greatest temptation to not treat them with respect is not when you are losing, but when you are winning.”

Stonestreet said there are two key things to remember about civility when engaging in discourse with people on the other side of the pro-life and other divisive issues.

First, civility has nothing to do with reciprocity. “We’re not civil to people because they are civil to us,” he said. “We’re always tempted to respond with the tone they are using with us. In today’s heated climate, it is a revolutionary act to respond to wrath with a soft answer.”

Secondly, Stonestreet explained that civility is not a strategy. “We’re not civil because it works,” he said. “We don’t treat others with respect because it helps us win…or get ahead. Civility is an expectation of anyone living out the grand story of redemption. We do it because it’s right. We do it whether it works or not.”

There is, however, a clear distinction between civility and tolerance.

“Civility is not tolerance,” said Stonestreet. “The worst thing you say to someone who is in grave danger, that they are not.”

Social Justice, Human Dignity and the Gospel: A Comprehensive Pro-Life Stance (Eugene Cho)

Founder and pastor of Seattle’s Quest Church, Eugene Cho guided Evangelicals for Life participants to reflect on how to live out the embodiment of the whole gospel.

“We need men and women who believe in the gospel story to open their eyes (to the injustices) in their cities neighborhood…awake to the injustices in our world,” he said. “We can’t cherry pick. We must embody the whole gospel.”

And, he said, we need to reject the notion that the work in the trenches should not be left for leadership.

“The work of justice is not just for ministers and prophets,” Cho said. “It’s for the whole church. Truth telling is incredibly important justice work. The good news is God has a long history of using broken, falling people to be his mouthpieces and storytellers. It’s the only kind of people who exist. “

He then offered several things to consider when living out the whole gospel.

First, he said, the church needs to begin operating out of theology taken from the Scriptures rooted in justice. “Justice reflects the very character of God,” he explained. “You cannot read the Scriptures without justice being pervasive throughout. “

Next, he said, theology tells us all life is sacred and every single human being bears the image of God.

“We can’t just be anti-abortion. We should be for the sanctity of life from the womb to tomb,” Cho said. “Not just American lives, but Syrian lives. Not just Christian liberty religious lives, but Muslim refugee lives.”

Cho also said we must humanize justice: “Jesus performed miracles. Regardless of how busy he was, he always stopped and looked people in the eye. When we do that, we say, ‘I see you…you bear the image of God.’”

If we are to be about a comprehensive pro-life ethic, he said we shouldn’t be loyal to political parties: “We must resist the idea that Jesus is a republican or a democrat. And we need to have the courage to speak prophetically on all of these issues.”

Welcoming Sojourners: How the Gospel Urges Us to Love the Immigrant (Samuel Rodriguez)

Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, explained that loving the immigrant is not a political, but a prophetic biblical issue with political ramifications.

“We need a political solution, but driven by a prophetic impetus,” said Rodriguez. “Scripture not only delivers an admonition but an exhortation to address the stranger.”

He also suggested the church should “stop creating evangelical silo…evangelicals want to protect the baby in the womb.” There must be one continuum of life—the immigrant has the same inherent value as the pre-born baby.

Rodriguez explained that immigration has definitive kingdom implications, since the fastest growing segment of many denominations is coming out of the immigrant community.

“They stand at the precipice of a new awakening of America. Deportation equates to deporting the future Christianity of America…We need to look at immigration as Christians, and not republicans or democrats.”

Panel: Ministering to Refugees and Immigrants—Hard Questions, Complex Answers and Loving Our Neighbors (Travis Wussow—moderator, Bryant Wright, Jenny Yang, Matthew Soerens, Samuel Rodriguez and Stephanie Hammond)

This panel, composed of pastors and workers for relief organizations, discussed the current political climate and how it will affect refugee care, as well as suggested ways individuals and the local church can be agents of change. Here are their thoughts:

Rodriguez: “The same evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump have an obligation to serve the least of these.”

Wright: “We get our guidance from the Word of God, not talk radio. People were floored by Johnson Ferry’s (his church) work with refugees and sent donations. That gives us a witness for Christ.”

Sorenson: Familiarize yourself with what God has to say about the foreigner in the Scriptures. Listen to the stories of refugees themselves.  

Yang: If you haven’t contacted elected officials, call them. Write them. “Our response to refugees is not a test of our politics. It’s a test of our faith.”

Hammond: Elected officials need to hear positive stories from Christian involvement with refugees. Go to town hall events and ask question about these issues.

Joy Allmond

Joy Allmond is the managing editor of Facts & Trends, and has also written for Crosswalk.com, LifeWay, WORLD magazine, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Greg. 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