Evangelicals for Life: Day 3

January 28, 2017

Panel: Death and Disease—Respecting Human Dignity Throughout All of Life (Daniel Darling—moderator, Scott James, Paige Cunningham, Benjamin Mast and Ben Mitchell)

Every human being will age and face death. And as Paige Cunningham pointed out during the panel, most people will have to make a bioethical decision—whether for themselves or for a family member. How should evangelicals equip themselves to deal with the inevitable? And how should pastors ready their congregations to embrace the elderly, the sick and the dying?

Here are a few thoughts from the panel:

Mast: There is a misconception that older people are sick or when they are confused or forgetful they are no longer a whole person. Instead of looking at them as a whole person made in the image of God, we fail to realize they have the same emotional needs as the rest of us. Alzheimer affects individuals, and the whole family,

Cunningham: How visible are the elderly in your congregation? It sends a message of how we view them. Are they wise or a nuisance? The church should not fear death and dying. We are called to die well to the glory of God to show to how to live through suffering, whether through disease or aging.

Mitchell: What we say at the beginning of life has application at the end of life. We say an embryo (not fully developed) is a whole, complete, human being. So when a person is aged or diseased and lost some faculties, that person is also a whole, complete human being. Also, churches should be more involved in hospice to care for and minister to people in the final stages of life.

James: Healthcare is a pro-life issue. Finding cures for disease is a pro-life act. We want people to thrive and flourish. Pro-life advocates should be involved in healthcare because it involves common good of our citizens.

Protecting Life: Pursuing Policies That Uphold Human Dignity (Jennifer Marshall)

How we can be focused on most important aspects of what needs to be done in this particular season? The Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshall is encouraged to see a declining abortion rate, but outlined what needs to happen for it to continue momentum.

  1. Permanently ending taxpayer funding of abortion. The taxpayer funding should not go to organizations, like Planned Parenthood, who perform abortions. A year ago Congress began an investigation into Planned Parenthood and the selling of human body parts. The results, released earlier this month comprise a 418-page document, showing they did, indeed, profit.
  2. Ban abortion of unborn children who can feel pain. Senator Lindsey Graham is working to bring awareness to this issue, citing that if a baby needs anesthesia for prenatal surgery, they can feel pain. The United States is one of seven countries who perform elective late-term abortion.
  3. Respect conscience. No one should ever be coerced to perform an action they feel is wrong. Congress can pass the Conscience Protection Act—to protect people from participating in or subsiding
  4. Repeal Obamacare. It dictates what employers must offer.

“While Congress works on repealing Obamacare, President Trump should act immediately to halt the Health and Human Services mandate,” she said. “And to stop the transgender mandate that requires doctors to offer transgender treatment.”

While Marshall is encouraged about the position of the current administration on these issues, she says the church should remain diligent. “Whether standing for life at the United Nations, passing common sense health laws, resisting assisted suicide, we need to redouble our efforts.”

Unexpected Advocates: Embracing Divine Opportunities to Save Lives and Protect Conscience (Kristen Waggoner)

Kristen Waggoner, a senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom who leads U.S. legal advocacy, gave examples of soldiers in the fight for freedom of conscience. Here are a few:

While most people will not be involved in conscience-related lawsuits, Waggoner urged the Evangelical for Life crowd to be faithful in their mundane daily lives.

“Christ Jesus has called us to do good work,” she said. “To be outwardly focused and be culture makers for his glory.”

Panel: Why Legislation Matter for the Pro-Life Cause (Andrew Walker—moderator, Michael Wear, Jennifer Marshall, Kristen Waggoner, Travis Wussow and Timothy Goeglein)

A panel of policy workers and attorneys gathered to discuss the role of policy in the pro-life movement. Here are some of their contributions to the conversation:

Wear: The repeal of the Hyde Amendment is a bridge too far it moves from whether abortion should be legal to whether it is a moral wrong.

Goeglein: “We have entered into the high water mark of the pro-life movement since 1973. The political class has followed what is happening in the culture” (citing the example of the Mexico City Policy executive order).

Waggoner: “There are challenges for pro-life movement, but we have to have the freedom to speak about our belief regarding life.

On the significance of Vice President Pence addressing the March for Life:

Wussow: “It’s extraordinary because it show Washington is taking note of the shift in culture. The young crowd (at the march) gave me hope. It’s helpful to have a visible advocate like Vice President Pence in the White House.”

Goeglein: “The way we shape public sentiment is important, and it begins in the White House.”

The Beauty of Diversity: Celebrating the Dignity of Every Tribe, Tongue and Nation (Jackie Hill Perry)

Artist and poet Jackie Hill Perry is “grieved and grateful” that God has shown the church her blind spots when it comes to diversity.

Perry highlighted several things that should happen in the heart before we celebrate diversity:

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