Glass ceiling contradictions

Whether celebrated by the Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Times or The Washington Post, media outlets have universally hailed Hillary Clinton for breaking a “glass ceiling” by becoming the first woman to be a major party’s nominee for president.

Likely a familiar term, but one worth briefly explaining, the “glass ceiling” theory refers to the unstated biases and limitations that prevent women and minorities from reaching higher levels of career development.

Seeing any person rise above the caricatures and unjust biases that prohibit talent from being recognized and rewarded is always an occasion worth celebrating.

The media was destined to focus on Clinton breaking the glass ceiling during this presidential cycle because of her reflection on her unsuccessful bid in 2008. During her concession speech, Clinton stated, "Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it.”

But amidst the celebration of Hillary Clinton’s successes, it’s worth highlighting the irony—and hypocrisy—involved in these universal declarations of feminine triumph: When the left celebrates Clinton breaking the glass ceiling, it reveals one of the many internal contradictions inherent to secular progressivism. How can a movement that emphasizes the fluidity of gender through relentless transgender advocacy simultaneously celebrate the feminine triumph of Hillary Clinton breaking the glass ceiling to become the first female presidential candidate?

The feminist mystique is built on the idea of the überfrau—the empowered woman who harnesses her innate femininity to the exclusion of a male counterpart. At the same time, the transgender movement denies any biological connection to femininity.

So that raises the obvious question: Is Hillary Clinton’s victory a celebration for women? To the feminist, yes; but to the transgender movement, no. How so?

It’s impossible to have a worldview that celebrates Clinton’s triumph while denying that there’s anything objective to womanhood or femininity; anything objective, that is, aside from a person’s subjective feelings and perspective about themselves. For transgender advocates, Clinton’s victory is, at best, symbolic and illusory, but it cannot be said to be an authentic victory for women since the very construct of what constitutes womanhood is disputed. This inherent conflict between claims of femininity and objective womanhood is captured in noted feminist Germaine Greer’s infamous comments decrying that transgender “women” are actually women.

The incoherencies of this worldview abound. It results in biological males competing in a female track championship and a successful female swimmer who is now hardly competitive at all because she identifies as a man and competes against other males. A worldview that denies essential and objective differences between men and women is a worldview that prohibits recognizing genuine successes and advances when they occur. What it means to be human, as a result, is in a state of free-fall and subject to insane propositions, for example, that men can menstruate. Once lunacy of this nature takes root, people can be made to believe anything. This is Orwellian, pure and simple.

If maleness and femaleness are simply a matter of self-will and psychological self-description, then Hillary Clinton’s success should not be a matter of importance to women. It’s just happenstance and arbitrary because femininity becomes a mere psychological paradigm—not an objective reality possible of celebrating. What’s more, insisting that a “cisgender” female like Clinton typifies the embodiment of female success actually reinforces the stereotypes that radical gender theorists decry.

Of course, don’t expect these inconsistencies to be noted or called out for their illogical basis. We’re far past the point of honest admission because the willing suspension of disbelief is the basis of modern progressive epistemology.

But how should Christians evaluate the simultaneous claims that feminine power has been achieved while denying that feminine power is tied to anything objective concerning personhood?

These incoherencies and contradictions of society are a part of a larger pattern that stems from our rebellion and alienation from God. Sin makes us inconsistent and capable of believing absurdities; absurdities for example, that allow the Clinton campaign to celebrate unborn life in one campaign video while also denying that unborn persons have rights. This makes no sense whatsoever, and no one pays any attention, because we’ve been habituated by a world that lives with inconsistencies.

Ultimately, the incoherencies on display are about choosing which story or narrative to live in—a story of creation where the pinnacle of God’s creative work includes men and women as created realities worthy of dignity, or a story that casts off creaturely limits in an attempt to find a peace within ourselves that, as Augustine said, can only be filled by God.

Let us remember that the cultural debate about sexuality and gender isn’t simply about men or women using the restroom of their choice. Instead, these flashpoints from these current events are merely a proxy debate for a larger conflict about what it means to be male and female. This question of biblical anthropology is the chief issue of our time under attack. As always, Christians must proclaim tireless truths: As Christians, we’re told God created us in His image.

God made men and women as equal, but distinct. These distinctions are beautiful, good and a testament to God’s wisdom in creation. God didn’t make us automatons. He didn’t make us asexual monads. He made us gendered, embodied and different. Those differences extend to all levels of our being—our emotional, physical and psychological selves—and this is intentional and good.

Christianity doesn’t sever gender from sex, because according to the Bible, the unique ways that God made our bodies are tied to our roles. Women are, by nature, more nurturing than men. Men, in contrast, are by nature made with a different body type designed for protection. Rewriting laws to conform to the spirit of the age cannot rewrite the laws of nature and nature’s God (Ps. 24:1).

The internal contradictions and inconsistencies of life and worldview apart from God are evident in many areas of contemporary society. Apart from Christ, we, too, live in worlds fragmented and torn apart by sin. But the good news of the gospel is that we don’t have to live in open rebellion to God’s Word and world. We don’t have to live inconsistently. We can live in open embrace of God’s rule, knowing that we can “be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:1-2).

Hillary Clinton may have shattered the glass ceiling as she earned the democratic presidential nomination. But the left’s celebration of her accomplishment in the midst of its transgender advocacy exposes a shattered worldview. Christians must be able to equip the church to live in a culture where they are walking on broken glass.

Andrew T. Walker

Andrew T. Walker is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Fellow with The Ethics and Public Policy Center. Read More

Phillip Bethancourt

Phillip Bethancourt is Senior Pastor of Central Church in College Station, Texas. Before he was called to pastor Central, he served as the Executive Vice President of the ERLC team. He completed an MDiv and PhD in Systematic Theology at Southern after attending Texas A&M University. Phillip and his wife, Cami, have been married since 2005, … 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