If you had told me on my wedding day…

June 23, 2017

My wife and I recently celebrated our 18th anniversary. All those years ago, we would have never imagined what our life looks now. We didn’t set out to have a bunch of kids. We never had a goal to raise five children. We didn’t talk about adoption before we married, but here we are, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When you’re standing at the front of the church in your tuxedo on your wedding day, you can’t imagine all that’s ahead. If I had known then what I know now, I probably would have chickened out and bolted from the ceremony.

If you had told me on our wedding day that my backyard would one day have a deck, a grill, a geodesic play dome, a sand box, a zip line (with a deer stand), a tree house, a fire pit, a trampoline, a ninja rope, a slack line, a fire pit, a baseball pitch back and a tree swing, I would have rolled my eyes at you.

If you had told me that I would one day take all my vacation days so I could stay at home with the family, I would have wondered what you were talking about.

If you had told me that eventually we would have some boys I would love more than life itself, I would have questioned you.

If you had told me that I would one day be primarily concerned that my boys would see their dad love their mother well, I would have had a hard time imagining that.

If you had told me that I would one day be more concerned about the health of my family than the wealth of my family, I would have secretly questioned you.

Just the other day, my four-year-old asked me if I was old. I said, “No, Daddy’s young.” He then said, “Granddad’s old.” I said, well he’s older than mom and dad. He said, “Granny’s old.” (Granny was Grandad’s mom.)  I said, “Remember, Granny died and went to heaven.” He said, “Oh yeah, Granddad’s old then.” If you had told me that this would be one of the best conversations I would ever have, I would have smirked at you.

We didn’t talk about adoption before we married, but here we are, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you had told me that Amy and I would one day celebrate our anniversary at Oakfield Baseball Complex watching a four-year-old tee-ball game and a 13-year-old baseball game, I would have said, “Probably not.”  But we did, and we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

If you had told me that my relationship with my wife would one day be even better, deeper and richer than it was on the day we married, I would not have believed you.

If you had told me that in years to come I would grow in grace and realize more about the truth of the gospel and Christ’s love for the church, I could not have anticipated it.

On my wedding day, I would have nodded affirmatively to the truth that marriage is God’s design. I’ve read Genesis 2:24 hundreds of times: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” But there is a big difference between intellectual assent and personal experience. Years of marriage, with all the ups and downs, have confirmed to me that this whole thing is not about us. It’s about God and his design.  

On my wedding day, I would have nodded affirmatively to the truth that marriage is a witness to a watching world. Back in 1999, I was excited about Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” But I have learned that there is a big difference between excitement and commitment.  When the world looks at a man trying to love his wife as Christ loved the church, they scrunch their eyebrows and scratch their heads.  Marriage has shown me that it’s about God and our witness before him.

On my wedding day, I would have nodded affirmatively to the truth that marriage is a tool for personal sanctification, but I didn’t realize that God would use our marriage like he has to shape me more into the image of Christ. We have a special yearly emphasis at the University where I work entitled “Faith in Practice.” Nowhere has my faith been put into practice like in my own home. Marriage has certainly been used of God to cause the fruit of the Spirit to grow more heartily in this sinner. I have a long way to go, but because of my marriage, I am more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. Hebrews 12:14 says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”  Few things have had as much positive impact on my striving for holiness like my relationship with my wife. Indeed, marriage has shown me that it’s about God’s working of sanctification in me.

On my wedding day, I would have nodded affirmatively to the truth that marriage is a platform for God’s glory. God’s design is marriage, and his desire is his own glory. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).  When a man and a woman live their lives to glorify God in all things, God’s desire is fulfilled, a couple’s joy is multiplied and a watching world takes notice. I have learned that the happiest couples are ones who say, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness” (Psa. 115:1).

If you had told me on my wedding day that through the institution of marriage I would know God, live for him, witness to him and serve him in an even greater way, I could not have imagined. It really is true, though. As I look through the wedding album this year and see all those pictures of us and our families and friends, I realize that our marriage never has been about us. It’s always been about our faithful God.

Todd E. Brady

Todd Brady is the Assistant Professor of Ministry and Vice President for University Ministries. He received his D.Min. at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, M.Div. at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and B.S. at Union University. 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