One story behind the pro-life Super Bowl ad you didn’t see this year

February 3, 2020

Josiah Presley, one of the abortion survivors featured in a 30-second ad that Fox Sports chose not to run during the Super Bowl, is a Criswell College graduate and a youth pastor at Galloway Avenue Baptist Church in Mesquite, Texas. 

“Can you look me in the eye and tell me that I shouldn’t be alive?” Presley asks in the ad made by Faces of Choice. The group’s founder said she repeatedly met additional terms set forth by Fox and in the end was not given a suitable reason why the ad was rejected. 

“We are the survivors of choice. We are the faces of choice,” abortion survivors say in the ad. 

When she was two months pregnant, Presley’s mother in South Korea had a curettage abortion, which “is the type of abortion where a doctor goes into a mother’s womb and rips the baby apart and brings him out in pieces,” Presley told the TEXAN. 

The woman was sent home, but a few months later she realized the abortion “had actually failed and I was still very much alive,” he said. Presley was born in 1995 and placed with a foster home in South Korea. At 13 months, Randy and Kathy Presley of Norman, Oklahoma, adopted him and raised him along with nine other adopted children and two biological children. 

Presley has a deformed arm, which is believed to have been caused by the type of abortion attempted. Throughout his childhood, he struggled secretly with low self-esteem, thinking he was less than others because of his deformity. “I thought I wouldn’t go anywhere in life,” he said.

When he was 13 years old, Presley’s parents told him he had survived an abortion. Though he was grateful to know his story, the news sent him deeper into darkness. 

“It became apparent to me at that time that my life actually was worthless because the people who should have loved me the most thought my life was so unvaluable they tried to take it,” Presley said. 

As a young teenager, Presley developed hatred toward anyone who was pro-choice, including abortion doctors, post-abortive women and Planned Parenthood workers. “I thought they were the scum of the earth because it was people like them who made me the way I was, so broken,” he said.

All the while, he continued projecting a good church kid façade at Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, where his father was a worship pastor. The summer after his sophomore year of high school, God got Presley’s attention at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center in Oklahoma. The camp pastor that week talked about the Greek word dunamis and how God imparts in the believer the power to overcome the trials of the world.

“I remember thinking I didn’t have that in my life,” Presley said. 

He accepted Christ as his Savior that week and started seeing changes in his outlook. He realized his value was not in what he did but in the fact that he was created in the image of a God who had a purpose for his life, he said. 

“He has proven his love to me by dying on a cross for the punishment of my sins when I was far from him,” Presley said. 

As God worked in his heart, Presley was convicted of the hatred he had toward his birth parents for the choices they made. “He has forgiven me of so much, the least I can do is forgive them for the wrongs they committed against me,” he said. “I found forgiveness there, and I found healing there.”

Presley graduated from Criswell College with a psychology degree in 2018, is married to Bethany, and works as a student success manager at Criswell while serving as a youth pastor. 

He lamented the 60 million lives lost to abortion in the United States since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. 

“We live in a culture that tells women, ‘If you want to get ahead in life, if you want to go anywhere in life, you have to take a life,’” Presley said. “We live in a culture that tells men, ‘Fulfill the passions of your flesh, and you are not held responsible for your actions.’ 

“We live in a world that applauds evil as seen by its support of the taking of the most innocent of human beings’ lives. That’s a culture of death.”

The only light strong enough to overcome that kind of darkness, he said, is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“If you’re a follower of Christ, that light has been placed within you, and it is your calling and your duty to take that light into the world,” Presley said, pointing to Matthew 5.

The task starts with loving neighbors, those who are born “so that the world believes it when we say we love our unborn neighbor,” he said.

It also means caring for and loving the abortion doctor, the Planned Parenthood worker, the abortion-minded woman and the post-abortive woman, Presley said.

“Why? Because they’re people created in the image of God.”

Though he was disappointed, Presley said he wasn’t surprised Fox Sports chose not to air the Super Bowl ad that Faces of Choice submitted. He hopes the chatter that has followed the decision will still get the message into American homes, especially as pro-life people direct others to the various abortion survivor videos at facesofchoice.org.

“Love your neighbor in a tangible way so that as we speak for truth, as we affirm the value of human life, the world knows it by the way we value the lives of the born.”

“Our prayer is that it still has an impact and it still shows people the truth of what abortion is,” he said.

Though some people may want to boycott the Super Bowl because Fox chose to run a Sabra hummus ad featuring drag queens and not one with a pro-life message, Presley said an additional response could be to watch the game with unchurched friends or family and use what happened to the Faces of Choice ad as a springboard to talk about the value of every human life.

“They might not go to church with you, but they might watch the Super Bowl with you, and you might just in that moment have that opportunity to start a conversation about life,” he said.

People inspired by the ad’s message can get involved in the pro-life movement by looking for crisis pregnancy centers in their cities where they can get involved or by joining pregnancy help or adoption support ministries in their local churches, Presley said.

“Get involved in those ways. If there aren’t those ministries in your church, maybe God would call you to start those,” he said.

“Love your neighbor in a tangible way so that as we speak for truth, as we affirm the value of human life, the world knows it by the way we value the lives of the born.”

This story first appeared in the Southern Baptist TEXAN, available online at texanonline.net. Erin Roach is a correspondent for the TEXAN.

Erin Roach

Erin is a writer, wife, and mom. 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