Raising daughters in today’s culture

June 17, 2014

I have two amazing girls who are now adult women—wives and mothers, using their gifts to serve others. One of my daughters is a writer and teacher, serving alongside her husband in planting a church in Thailand. My younger daughter is a Physician Assistant (PA) who will give birth any day to her son, Caleb. (Since I wrote this post, our daughter delivered a beautiful, healthy grandchild!) She has served with her husband as youth pastor and now bags are packed as they head to medical school.

This is a great season with my daughters but I do remember some harder times like when they were in middle school and going through the “mouth” stage. I remember telling Rodney he could raise them or they might not live!

Every culture and every time has its challenges but the basics taught to us in Scripture stay the same. Just ask your parents or better yet your grandparents what the challenges were in their day. A different set for sure but still a challenge. Rodney and I have been in marriage and family ministry now for almost thirty years. We don’t have all the answers, but here are some things we have learned as parents of daughters:

1. Be positive. Don’t groan about the challenges but accept the opportunity and blessing of parenting. Your children will quickly notice if you have the joy of parenting. They need to know that even when it’s hard, you see it is as a privilege to be their mom and dad.

2. You must be “all in” as parents. Parenting is a commitment to engage with your children. There is no room for passive parenting. You need the spiritual workout daily to be a fit parent (physical health is important, too.) Be actively engaged until you launch them from the home. Many parents start out strong then lose that engagement in the teen years. See it through.

3. Pray and then pray some more. I can still remember my mom and dad on their knees praying for me during the teen years. Seeing them pray made such an impact in my life. When my oldest daughter became interested in a young boy we didn’t feel good about, we prayed. Soon his parents sent him to live with his grandparents several states away. Jennifer joked with friends to be careful of her parents who pray! Seek God in all your parenting. He created your children, gifted them, and loves them even more than you do.

4. The best partner in parenting is the church. I am so thankful for other moms who were spiritual mothers to my girls—nursery workers, preschool teachers, and youth leaders. All were critical partners in raising my daughters to own their own faith. Even today as grown women, my girls still have people in the church that pray for them and encourage them in their faith. There’s nothing like the support of other moms to pray with you as you raise your daughters.

5. Open home. From preschool through high school, having your daughter’s friends over to your house is a great way for you to understand the issues, challenges, and culture your daughter lives in. It is critical that your daughter has friends and this open home view will give you the opportunity to know her friends. It is messy and takes a great deal of investment but it is so worth the benefits.

6. Live an authentic faith. It isn’t about you being perfect, in fact your daughter needs to see you struggle with life issues but also see that you trust God in all things. She needs to see you live out your faith daily through prayer, time in God’s Word, and as you share your faith with others. If you want her to love the church, you need to show her how to love the pastor and God’s people.

7. Tell your girls they are beautiful. Get their attention. When our girls were little, we had a little game we would play where we would say, “Look at our nose.” This meant we had their attention and were looking at them in the eyes. This is a great teaching position for children. We wanted them to hear from us regularly that God had made them, that God had a plan for them, and that they were beautifully and wonderfully made by God. Our culture is so “beauty” focused and self-esteem issues are huge for girls in our culture. Make sure you counter this with speaking the truth of God’s Word to them often.

8. Bring out the gifts you see in them. We saw the creative gifts in Jennifer as a young girl and we saw the gift for science in Natalie as a young girl. Help develop the gifts God has given your daughter. It is part of God’s plan for their lives. One of the joys of parenting is watching those gifts come to life in your children.

9. Daddy’s girl. A strong relationship with their father is so important to girls. If that isn’t possible, find a godly man who will be involved in their life. I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is that girls are cherished by their fathers. Loved. Blessed. Told they are beautiful. A father teaches his daughters how a man should treat a woman. Rodney took the girls on “daddy dates” from the time they were in preschool up through high school. Those times were so critical for the girls as they developed into young women.

10. A few rules is enough. God gave us the Ten Commandments and hundreds of promises. You want that balance in your home. A few strong rules but hundreds of blessings and promises from God. One absolute rule we had in our home was respect for all family members. Another was every family member had a job to do. We had other rules and the rules changed with each season but we tried to have more “yes” themes in our home than “no” themes.

I would love to hear some of your insights or challenges in raising girls today.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut. 6:5–7).

This article was originally posted here.

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