The Human Rights Campaign releases deceptive evangelical resource

July 18, 2018

Last week, the Human Rights Campaign—arguably the nation’s most influential LGBT organization—announced a new initiative aimed at persuading evangelicals to understand that there is no conflict in being both evangelical and pro-LGBT.  Titled “Coming Home to Evangelicalism and to Self,” the resource attempts to offer evangelical Christians a path forward to endorse LGBT identities. In their own words, “The HRC Foundation’s Coming Home series is designed to help LGBTQ people live fully in their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and live fully in their religious, spiritual and cultural traditions.”

To the innocent observer, the resource looks like an evangelical-friendly resource designed to show evangelicals how they can retain their evangelical bona fides while also adopting an affirming position on LGBT identities. Statistics are marshaled showing how an inevitable shift toward LGBT inclusion is supposedly underway among younger evangelicals. The pamphlet accuses evangelicals who retain a biblical view of sex and gender of hewing to a “power dynamic” and exuding “privilege” aimed at ferreting out rejection of LGBT persons.

It is clear, however, that the resource relies heavily on activist voices who for some time have been engaged in a campaign of biblical subterfuge. Voices like Matthew Vines, David Gushee, Brandan Robertson and others are featured in the resource as vanguards of a new kind of Christianity, a Christianity that is modern, enlightened, and attuned to the complex world of sexual identity. Observers should understand that the work of these individuals is centered, almost exclusively, on getting evangelicals to abandon biblical authority and capitulate to the sexual revolution. For this reason, they should be ignored and regarded as false teachers (Jude 4; Matt. 7:15-16).

To be clear, the “evangelical” voices profiled in this resource are in no sense evangelical, and the Human Rights Campaign is being deceptive to communicate otherwise. These voices might deploy such language, but calling oneself an evangelical does not make oneself an evangelical if core tenets of evangelicalism—among them biblical authority—are emptied of their original meaning.

Though intended to be brief, the pamphlet fails to explain how LGBT identities can be reconciled with the church’s clear teaching over its entire 2,000-year history. There’s a reason for this failure: The church’s teaching can no more be reconciled to error than light can have fellowship with darkness. The witness of Scripture and Christian history speak unambiguously to the incompatibility of Christianity with sexual immorality. A bibliography is provided that offers revisionist hermeneutics, but no voice listed is credibly received either as an evangelical or anyone with a high view of biblical authority. This is a classic example of defining the term “evangelical” down to make it mean nothing.

For that reason alone and many others, these voices and the resource itself in no way represent a faithfully evangelical account of Christian sexual identity. The version of evangelicalism presented in this resource is a revisionist account more akin to mainline Protestantism, and in that sense, represents no kind of Christianity at all. The resource is little more than a grievance manual wherein progressive voices exalt personal testimony over obedience to Scripture at the expense of the clear witness of Scripture and over two thousand years of unambiguous church teaching.

It is evident that the Human Rights Campaign is attempting to poach evangelicals. They are asking evangelicals to turn their backs to Scripture, church history, and reason. This is not insignificant, and evangelicals should not countenance their demands. The Human Rights Campaign can only tread into such territory if it believes it has a reasonable chance of success at convincing evangelicals of the error of their ways. This represents a full-court press by progressive organizations to force evangelicals to abandon their ways. This is not a resource aimed at widening evangelicalism. It is a resource intended to have evangelicals cease being evangelical. Observers should understand that the Human Rights Campaign and the voices in this resource are no friends of evangelicals.

Efforts like those of the Human Rights Campaign are why the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, in partnership with the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, released the Nashville Statement in August 2017. A statement of evangelical conviction on marriage, gender, and sexuality, the Nashville Statement exists to equip evangelical Christians with a biblical and theological foundation centered around biblical authority and its witness on how God ordered his creation. It counteracts errors like those listed in HRC’s manual by offering a concise and faithful representation of biblical orthodoxy that takes seriously the authority of Scripture. While the Human Rights Campaign’s resource purports to speak for a growing number of evangelicals, the Nashville Statement represents actual evangelical institutions and recognized evangelical leaders who retain an unswerving commitment to biblical orthodoxy.

The saddest element of the Human Rights Campaign’s evangelical resource is that it fails to be properly inclusive. The Human Rights Campaign and the voices in this resource represent a perspective that would have people remain in their sin, robbing them of the all-inclusive love of Jesus Christ who calls all sinners to repent and follow him (Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Tim. 4:15; Titus 2:11-12). The Human Rights Campaign is not offering readers good news, which means the “evangel” of evangelicalism is not only unrecognizable, but gone. They are leading their readers toward the very opposite of good news.

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

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