The rise of the fragile Christian: How ease is becoming a way of life

September 13, 2017

When life is hard, it’s hard. Pain is not a fiction. Stressors can confuse and discourage us. Sometimes we bend, buckle, and even break under the weight of our responsibilities. Consequently, we do not always think or behave as we should.

Depression and other emotional health challenges are a way of life for many Christians. A widely prevalent generational family dysfunction has left many adults totally unprepared for marriage and parenting expectations. Cultural pressures moving away from traditional gender and sexuality norms create confusion and conflict in our hearts and often in many of our relationships. Just to pile on, cynicism and hypercriticism on the political front has never been higher.

None of this is easy, and much of it is overwhelming. So renewed efforts to build greater empathy, to show compassion to the broken, and to care for the vulnerable are more important than ever. For the Christian, however, the responsibilities of justice and mercy are ours to give as much as they are ours to receive.

Jesus said whoever wants to be first must become a slave (Matthew 20:27). He said He had nowhere to lay His head (Matthew 8:20). His life of love for others was characterized by personal sacrifice. In Dietrich Bonheoffer’s Cost of Discipleship, he wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” More recently, David Platt wrote,

While most Western Christians accept the idea of self-sacrifice, many seem ill-prepared for what the Gospel actually requires. Rather than the saints showing up for the work of ministry, we are witnessing the rise of an army of fragile Christians who would rather cling to privilege than carry their cross.

This fragility shows up in at least three areas of life:


Although the apostle Peter wrote, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12), the fragile Christian often finds the disagreeable or even opposing forces bearing down on them as unusual. Even small sacrifices are seen as a nuisance or interruption rather than as privilege.

These fragile Christians react in shock when people who have no allegiance to Jesus, and perhaps no real knowledge of Him, make moral decisions that are counter to a biblical worldview. They forget that sin’s power darkens the heart and sears the conscience of the unbeliever. Instead of being grieved over sin and motivated to bear witness of the redeeming work of Jesus, the fragile Christian gets offended, frightened, or both.

This moment in history, however, calls for more than cowering defensiveness. Jesus who created heaven and earth and conquered the grave lives in us, and His Gospel is still the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). So rather than shouting down everyone who offends us, we can trust Jesus as we engage the culture with a winsome joy, practical compassion, and steady confidence.


Despite all the forces working against it, God’s design for marriage is still best for everyone.

When sin entered the world, family life got a lot more difficult, but it didn’t make it impossible. Even outside of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were restored to God and to each other, established a home, had children, and made a life for themselves. Yes, they suffered great loss, but they experienced the amazing grace and mercy of God as well.

Despite all the forces working against it, God’s design for marriage is still best for everyone. God-given roles and responsibilities for husbands and wives are still superior to any alternative. Yet the fragile Christian wants to abandon God’s design to experiment with more comfortable or culturally normative options. Fragile men chase hobbies over holiness in a chronic effort to avoid their responsibilities of spiritual leadership. They make distraction rather than duty a way of life. Fragile women insist on rights and freedoms at the expense of upholding child rearing as the greatest privilege known to the human race.

On the parenting front, we know that some children need ongoing counseling or special medication, but fragile Christian parents assume their kids need therapy when in fact they just need consistent, compassionate spankings and other measured discipline that teach them that a little pain now can prevent great pain later.

Perhaps modern day parents didn’t see a good parenting model during their childhood, but the fragile Christian parent blames others, escapes to Netflix, and refuses to learn from the experience and wisdom of their church family or from the plethora of Christian books, blogs, and conferences available. Too busy chasing their dreams or nurturing their insecurities, they refuse to submit to God’s Word, learn something new, and break the pattern of nominalism and dysfunction.

It does not have to be like that. Family life comes with many challenges, but ours is not the first generation to experience the complex and contrary hardships in the home. Obedience is possible outside the garden. Men and women still discover their greatest joy (and success) on the old path of God’s biblical design for manhood, womanhood, and childrearing.


Solomon the Wise, said, “There is an occasion for everything; a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, CSB). The ebb and flow of life is constant and constantly changing. Certain seasons require something of us that other seasons do not. We can do some activities when we are young that we cannot do when we are old. We have opportunities later in life that were not possible when we were starting out. We go through seasons of health, seasons of suffering, seasons of prosperity, and seasons of want.

These seasons, however, are not parenthetical to the sovereign work of God in our lives. There are no inconsequential detours on the Christian’s timeline. Instead, these seasons are a gift inviting us into the middle of God’s eternal work.

Fragile Christians, however, make excuses for delayed obedience. They assume that the next season will be better than this one for listening to God, making disciples, or advancing Jesus’ Kingdom. They assume they will give when they have more money, mentor when they have more experience, or go when they have more time.

Without question, none of us can do everything in every season of life, but every season requires self-sacrifice. That sacrifice means we delay gratification, we put others first, and we do things we don’t want to do in order to become what God intends for us to be. Obedience is usually inconvenient, but today’s obedience creates tomorrow’s opportunities.

As it turns out, Christian self-abandonment asks us to do more than agree to terms and conditions, but to practically live with the consequences of them in every realm of life. Our weaknesses are real, but they are never an excuse for indifference to the Gospel mission. Instead, it is in weakness that the humble, dependent, and determined Christian experiences the perfecting power of God (2 Corinthians 12:9) and joins His activity to turn the attention of the world to the glory of His Son.

Daryl Crouch

Following 28 years in pastoral ministry, Daryl Crouch now leads Everyone’s Wilson, a community transformation initiative that helps churches bring the whole community around every school so that every student, educator, and family can live whole. He’s married to Deborah, and they have four children. 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