The stories of 2022 we don’t want to forget

December 29, 2022

In the modern era of the 24/7 news cycle, it’s easy to begin each day looking for the latest breaking tidbit. The amount of information we all digest is unimaginable to previous generations, and much of what we take in we simply forget. But the people of God are those who are called to ponder and discern (Psa 101:2; Rom. 12:2). As we close the book on 2022, some of the ERLC staff have reflected on the stories that they don’t want to forget because of their significance. Whether they mark truly historical moments, consider important ethical questions, or reflect the priorities of a particular season of life, all are meaningful and help us recognize our deep need for our Sovereign God. May this exercise encourage you to prayerful reflection and humble dependence on the Lord, as well. 

“The invasion of Ukraine is what stands out for me in 2022. A good college friend of mine has served as a missionary there since 2005, so I watched news updates with a personal lens. What I remember being struck by is how it felt like history books had come alive. Studying history you read about past wars and which country invaded who, but you don’t expect (or at least I didn’t) to see that happening in real time. And however doom and gloom the news seemed about Ukraine, there was always an element of hope that sprung up. Whether it was watching Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy post a video on social media about his commitment to stay and fight or a pianist playing her piano in a bombed-out home, hope seemed to remain, despite all the tragedy. This is exactly what I want to focus on as we approach the end of 2022 and the holiday season: hope brought by an incarnate Savior 2,000 years ago will always reign supreme.” – Julie Masson, Director of External Engagement

“One of my favorite stories from the past year has been the emergence of a number of pro-family policies from lawmakers in the wake of the Dobbs decision. That was such a historic moment and the culmination of decades of dedicated advocacy, but it also really opened the eyes of many to the gaps in support for vulnerable women and families. To that end, this summer at the SBC annual meeting, messengers affirmed ‘pro-life and pro-family policies that serve and support vulnerable women, children, and families.’ Over the fall, I worked to develop some guiding principles for ERLC’s engagement on this issue, and I was able to lay out those principles and make the case for our support in this article of ERLC’s Light Magazine, ‘A vision for a pro-family world: Why policies that help families foster a pro-life culture.’”Hannah Daniel, Policy Manager 

“Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to talk with Gretchen Smeltzer who founded a ministry called, Into the Light, that combats human trafficking. This issue is one that we don’t like to think about and often feels far removed from us. But in reality, many in our country and abroad are being exploited and abused by predators in this horrifying industry. I don’t want to lose sight of the important calling God has placed on our lives as believers to protect and advocate for the vulnerable among us.” – Elizabeth Bristow, Press Secretary

“My daughter was in speech therapy this year because of a delay, so the story, ‘“Parentese” Is Truly a Lingua Franca, Global Study Finds’ hit me at the right time. It says that across the world people, no matter their language, speak to babies in the same kind of cadence and tone. It reminded me of the truth that children are a universal gift from God, and that parenting and the family are a universal feature of humanity.” – Alex Ward, Lead Researcher

“I think of two articles, ‘Is the Lesser of Two Evils the Right Question’ by Dana McCain and ‘What Makes a Vote Moral or Immoral? The Ethics of Voting’ by Jonathan Leeman. I commend them both along the same lines, that as Christians, our standard of righteousness must be weighed and measured by what God says in his word. All other scales of righteousness fail, and as Dana McCain says, ‘When we misrepresent our imperfect choices as truly righteous, we compromise our integrity and misrepresent our Savior before a lost and dying world. We make it harder for the people we’re called to evangelize to believe us about the most important thing—the gospel of Jesus Christ.’” – Mark Owens, ERLC Podcast Producer

“Every day at nearly every turn, we’re faced with new challenges as we are bombarded with content, entertainment, and messages that challenge a faithful understanding of the biblical sexual ethic. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed as we walk through what seems like uncharted territory. But no matter what we face in our ever-shifting culture, God’s design for human sexuality has never changed. The event, ‘Discipling Your Church for a World in Sexual Crisis,’ that we hosted back in June helped remind the Church how we can navigate these challenges with both the truth of God’s Word and design as well as the grace found in the gospel message. We all need to be reminded that our sexuality is not the defining aspect of our humanity, but it is central to what it means to be human.” – Jason Thacker,  Director of the Research Institute and Chair of Research in Technology Ethics

“I have spent many hours over the last year speaking with pro-life leaders in settings both professional and private. Yet, my conversation with Karen Ellison, founder of Deeper Still, brought to the forefront for me the millions of Americans, men and women, who are still dealing with the effects of an abortion years and decades later. She said, ‘There is a huge population of Christians who are abortion-wounded, and they are not talking about it.’ So many of those are anticipating judgment from fellow believers, and I believe the Church must grapple with this reputation. It is my prayer that our churches will do the hard work required to have both a culture of life and a culture of healing, so that they can welcome those in the depths of their brokenness and help them find freedom.” – Jill Waggoner, Content Editor

“I’m not sure how I could ever forget it, but the astounding pro-life victory in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the story that stands out to me. The overturning of Roe v. Wade was almost 50 years in the making and a reminder that sometimes good, worthwhile work takes years. The victory magnifies the tireless and bold work of so many who were driven by their conviction that God created every individual, no matter how young and helpless, with innate dignity. It reminds me that nothing is too hard for the Lord and that our times are in his hands. It’s a shot of adrenaline in the arm of the pro-life movement that, by God’s grace, will sustain many, many more years of advocating for the preborn and vulnerable moms at the state level. Lest we doubt that our work matters, all we have to do is recall what wonderful things God did through those committed to advocating for the smallest among us.”  – Lindsay Nicolet, Director of Content 

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