Three takeaways from a Pennsylvania abortion video

Brian Sims and the hypocrisy of progressives

Social media has brought us another viral video about abortion. Brian Sims, a state representative in Pennsylvania, broadcast a video over the weekend in which he accosted and mocked several people for “protesting” outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic in his district. But instead of protesting, the people captured in Sims’ video had clearly gathered peacefully outside of the abortion clinic in order to pray. To be clear, the “protestors” involved are an elderly woman and several young girls.

Based on both the video evidence and Sims’ own description of the events, there is no indication that those outside of the clinic ever harassed or obstructed the movement of anyone seeking to enter or exit the clinic. Even so, Sims determined that the appropriate response to those who had gathered to pray was to berate and shame them. In addition to subjecting them to his offensive and demeaning tirade, Sims took the extra step of inviting those viewing the video online to doxx the young girls, whom he had targeted with his vitriol. “Doxxing” refers to exposing someone’s name and address without their consent in hopes of intimidating them with a deluge of hate.

The events are captured in two separate live stream recordings. In the first video, Sims encounters a woman whom he describes as “an old, white lady.” For nearly 10 minutes, this elected official films himself following, insulting, and harassing the woman up and down the sidewalk. Even as she essentially refuses to engage Sims’ comments, he persists in calling her “disgusting” and “racist.” Moreover, as he subjects her to this ridicule, he has the audacity to claim that although she has a legal right, she has no “moral right” to stand and pray outside of an abortion clinic. In his own words, “this isn’t Christianity.”

Sims’ harshness seems to know no limits. The state representative scurrilously scolds old women and young girls who are merely exercising their conscience and constitutional rights. Only a deranged commitment to abortion rights can explain the wickedness of Sims’ actions.

What does all of this mean?

Set aside for a moment the fact that Sims, a white man, attempts to disparage the woman by calling her “old” and “white.” In our own day, let’s compare Sims’ language with the rhetoric that moral progressivism has come to rely on in castigating its cultural opponents. A few terms come to mind that progressives have used—“War on Women” and “Toxic Masculinity”—to depict Christians and conservatives as brazen and insensitive to women or altogether anti-woman.

Do Sims’ actions resonate with these terms? Yes. They would be appalling for anyone to engage in; considering Sims’ is an elected official, they are simply discrediting.

Brian Sims is displaying gross hypocrisy and engaging in all the same sorts of intimidating tactics that moral progressives accuse Christians and conservatives of engaging in. Imagine an alternate scenario where a Republican official were to stand outside an abortion clinic treating pro-choice women the same way. The national media would be on this in an instant. A national flare-up would occur, and the official in question would likely resign. All of this means, apparently, that a “War on Women” and “Toxic Masculinity” are culturally approved totems when it comes to intimidating anyone opposed to abortion.

How is it anything other than a “War on Women” to broadcast intimidating threats to an elderly woman exercising her constitutional rights?

How is this episode anything other than an example of “Toxic Masculinity” wherein Sims verbally berates and intimidates young women, going so far as to expose them online? In an age where we should protect women, Sims’ actions intend to bring them harm.

Let’s call this what it is (which will likely not be named across our national media): An episode of unfathomable hypocrisy. Sims, a self-described LGBT activist, is engaging in the same types of behavior that his movement uses to score political points. This is not a man of high character, decent instinct, or sound judgment. The voters of his district need to examine whether a man of this temperament and lack of self-control is capable of engaging in the measured process of representing them in the halls of their state legislature.

Three takeaways

There are three quick takeaways from this episode.

First, there is an ideological derangement syndrome when it comes to abortion. For an individual to engage in this type of fevered rhetoric demonstrates the demonic elements at play when it comes to abortion. What rationally explains the willingness of a powerful figure to use his platform to see unborn children murdered? Nothing but a worldview gripped by a carnal desire for the death of innocent children. The absurdity of what progressives mean by “social justice” is rife with every inconsistency when a so-called champion of “social justice” engages in injustice.

Second, when it comes to the issue of hypocrisy that Sims himself displays, there’s also another example of hypocrisy worth noting: The silence of our mainstream media. Recall a few months ago when the Covington Catholic boys were accused of engaging in threats and intimidation toward a Native American activist during the March for Life. The national media went wild, believing that the MAGA-hat wearing Covington students were typifying all Trump voters. It all fed into a narrative that the media was happy to confirm. Eventually, news reports later demonstrated that the camera angle only told one part of the story. When the full story emerged, the Covington Catholic boys were vindicated of their one-sided wrongdoing. We both defend the mainstream media and read it regularly. But the failure of the mainstream media to draw attention to the outlandish behavior of Brian Sims only confirms the suspicions of many that the media only covers what it considers advantageous to its own narrative and political predilections.

Third, with the displays of hypocrisy and media silence suppressing this injustice, there’s a lesson for Christians to learn: The Bible calls us to be morally consistent. Ours is not a buffet morality where you choose the morality that is best suited for you, or your movement. We are called to live a morally principled and morally consistent life. This means naming acts of unrighteousness and hypocrisy for what they are, regardless of political affiliation. Moral righteousness ought not be tribal. In Christ, we are called to love God and love neighbor, which also means being clear-eyed in naming the moral offenses that transgress both.

The story of Brian Sims’ abusive conduct in Pennsylvania is not one that the culture should gloss over. In it is a small snapshot of just how ingrained the abortion worldview is in American politics, and how politics-as-usual will not overcome this treacherous worldview. Let us be angry; let us resolve to defend the innocent as they are led to the slaughter; but let us also pray for the redemption of sinners who are held captive by the Enemy.

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

Josh Wester

Joshua B. Wester is the lead pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. 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