What do our words say to a watching world?

Glorifying God by respecting those with whom we disagree

July 22, 2020

Our world is in turmoil. All you need to do is turn on the news or open your social media apps to find a volcano of responses—differing opinions on how to handle the world health crisis, whether states should reopen or stay closed, accusations of racism and injustice, and tense debates that seem like personal attacks. If you desire states to reopen, some think you don’t truly care about the health of our nation. If you desire them to stay closed, then you’re said to be promoting an economic crisis. If you march in a protest, you’re accused of contributing to the riots and anarchy. If you choose not to protest, you’re accused of not caring about racial injustice. It’s a lose-lose situation. 

In our fallen world, we can’t be too surprised at the outpouring of emotional and angry responses. Yet in the midst of all of the turmoil, do followers of Christ appear any different than our unbelieving neighbors? Have we considered how our responses affect those watching and listening to us? All it takes is a quick look at Twitter or Facebook to see the mud-slinging between the body of Christ when there is a difference of opinion. From name calling, to snarky remarks, to shaming—even questioning whether someone can really be a Christian while holding to their view. Do we believe the best about our brothers and sisters in Christ, or do we assume the worst? 

Galatians 5:14-15 gives us a dire warning, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” 

As Christians, we’re to be beacons of light and hope. We’re to offer peace to a hurting world by pointing them to the sacrificial love of Christ. We’re to love our neighbor as we love our own body, caring for and nourishing it. But our biting words begin to consume our thoughts and affections, leading to animosity toward those sitting in the church pew next to us with different views. It’s a slippery slope that leads to division in the body of Christ and an ugly witness to the world. 

Dealing with different opinions and opponents

How will we draw the unbelieving world to Christ if we’re shaming and slamming one another, standing self-righteously in our own opinions, unwilling to listen to those around us? We’re supposed to be known by our love for one another (John 13:35). How can we have unity in our churches when so many varying opinions exist? The Bible speaks to how we’re to interact with those around us, especially with those who stand in opposition to what we believe. 

Titus 3:2 reminds us to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Notice that it doesn’t say we’re to show perfect courtesy to those who agree with us, but to all people. This includes those who are diametrically opposed to what we’re saying. 

James 1:19 reminds us to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. Have we truly listened to those who share a different opinion than our own? Or are we formulating our response and just wanting to be heard? 

In 2 Timothy 2:14, Paul instructs Timothy to charge the people “not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.” Yes, we should defend the gospel. But how many of our debates as believers are unprofitable? People are listening to our conversations within the church. And Paul gives us a dire warning: that these types of quarrels will destroy the hearers. Are our words promoting love in the body of Christ? Or are they leading to division? 

Later, in 2 Timothy 2:24-25, Paul gives Timothy a model of how followers of Christ should behave, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.” Paul acknowledges that we will have opponents. And, we’ll have different opinions within the body of Christ. There will be instances where it is appropriate to passionately defend our view. Yet, will we do so with a spirit of gentleness or pride? Our words are to be sweet like honey, increasing persuasiveness and full of grace.  

Before we speak, post, or respond, let’s examine our own hearts. Do we truly care about the injustice surrounding us? Or, do we want to prove ourselves to be right? Do we need to respond publicly to every opinion that’s different than our own? Can we admit that we might be wrong about something? 

Our main concern as believers should be to glorify God with our words and actions and to uphold the value of all humans as being made in the image of God. Our hearts should mourn the trouble that surrounds us, and we should be zealous to love our neighbor, regardless of our differences. Let’s keep first things first and remember that our words and actions are representing Jesus to a watching world. 

Stacy Reaoch

Stacy Reaoch is a pastor’s wife, mother of four and co-author of Making Room for Her- Biblical Wisdom for Healthier Relationship with Your Mother-In-Law or Daughter-In-Law. She’s passionate about studying the Bible and helping women apply God’s life-changing truths to their daily lives. Stacy lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her … 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