What you should know about the 2018 SBC state convention resolutions

November 30, 2018

Within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), resolutions have traditionally been defined as an expression of opinion or concern, as compared to a motion, which calls for action. A resolution is not used to direct an entity of the denomination to specific action other than to communicate the opinion or concern expressed. Each year, resolutions are passed during the annual meetings of the state conventions.

Highlighted below are some examples of resolutions on ERLC related issues from the 2018 conventions:

Alabama Baptist Convention

Resolution No. 1: On a Call for Prayer and Unity

RESOLVED, That we encourage all U.S. citizens to demonstrate unity in advocating freedom of speech and religious liberty for each other;

Resolution No. 2: On Christian Parenting for All Children

RESOLVED, That Alabama Baptists encourage all fathers and mothers to be equally committed to active participation in the challenges of raising their children in an atmosphere of healthy family life and that each play an effective personal role in the development of their children;

Arkansas Baptist State Convention

Resolution No. 2: On Opposition To Issue No. 4 – The Proposed Constitutional Amendment To Expand Casino Gambling To Four Arkansas Counties

RESOLVED, that should Issue No. 4 be approved and casino gambling is expanded in our state, we will endeavor to restore and rehabilitate individuals caught up in the destructive cycle of problem gambling, and will attempt to provide a safety net for the gamblers’ families and communities as we are called to do as Christ-followers.

Resolution No. 4: On Christian Citizenship And Civic Participation

RESOLVED, that we, the messengers to the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, meeting at Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Arkansas, October 23-24, 2018, encourage all believers to engage the culture by being informed and proactive citizens, by voting in all elections, by praying for all those in authority and positions of influence, and by participating appropriately in civic matters.

Resolution No. 5: On Christlike Communication And The Use Of Social Media

RESOLVED, that we guard our tongues, using caution and wisdom in our media and social media, and refrain from remarks that tear down others made in the image of God, including refraining from gossip and slander (Psa. 141:3; Prov. 6:16–19; 17:27–28; 21:23; James 3:10–12);

Illinois Baptist State Association

Resolution Concerning Churches’ Compassion Toward Infertility

RESOLVED, that said messengers urge IBSA churches to stand firm and together in helping parents during these times of struggle, indecision, and/or heartbreak so that everyone knows and understands they are part of the greater family of God and that their difficulty, problems, and/or struggles can be overcome through Christ. (Rom. 12:12)

Resolution Opposing the Teaching of LGBTQ Values in Illinois Schools

RESOLVED, that the messengers to the Illinois Baptist State Association meeting in Maryville, Illinois, November 7-8, 2018, urge IBSA churches and their members to stand against efforts to impose LGBTQ curricula and books upon the students, families, and citizens of the State of Illinois.

Resolution on Abuse and Prevention

RESOLVED, That we call on pastors and ministry leaders to foster safe environments in which abused persons may both recognize the reprehensible nature of their abuse and reveal such abuse to pastors and ministry leaders in safety and expectation of being believed and protected;

Missouri Baptist Convention

Resolution No. 4: On Pornography Being a Public Health Crisis

RESOLVED, that the Missouri Baptist Convention calls for education, prevention, research, strict enforcement of obscenity laws, and policy considerations where needed at the church, community and societal level in order to address the pornography epidemic that is harming the people of our state and nation.

Resolution No. 5: On the Prohibition of Legalizing Sports Gambling

RESOLVED, that we encourage our fellow Missouri Baptists and all other followers of Christ to refuse to participate in any form of gambling.

Resolution No. 6: On Marijuana Ballot Measures

RESOLVED, that we, the Missouri Baptist Convention, protect the people of our great state from the future legalization of recreational marijuana (through the initial step of legalizing medical marijuana) by urging a vote of “NO” on each of these three ballot issues;

Resolution No. 7: On Gun Violence

RESOLVED, that we affirm that it is the depravity, sinfulness, and wickedness of the human heart that gives birth to gun violence and mass shootings;

Resolution No. 8: On the Missouri Supreme Court’s Dred Scott Decision and Racial Reconciliation

RESOLVED, that the Missouri Baptist Convention call on the Missouri Legislature to formally denounce the decision of the Missouri Supreme Court of March 22, 1852, in that it contradicts the principle that “all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights”

Resolution No. 9: On Sexuality and Christian Identity

RESOLVED, that the messengers to the Missouri Baptist Convention meeting deny the validity of a “gay Christian” identity, recommit themselves to fight all forms of sinful temptation, and affirm the biblical portrait of the believer as one who has decisively broken with all sinful identity and practice and is with all Christ’s church a new creation who is being progressively sanctified by God

State Convention of Baptists in Ohio

Resolution No. 4: On Voting as an Expression of Christian Citizenship

RESOLVED, That we prayerfully urge the candidates for political office and the current officials to endorse the Biblical values upon which society should rest;

Resolution No. 6: On Biblical Sexuality and the Freedom of Conscience

RESOLVED, That we stand in solidarity with those whose jobs, professions, businesses, ministries, schools, and personal freedoms are threatened because their consciences will not allow them to recognize, promote, or participate in activities associated with unbiblical marriage;

Resolution No. 7:  On Reaching Refugees and People Groups in Ohio

RESOLVED, That we will be committed to extending Christian love and friendship to all people groups entering our state;

Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma

Resolution No. 3: For Foster Care and Adoption

Knowing that Christ calls us to minister to the vulnerable, and that Jesus modeled love and compassion toward all children and commands us to care for them, we call on Oklahoma Baptists to take an even more active role in foster care.

Resolution No. 5: For Sexual Integrity, Accountability

We deplore, apologize, and ask for forgiveness for failures to protect the abused, failures that have occurred in churches and ministries, including such failures among Southern Baptists. We condemn all forms of abuse and repudiate with a unified voice all abusive behavior as unquestionably sinful and under the just condemnation of our Holy God and should be properly reported to state/legal authorities.

Resolution No. 6: On Recreational Marijuana and the Abuse of Drugs

We pray that the citizens of Oklahoma will oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana and that the church will be proactive through Christ-centered ministries to reach people who are addicted to substances.

South Carolina Baptist Convention

Resolution on Medical Marijuana

RESOLVED, That we, the messengers of the South Carolina Baptist Convention meeting in North Charleston, November 13-14, 2018, are opposed to the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana;

Resolution on Racial Reconciliation

RESOLVED, That we profess our commitment to Build Bridges with the love of our Savior to make disciples of Jesus Christ across every cultural barrier to the glory of God the Father (Matt. 28:18–20, Acts 1:8).

Resolution on Sports Betting

RESOLVED, That we urge the members of the South Carolina General Assembly to reject state-sanctioned sports betting and any other expansion of gambling;

Resolution on Religious Liberty

RESOLVED, That we urge those in the legal profession to engage in defending the rights of those individuals, groups, or churches facing discrimination for their religious beliefs;

Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC)

Resolution No. 1: On Pastors and Political Engagement

RESOLVED, that we refuse to compromise the reputation of Christ and the clarity of the gospel message, regardless of perceived political implications or potential loss of religious liberty;

Resolution No. 3: On Justice Reform

RESOLVED, that we ardently call upon and pray for decision-makers at every level in the United States judicial system to apply the law equally, irrespective of race or socio-economic status;

Resolution No. 5: On Abuse

RESOLVED, that we acknowledge that spousal abuse dishonors the marriage covenant and fundamentally blasphemes the relationship between Christ and the church;

Resolution No. 6: On Posture of Christians Toward Refugees

RESOLVED, that we repudiate any and all assaults on the dignity and humanity of God’s image-bearers, regardless of refugee status;

Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia

Resolution No. 2: Prayer for the President and Other Elected Leaders

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the SBC of Virginia Annual Homecoming meeting in Hampton, Virginia, November 11-13, 2018, urge the churches of the SBC of Virginia to pray confidently, regularly, and fervently for our President, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, and all local, state, and national governmental leaders.

Resolution No. 5: Condemning Religious Violence Against Jewish People

RESOLVED, That we will encourage churches of the SBC of Virginia to guard against and reject anti-Semitism and to be zealous to share the hope of Christ for all peoples.

West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists

Resolution on Violence

RESOLVED, [in opposition to] the use of violence or force against any person or group on the basis of political persuasion, racial background, gender distinction, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is the author of The Life and Faith Field Guide for Parents, the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible, and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator. He also serves as an executive pastor at the McLean Bible Church Arlington location in Arlington, Virginia. 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