Why opposing the Equal Rights Amendment is pro-woman

March 17, 2023

This U.S. Congress is considering a joint resolution that would eliminate the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. 

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that was first introduced into Congress in 1923 and an amended version passed in 1972. Proponents of the amendment say that it would merely clarify that men and women have equal rights throughout the United States. 

But as critics have forcefully argued for the past century, the ERA would be used primarily to strip women of any distinctives and, in many areas of life, would put them at a disadvantage in relation to men. 

Attempting to erase gender distinctions

If promoting equality was the true goal, the ERA would be unnecessary. Numerous laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and the Title IX Amendment of 1972, protect women from discrimination on the basis of sex. The Supreme Court has also established protections for women in a variety of rulings over the past 50 years. 

But the push for the ERA is not about promoting women; it’s about erasing all gender distinctions. The ideological perspective behind the ERA is in direct opposition to the biblical view of gender, which emphasizes the idea that men and women have distinct, complementary roles in the family, church, and society. Scripture makes clear that men and women were created with different strengths and weaknesses, and these differences should be embraced rather than rejected. Genesis 1:27 states that, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” In this verse we see the beautiful reality that men and women are created equal in worth and dignity and yet were made distinct and non-interchangeable. 

Attempting to erase gender differences causes significant harm to all of society and especially—as the transgender movement has proven—to women and children. One of the reasons for the attempted revival of ​​the ERA is to provide a shortcut to the process of outlawing gender distinctions that has been used in recent years by the federal courts. A series of rulings have reinterpreted the meaning of “sex” and “equality of rights” in ways that have expanded abortion and LGBTQ+ rights. 

From the founding of the country until a few years ago, the term “sex” was once used in federal laws and regulations in reference to biological sex. However, in recent years, federal courts have interpreted this term more broadly to prevent any distinctions based on gender identity and sexual orientation. 

For example, in Bostock v. Clayton County (2020), the Supreme Court held that the prohibition on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The court reasoned that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity necessarily involves sex discrimination, because an individual’s sex is inherently tied to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The ERA would codify such reasoning into the U.S. Constitution. The version approved by Congress in 1972 and sent to the states reads: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” Approval of the amendment would supercharge the efforts to reinterpret sex in a way that privileges the preferences of gay and transgender men over the rights of biological women—and make it nearly impossible to challenge such laws that specifically protect women.

Other areas of concern 

Pro-life issues: The ERA would also threaten the hard-won gains that came from overturning Roe v. Wade. As the use of various state-level ERAs have shown, it would make it nearly impossible to implement state-level restrictions on abortion. We’ve also seen how such reasoning has been used at the federal level. In June Medical Services LLC v. Russo (2020), the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The court found that the law placed an undue burden on women seeking abortions, in violation of Roe. The court noted that laws that restrict access to abortion may have a disproportionate impact on women because of their biological sex. The overturning of Roe returned such issues to the states. But the ERA would put them back in the control of federal legislators.

Education and scholarships: Passage of the ERA would also harm girls and young women by eliminating women’s programs and scholarships in all areas of education. Title IX currently allows for programs and scholarships that are exclusively for women, but the ERA would strike that down since any program or scholarship that excludes men would be discriminatory. Removing such efforts to level the playing field would be a blow to women who worked hard to gain representation in such areas as science, technology, and sports. 

Additionally, adoption of the ERA would mean the end of single-sex colleges. It would also force the sex integration of entities such as fraternities, sororities, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA, YWCA, and Boys State and Girls State conducted by the American Legion. Public restrooms would also likely have to be unisex in order to avoid violating the constitutional provision. Shelters specifically for women experiencing homelessness and prisons designed specifically to house women would also likely be deemed unconstitutional.

Family structure and policy: The ERA would also have negative effects on the family structure and family policy. For example, the ERA would be used to challenge any laws that recognize the unique roles of mothers and fathers in parenting. It could also be used to challenge laws that provide benefits to mothers, such as maternity leave and flexible work hours, and prevent the protection of abused women. Currently, many states have laws that provide different levels of protection to men and women who are victims of domestic violence. The ERA would require states to eliminate these kinds of gender-based distinctions.

By attempting to erase the beautiful God-created distinctions between men and women, the ERA works to deny reality in a way that would cause further damage and harm to women and girls. Rather than helping women achieve parity with men, the amendment would enshrine within the U.S. Constitution that there should not be any legal distinctions ever made to protect women. Christians should oppose the ERA, not because we are opposed to equal rights, but because we are genuinely pro-woman. 

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