Marty Hogue

Father of a sexual abuse survivor & pastor of First Baptist Church of Ravenel

Marty Hogue

As pastor, on Sunday mornings I always got to church way ahead of most others. On this particular Sunday, Wesley had just returned from a camping trip. But when he saw me for the first time, he grabbed me tightly and would not let go. I couldn’t even walk. I thought he was just happy to see me, not knowing the trauma he was going through. 

That night, after the children were in bed, my wife, Carol, told me what Wesley had told her. I was flabbergasted. Shocked. Hurt. Angry. Bewildered. We decided I would talk with Wesley about it the next day. We chose the evening, since she was out of the house for the evening, and I would have Wesley all to myself. He and I were sitting on the bed. He was in my lap, his back to me. I asked him about what he told his mom about what Bob had done. I was careful to not try to lead him in any way. I just let him tell me what he wanted to. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. I knew he would not make up something like this. But even if he had, I would err believing my son. When he finished, I hugged him and told him we would put a stop to it, and we would do all we could to keep Bob from ever being able to do this again. 

I knew Bob and his wife were going on a cruise. I purposely stayed away from the church the next day so I would not have to see him. Then I contacted our deacon leaders and asked for a meeting. In that meeting I laid out the story for them. With Bob away, we had some time to properly plan and respond. The deacons spoke with an attorney and got good legal counsel. Carol and I wanted to do everything the right way. We had to take care of our family. I also had a church congregation that would be grieving through this process. 

When Bob returned home, two of our men met him at the door of the church and asked for his keys. He was terminated because we had no confidence in him. They had taken me out of the picture at that time, which was good. 

Carol had reported the incident to the local police where the abuse occurred. A detective met with us at the Children’s Advocacy Center, and he observed a trained counselor interview Wesley about the abuse. When it was over the detective said he would arrest Bob that day if he could find him. When the arrest was made Bob was surprised there was only one count, since there had been another boy on the trip as well. The other boy did not tell until long after our ordeal. This was on a Wednesday, so at Prayer Meeting I told the folks present that Bob had been arrested and was in jail, and I gave no other details. 

When Sunday came, I took time in the worship service to address the situation publicly. I wanted to assure folks that we were doing everything we could to make sure children were safe in our church. We hid nothing, except I did not say it was Wesley who had been involved. Many did not know who the child had been until months later. 

Going through the legal process was long, tedious, and trying. There was never a trial. The solicitor worked out a plea agreement in the end, which just put Bob on probation. But he also had to be on the sex offenders list. In our meetings with the solicitor we gave all the facts we could, as well as giving names of other children we knew Bob had been with and were possible victims. In the end, some of the others did come forward, and then Bob’s family knew we were telling the truth. 

During the year-and-a-half legal process, we made sure every attorney and judicial official knew that we were not going away. We have never been afraid to stand up and take on anyone we had to. Though we were frustrated with the way the process went, we never wavered. We were at every meeting, even when we had been told we did not need to be there. We were not going away. 

After the story about Bob got out, I was amazed at how many others had stories and cautious feelings regarding Bob. He was crafty. Many, and even myself, felt something was wrong in the beginning, but chose to give him the benefit of the doubt. Over time he deceived us all. I had many people tell me they had been abused as a child, and had never told anyone, or they were not believed. It was like we turned on a faucet. Since we were open about everything, other people felt empowered to share their stories with us. We were suddenly thrust into a whole new ministry opportunity we never imagined or looked for. But since God had us there, we were going to embrace anyone and everything we had to. 

That ministry has not stopped. Other pastors have sought me out for help when they were faced with similar situations. Survivors have come to us for counsel. I have learned more about child sexual abuse than I ever wanted to, but now we certainly see the reason. 

We are very fortunate. Very few survivors tell, and certainly not on purpose. Wesley came to us freely. We are so thankful for that. God has led us through this so far, and we are still following him today as we continue this ministry opportunity passionately. 

Have I forgiven Bob? Absolutely. I have prayed for his reconciliation. I have not seen or spoken with him since all of this. Maybe I will run into him someday. I want to tell him, “I forgive you.” Forgiveness is much more empowering than anger.

Marty Hogue is pastor of First Baptist Church of Ravenel, South Carolina.

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