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Becoming People Who Are Pro-Life and Pro-Justice

Reflecting our Savior by caring for all of the vulnerable in our midst

Benjamin Watson

Benjamin Watson lent his voice, along with many others, at our Evangelicals for Life Conference in Washington, D.C. We hope this adapted message will encourage you to expand your understanding of what it means to be pro-life and care for the vulnerable.

“Thus says the Lord, let not a wise man boast of his wisdom and let not the mighty man boast of his might. Let not a rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on Earth. For I delight in these things, declares the Lord” (Jer. 9:23-24).

Several years ago, I was playing for the New Orleans Saints. I became a free agent, and a phone call came from the Baltimore Ravens. We took our family of five kids at the time and moved to Baltimore. I remember getting to Baltimore, not knowing anybody or what to expect. This was a new place, a new area, a new coaching staff, and new teammates. 

I also remember reading Jeremiah 9:23-24. My wife and I have always been people who tried to leave a place better than when we got there. We say, “Lord, you placed us in certain places on purpose. Nothing happens by accident. We spent time in Boston. We know we’re here on purpose. How can we leave this place better? What’s your reason for us being here?”

It’s a question we all must ask ourselves. Why are we here? What’s the reason God put you in the various cities that you’re from? What’s the reason God put you on the West Coast when you’re an East Coast kind of girl? What’s the reason God put you down South when you know you’re a guy from Canada, and you didn’t even want to come to the United States? What’s the reason God has you in Washington, D.C., of all places? What’s the reason God had us in Baltimore? 

Jeremiah says God delights in three things: Lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness. So I prayed, “Lord, wherever we are, we want to delight in what you delight in, we want to be people who bring justice, who bring kindness, who live rightly. We want people to know about you because of the things that we do and the way that we live our lives.”

Pro-life is about more than politics

As I looked at this pro-life arena, I started to realize that if we’re not careful, we will go into a tribal mentality; pro-life will become more of a political stance than truly being about standing beside and for life from the womb all the way until we leave this earth. I want to stand for life in that way. This is more than politics. 

If this becomes about politics, then we lose the power of the gospel, and it becomes more about us winning than about women, men, and families being cared for and being an earthly picture of the way that Christ loves his Church. If it becomes about politics, then why do we need God in it in the first place? It becomes all about pointing the finger, saying, “Hey, we beat you in this race. Our candidate won.” But God wants more for us than that. 

There’s a reason why we are pro-life. And it’s not just to win; it’s because our hope is that [the unborn baby’s] life, and those lives affected by that life, come to know a Savior who can give them spiritual life. That’s what we’re about. That’s what I want it to be about.

Pro-life and pro-justice 

Recently, justice issues have come up. There have been videos that we’ve seen of altercations between police and citizens where young black men have been killed by police officers. We’ve seen police officers killed. There have been riots and protests. And the idea of social justice has come up a lot. And as believers, it’s really important that we engage the culture from this standpoint. Being pro-life does not mean you’re not pro-justice. We can be both. 

This idea of justice emanates from God’s character. Jeremiah 9 talks about God being a God of justice. And as believers, we want to be like who God is. We want to identify and love the things that he loves. At the beginning of verse 23, he says not to let the wise man boast about his wisdom. One of the things we’re lacking, from my perspective, in this life and justice fight, is humility. Pride comes before a fall. It is the wedge that drives between people. Pride prevents you from admitting your own faults and guilt and from seeing where you’re wrong. And it prevents us as a community from giving the life of Christ to people who so desperately need it.

We can’t turn a blind eye when people are suffering and we have resources to help people. So while being pro-life is about the womb, supporting the unborn, and protecting the vulnerable, my challenge to you is to see vulnerability in many different forms. There’s more than one color of it. It comes in many shades. And as a community, we are able to address all those. Domestically, 1 in 3 women will experience physical harm from a partner, an intimate partner. There are churches that profess to be pro-life but won’t address this topic. And those who are abused are led to ask, “Why doesn’t my life matter?” As a community, we can change that.

My wife and I have had a chance to go overseas and support an organization called International Justice Mission. They support victims of sex trafficking and slavery. There are 40 million slaves in the world today. They’re right here in the United States as well. We were able to see a field office in the country of the Dominican Republic, where there are children in the sexual exploitation industry. These children range from little babies to teenagers, young girls, and even young men. They’re forced to do horrific things for money, simply because they have nothing else. This is a justice issue that we as a pro-life community must address.

Isaiah says, “Learn to do good. Seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s case”(Isa. 1:17). Over and over in Scripture, we see where God challenges the people of Israel to be people who protect widows, foreigners, the young, and the vulnerable because they had no power in those societies. And it’s the same way today. 

We can’t stop and only think about one issue. That is not being true to the gospel. The gospel, in its totality, challenges each one of us to, in humility, ask God to show us places where we can make a difference. Ask him. He’ll tell you. Open yourself up to different opportunities. And not just for the cause’s sake. We get involved in these causes of justice because we have an eternal perspective. 

An eternal perspective 

The work my wife and I do with justice and pro-life issues is not simply for us to be nice to people. The reason is because we understand that there’s an endgame. Like football, we go through the tough times, the two-a-days, wanting to quit because it’s too tough, the pain and the injuries, the ups and the downs, and the emotional times because there’s an endgame there. We want to have a chance to win the championship. We know that if we put in the work, we may have a chance to hold the trophy. Similarly, Christians have an eternal perspective.

My challenge to all of us is to have an eternal perspective when it comes to being pro-life and pro-justice. We’re not simply doing these things because we want to check a box behind a certain candidate, or because of our parents, or because of our youth group or a group in our church. We’re doing it because we want to win souls for Christ. We hope many will see this love of Christ and turn themselves to him and say, “What must I do to be saved?” That’s why we do it.

When we sit down with a young mother who is in crisis because her boyfriend has turned his back on her, her family is pressuring her, and she has nowhere else to turn, we stand in the gap for her, hold her hand, and say, “We want to walk you through this.” We do this for the baby, yes. We do this for her, yes. But we do this because we want to see her say, “What must I do to be saved?” 

And what we found every time we’ve done anything in our communities is that the way you get to people’s hearts, usually, is by first meeting their real needs—for clothing, shelter, warmth and understanding, a companion, and to know that they are loved and worth it. Many people feel that nobody cares. By meeting that need, you show people the love of God. In turn, our hope is that at one point we’ll not only see them now, but see them in eternity.

Justice and righteousness

Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” This idea of justice occurs 200 times in the Old Testament, and what it usually points to is treating people equitably, repairing broken relationships to people and to structures. So the idea of justice is individual. 

But justice is also about structures. It’s about correcting structural issues and injustices and standing for those things that are bigger than the individual. God is a God of justice. Because of the fall, he has to be a God of justice. Sin entered the world, and we have inequities. We have people that take advantage of other people. We have hatred and racism. We have things that need to be corrected individually as well as systemically.

Righteousness and justice occur together a lot. For example, in Jeremiah 9:24, kindness, justice, and righteousness occur together. And the reason for that is because righteousness is right living. So, you have the idea of justice, which is correcting structures and relationships that are wrong. And you have the idea of righteousness, which talks about our relationship with each other, as well as our relationship with God. 

Because of justice, we need to live rightly. We need to have righteousness to enact that justice. In a time of righteousness, we don’t need justice, right? Because we are doing things the way that they should be done. Therefore, you have to have both. We need to be people who stand for justice and righteousness. We need to look for ways that as a pro-life community we can expand our repertoire. Don’t allow the world to confine us to what they want us to be.

Conclusion 

My challenge to you—and myself—is to be people who humbly come before God and say, “God, what would you have me be a champion for?” For some of us, it’s the unborn. For others, it’s sex trafficking victims. For others, it’s racial injustice. And for some of us, it’s all of the above in various ways. Ask God where he would have you pour into. Pray, “Lord, you’re a God of lovingkindness, of justice, and of righteousness. I want to be about those things. Please help me as I discover where I can best use my talent, my time, and my treasure to honor you in all of these areas.”

View this and other event messages at https://erlc.com/resource-library/event-messages.

Benjamin Watson is a former NFL tight end, as well as a writer, a speaker, and an activist. He is a college football studio analyst with the SEC Network, and he serves as VP of strategic relationships with the Human Coalition, one of the largest pro-life and pro-woman organizations in the country. Along with his wife, Kirsten, he is the founder of The Watson 7 Foundation, a nonprofit focused on strengthening families. They live in Georgia with their seven children.

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