Contending for the Next Generation

Meeting challenges for families with a faithful witness

Christiana Kiefer

“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus famously told his disciples—a description that points to his identity and how we can best share him with others. Christ has given his Church the privilege and responsibility of proclaiming the good news of the gospel while caring for our neighbors, speaking up for the vulnerable, and advocating for human flourishing in every arena of life.

But that not only means actively living out our faith, but preserving our freedom to do so, even in the face of growing opposition.

My work with Alliance Defending Freedom—a global Christian legal ministry committed to advancing each person’s God-given right to live and speak the truth—gives me a front-row seat to the challenges people of faith across the country face.

It also gives me a profound appreciation for groups like the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) who are working alongside us to protect the dignity and freedoms of all Americans. Together, we look forward, preparing for new challenges and thoughtfully evaluating where best to engage so that we can promote human flourishing and seek the welfare of our communities, marriages, and families.

Challenges to Flourishing Families

We are well aware of the challenges in the pro-life space, which affects the health of families. The overturning1“What You Need to Know About the Biggest Abortion Case Since Roe v. Wade,” Alliance Defending Freedom, February 8, 2023, https://adflegal.org/article/what-you-need-know-about-one-biggest-abortion-cases-roe-v-wade. of Roe v. Wade was extraordinary, but there is still much work to be done. Pro-life pregnancy centers (PRCs) and churches have been attacked,2Jonah McKeown, “TRACKER: Pro-abortion attacks in the U.S. continue (updated),” March 20, 2022, https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/251553/map-vandalism-attacks-continue-at-pro-life-centers-across-us. some churches are being compelled3“Skyline Wesleyan Church Sued California for Forcing It to Pay for Abortions,” Alliance Defending Freedom, October 26, 2022, https://adflegal.org/article/church-sued-california-forcing-it-pay-abortions-its-healthcare-plan. to cover abortions in their health insurance plans, and PRCs are even being forced to promote abortion.4 “Victory! Connecticut Pro-Life Pregnancy Center Won’t Be Forced to Speak Against Its Mission,” Alliance Defending Freedom, July 11, 2022, https://adflegal.org/article/victory-pro-life-pregnancy-center-wont-be-forced-speak-against-its-mission. In addition, the federal government is making chemical abortions5Grant Atkinson, “The FDA Won’t Stop Pushing Abortion Drugs,” Alliance Defending Freedom, February 8, 2023, https://adflegal.org/article/fda-wont-stop-pushing-abortion-drugs. increasingly available—even while removing crucial safeguards.

But the denigration of life doesn’t stop with mothers and babies.

Licensed professionals are under government pressure on other fronts. In Washington and other states, Christian counselors who want to help minors achieve their goal of living at peace with their sex are forbidden by law from even having these conversations about gender identity.6 Roger Brooks, “Tingley V. Ferguson,” Alliance Defending Freedom, March 27, 2023, https://adflegal.org/case/tingley-v-ferguson A counselor’s failure to comply can mean costly fines and even the loss of their counseling license, despite growing scientific evidence that physical and social “transition” can lead to physical and emotional devastation.

Similar intrusions on both religious freedom and the health and well-being of children are having an impact on more and more families throughout the country. The Biden administration, for instance, is using agency regulations to circumvent U.S. Supreme Court decisions protecting families and children.7Matt Bowman, “How the Biden Administration Is Using Regulations to Erode Religious Freedom,” Alliance Defending Freedom, March 13, 2023, https://adflegal.org/article/how-biden-administration-using-regulations-erode-religious-freedom.

In several states, government officials have also tried to shut down Christian adoption and foster-care providers who want to place children with a married mother and father.8“What You Need to Know About the Supreme Court’s Foster Care Case,” Alliance Defending Freedom, July 11, 2022. https://adflegal.org/article/what-you-need-know-about-foster-care-case-supreme-court. And other states have denied Christian parents the opportunity to provide vulnerable children with a loving home, simply because agency officials object to the parents’ religious beliefs.

Other youth are being denied not only fair competition but physical safety as young women and girls are facing males in their sports—costing these female athletes competitions, titles, and potential scholarships. Schools like Mid-Vermont Christian School9Ryan Gaydos, “Vermont Christian school barred from future tournaments after forfeiting game against team with trans student,” Fox News, March 14, 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/sports/vermont-christian-school-barred-future-tournaments-forfeiting-game-against-team-trans-student. that refuse to embrace gender ideology or the risks to their female athletes10Maureen Collins, “Why Male Athletes Who Identify as Transgender Should Not Compete in Women’s Sports,” Alliance Defending Freedom, March 10, 2023, https://adflegal.org/article/why-male-athletes-who-identify-transgender-should-not-compete-womens-sports. are being entirely excluded11Jesse O’Neill, “Girls basketball team banned from competing after forfeiting to team with trans player,” New York Post, March 14, 2023, https://nypost.com/2023/03/14/mid-vermont-christian-school-banned-after-forfeiting-to-team-with-trans-player/. from state athletic competition.

Increasingly, our government is moving to compel women to share private facilities like restrooms, locker rooms, and dorm bedrooms with males.12Matt Bowman, “How the Biden Administration Is Using Regulations to Erode Religious Freedom.” Other federal agencies have gone so far as to require employers to pay for—and religious healthcare providers to perform—life-altering surgeries for patients tragically convinced they can change their sex.13“Federal Agencies Redefining Sex for Employers,” Alliance Defending Freedom, February 8, 2023, https://adflegal.org/article/federal-agencies-redefining-sex-employers.”

Meanwhile, a new law threatens to strip custody from caring parents if, without their approval, their child travels or is taken to California for experimental “gender transition” drugs and irreversible surgeries that can have lifelong consequences.14 Matt Sharp, “California Thinks It Can Raise Your Kids Better Than You Can,” Alliance Defending Freedom, September 8, 2022, https://adflegal.org/article/california-thinks-it-can-raise-your-kids-better-you-can.

Government intrusions are endangering children’s minds, as well as their bodies. In many parts of the country, federal, state, and local authorities are actively working to curb parental rights and a biblical view of gender and sexuality.

Last year, a determined effort by some Virginia public school administrators regarding gender ideology drew national attention.15Tyson Langhofer, “Cross v. Loudoun County School Board,” Alliance Defending Freedom, March 16, 2023, https://adflegal.org/case/cross-v-loudoun-county-school-board. Their policies compelled teachers to affirm and support ideas contrary to their deeply held moral, philosophical, and religious beliefs. That prompted a group of religiously diverse parents to challenge the discriminatory policies and radical indoctrination in court.

These are just some of the challenges now facing a growing number of Christian families—and those of other faiths—across our nation.

How Christians Can Respond

What can churches and organizations like the ERLC do?

Awareness: We can be aware—and make others aware—of what’s happening in the culture, the courts, and the political landscape. We can be more responsible citizens, doing the sometimes tedious homework of learning what candidates believe, what important legislation really means, what ideologies are gathering momentum, and then voting accordingly.

Support: We can make phone calls, send emails, write letters to the editor. We can actively and generously support the work of organizations like the ERLC, enabling them to more effectively advocate before government officials for the best interests of families.

Invest: We can invest more thoughtfully, patiently, and lovingly in the lives of our children—and our communities—

carefully deepening their understanding of what the Bible teaches, including how to effectively engage our cherished freedoms for the benefit of ourselves and others. 

Pray: Most of all, we can pray.

May God, in the words of a great old hymn,16 “God of Grace and Glory,” HymnTime, http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/g/o/d/g/godgragl.htm. “grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the living of these days,” as we continue to live as Southern Baptists blessed with a long history of commitment to religious freedom, as citizens offering those around us a testimony to the transcendent truth of Christ, and as parents and individuals seeking to sow the truth of God’s Word deep in the souls of the next generation.

Christiana Kiefer is senior counsel with the Center for Conscience Initiatives at Alliance Defending Freedom.

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