Fatherhood & Responsibility

The essential role of men in standing for a culture of life

Josh Wester

Someone once told me, “There’s a worldview driving everything.” The comment was made in the context of a conversation about films and television shows. In the years since I first heard that statement, I’ve found myself taking a much closer look at the viewpoints and belief systems revealed in the various kinds of media that I consume. It turns out that when it comes to media, regardless of the forum, you’ll find someone’s worldview everywhere you look. That helps explain why I’ve found myself deeply contemplating the connection between fatherhood, abortion, and a culture of life versus the culture of death. 

A Vision for a Pro-Family World

Recently, the NBC medical drama New Amsterdam decided to explore the reversal of Roe v. Wade by depicting the reactions of various characters to the breaking news. I don’t watch the show, so I wasn’t invested in its take on the subject. But I decided to take a look after seeing a clip from that episode making the rounds on the internet. 

It’s essentially a series of emotional reactions that culminates in a shot of the medical staff gathered in front of a hospital television featuring the news coverage of Roe’s reversal. Clearly, each character is overcome with grief and emotion. Most striking, though, were the reactions of two different fathers to the sudden end of Roe’s nearly 50-year legacy in that sequence.

In the first case, a father who has just seen the news is staring at his young daughter. As she plays with her toys, he just stares and weeps. Though it’s unsaid, he is clearly grieved about his daughter growing up in a world without abortion. Similarly, a second man is seen sitting in front of his laptop in such disbelief that he cannot bear to make eye contact when what appears to be his pre-teen daughter enters the room.

I’m still struck by those images. Obviously, they’re fictional portrayals, but I assume they represent both the reactions and fears of many fathers in America. And that is something worth exploring.

Fatherhood and Human Dignity

First, I want to celebrate that these men have taken up the responsibility of fatherhood. We live in a culture that has told people they can have sex without the consequences of attachment and pregnancy. However, that can only be true for men, because a woman who becomes pregnant is physiologically connected to her child. 

It is because we have freed men of their obligation as fathers that abortion becomes so attractive for many, but pregnancy and childbirth were never meant to be an individual event. Christians ought to push against the idea that a preborn child’s life is the sole responsibility of the mother and call for a culture where fathers take responsibility for the children they create. 

Nevertheless, my initial reaction to that New Amsterdam scene was to ridicule it. 

There is no doubt a crushing sense of irony—to say nothing of cognitive dissonance—in seeing these men grieve that their daughters, whom they both love deeply, now unexpectedly find themselves in a position where each girl would be “forced” to become a mother to a son or daughter of her own. In fact, the emotional response each father has on behalf of his own daughter conflicts with the episode’s intended message. Moreover, their reactions actually serve to underscore the concept of human dignity. 

These men love these girls. They see them as valuable and worthy of protection. But these facts actually serve to highlight the absurdity on display in that scene. Each man obviously recognizes the inherent value and dignity of human life, of which their daughters are but a microcosm. Yet, illogically, they both conclude it is somehow consistent with that view of the dignity of personhood to insist their daughters should retain the right to destroy the life of another human being. The men weep over their daughters’ “loss” as though abortion bears no connection to the value of another person, when, in reality, such fathers should stand against abortion precisely because they recognize the value and dignity not only of their own children but of all children. 

Akin to Injustice? 

As I was discussing this scene among friends, a wise Christian woman made an interesting observation. She remarked that many fathers of young daughters probably did respond with some mixture of anger and fear in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe. Given the alarming statistics showing that 1 in 4 women in the United States “have experienced completed or attempted rape,” she pointed out the likelihood that many fathers are motivated by concerned about their daughters’ ability to terminate a pregnancy that was not only unplanned, but the result of a heinous crime. We would do well to compassionately consider how a culture of sexual assault impacts women and those who love them.

As a pro-life evangelical and the father of two young daughters, I care greatly about these issues. I recognize my girls’ dignity and value. I see them as women created in God’s image, possessing intrinsic and inestimable beauty and worth (Gen. 1:27), and I want them to be safe. Yet, in the same way that I am able to recognize their value and dignity, I am also able to recognize the value and dignity of all people, even in the worst of circumstances.

Many Americans today, indeed many fathers, remain convinced that the reversal of Roe was an injustice. They’re wrong. It was never the case that protecting the dignity and freedom of certain people required or justified denying the dignity, freedom, and life of others. Even so, it turns out that not all of their concerns were illegitimate. 

To be clear, there is no excuse for the intentional destruction of innocent human life. Elective abortions are never an acceptable remedy, even in light of the most troubling facts. Yet the pro-life position is not calloused toward suffering. We recognize that pregnancy represents a significant hardship for many women. Moreover, we sincerely grieve with women who have suffered violence that resulted in pregnancy. Their suffering is tragic, unjust, and inexcusable.

But what does it say about our culture that so many believe prohibiting elective abortions is akin to injustice? And what lies behind the reaction of grief and fear so prominently featured in NBC’s dramatic portrayal? The answer is that many Americans have fallen prey to the ethos of the culture of death. The fearful and angry reaction of so many men and women, both real and imagined, was fueled by a lie that said abortion was the only solution to an unplanned pregnancy. 

Pro-Life Fatherhood 

So as a concluding thought experiment, let us reverse the scenario. How should fathers who recognize the inherent dignity of all people react to the same news? For starters, instead of weeping or silently looking away in disbelief, such fathers would hug their daughters. Instead of battling emotional turmoil, the men would resolve to renew their commitment to the young women they love. And they would pledge that as these girls’ fathers they would always be there to support them, regardless of the circumstances. Finally, instead of lamenting the demise of the culture of death, these men would have the courage to stand for life and call other men to do the same.

Rooted in the culture of death, the scene from New Amsterdam portrayed a worldview where abortion was a sacrament. But a worldview rooted in a culture of life reflects a reality where all life is sacred. Fathers are called to love, care for, and protect their daughters. But it turns out, there is a worldview driving that too. 

Joshua B. Wester is the lead pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greensboro, North 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