Social Issues Sunday is Aug. 4.
Congregants in many Baptist churches in Alabama will observe “Social Issues Sunday” on Aug. 4, taking time to reflect on the moral, ethical and societal problems of the day.
But when it seems that the world is tumbling headlong into chaos, how does one prioritize which issues to tackle first? The Alabama Baptist interviewed two Southern Baptist leaders to get their perspectives.
“Pro-life is probably the most important of all the issues facing our state and nation,” said Joe Godfrey, head of the Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP). Godfrey hailed the state’s passage of the most restrictive abortion bill in America but was less enthusiastic about other legislative efforts afoot in Montgomery.
“Legislators never consider the costs and consequences of their decisions concerning these moral issues,” Godfrey said. “They are promised huge revenue streams, but gambling, marijuana and alcohol never produce the revenue they promise.
“On top of that the added costs of medical care, law enforcement and court costs are never a part of their calculations.”
Godfrey criticized new laws allowing wine shipments directly to homes, establishing new “entertainment districts” where bar customers can walk public streets with open containers of alcohol and expanding Sunday alcohol sales in various communities.
ALCAP continues to monitor legislative efforts to establish a state-sponsored lottery and expand access to medical marijuana, he added.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention, said many social issues, including abortion, “are rooted in deeper questions about what it means to be a person and what does it mean to recognize a person’s worth in terms of something other than the perceived usefulness to other people.”
The sexual revolution has prompted new definitions of what family is, he said.
“Christians have an opportunity right now to bear witness to a sexual ethic that is rooted in something more substantial than mere consent,” Moore said. “Society may act as though sex is relatively meaningless but we know intuitively that’s not the case.
“Those life and dignity issues are related to some of the ongoing bioethical issues related to human gene editing and other questions as well as end of life concerns like suicide,” he continued. “I would argue the increased suicide rate is related both to a decreasing commitment to the sanctity of individual human life and also to a growing spiritual alienation in contemporary life.”
Questions of racism, racial reconciliation and racial justice should also be evaluated in terms of human dignity, Moore said.
“The church has been formed not just to proclaim God’s word about what righteousness is and what the coming judgment is about but also to embody and to display what a reconciled, common, united body of believers can be,” Moore said, quoting Ephesians 3.
Christians should dig deeper into seemingly unrelated issues to determine their impact on humanity, according to Moore.
AI used to persecute
“One of the issues facing the church in the world that many people are not thinking about right now is that of artificial intelligence (AI),” Moore said. “AI is a technology that can greatly benefit the mission of the church. Translation of Bibles, for instance, and other gospel literature can be much easier with artificial intelligence.”
But AI and facial recognition are being weaponized by China in order to persecute Christians and other religious minorities.
“Christians should care about all of these things,” Moore said.
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