The debate between those who say Black Lives Matter and those who respond All Lives Matter has moved in a direction that should make every Christian feel not only uncomfortable but frankly ashamed.
I cannot tell you how many of my white Christian Brothers and Sisters have posted things on various social media sites that are less than charitable in this issue. It grieves me and I believe it grieves the heart of God.
Before I say more, let me add this disclaimer: I am white. To be more specific I am a white pastor who has pastored an interracial church. I have many friends both white and black that I would stand up for and defend. Yes, I understand the white culture. No, I don’t totally understand the black culture. No one who is not black can.
Now with some reservations I want to go where angels fear to tread. I’ll probably get shot by both sides.
I think that both sides in this rancorous debate need to agree on several basic issues:
1. Innocent black men and boys have been killed by police officers. No one can deny it. It doesn’t matter that they didn’t raise their hands or obey an order (they should have). They were innocent and did not deserve to die.
2. We need to support our police. They are there to keep us safe and not all of them are bad. In fact most of them are good and a few are bad, as in every profession or group of people.
3. Some police are racists. Again, not the majority, but some.
4. You can’t cry racism when it’s a black officer who shot a black man. That’s just not racism.
5. Everyone needs to respond to the police in the proper way, even when they think that they are in the right and the police are wrong. This may not solve all of the problems but it will help in many situations.
6. There are racists white people and there are racists black people (and every other color). And some of them are Christians.
7. It’s not right to take sides, scream, protest, or burn and loot things until you have all of the facts. That takes time. (No I’m not suggesting that burning and looting is ever right, although our forefathers at the Boston Tea Party may take issue with me).
8. It’s not right to condemn those who take sides, scream, protest, (I draw the line at burning and looting) until you know all of the facts. That takes time.
I’m sure that there are other things that could be said but this is enough.
First let me talk to our black Christian Brothers and Sisters.
The first thing I want to say, and please hear me, is I love you. Please do not doubt my sincerity or my love. I am not trying to be an apologist for the whites.
I’m attempting to be an apologist for Jesus.
When you say Black Lives Matter, what most white people hear is, “Black lives matter more than white lives.” “Black people deserve special privileges.” “Black people don’t have to follow the law like white people.”
I’m sure that is not what you mean, but that is what we hear. Sadly.
You have to admit that the Black Lives Matter movement started out rather violently and without clear directions. White people look at them as thugs and looters. It’s going to be difficult to change perceptions. It’s important that you try.
It’s important because white people have some justification for their views. Black crime; violent inner-city neighborhoods; black men who father babies but don’t stick around to raise babies, to name a few.
I know that you can point to a history of slavery, generations of oppression, lack of job opportunities and, yes, racism. All of these are true but they should not define who you are.
Many races have come to America and faced these or similar obstacles and made a better life for themselves. Not even all black people have been held captive by their history or circumstances.
I want to affirm, and I believe it’s the right thing to do: Black Lives Matter.
Now let me talk to our white Christian Brothers and Sisters.
Again I want to say, I love you. Please do not feel that I am condemning you. I am not trying to be an apologist for blacks.
Remember it’s about Jesus.
When you say All Lives Matter, I think what most black people hear is “Black people don’t matter.” “You don’t value our lives the way you value white lives.” “We are expendable.” At the very least they hear “You are trying to dilute our message.”
It’s true that All Lives Matter, especially to God who is not limited by color, race or nationality (Galatians 3:28). But when you say it you are missing a huge point.
The slogan Black Lives Matter is a way to draw attention to one critical issue that most black people feel passionately about; the death of young black men. Some of them died innocently. Some were shot justifiably, but many, and this issue goes back many generations, were not.
We single out issues all of the time in our society and draw specific attention to them by wearing a certain color ribbon, sponsoring a golf tournament, or running a race. That is what the black community is trying to do.
That does not demean any other issue. It simply draws attention to one issue.
So here are my suggestions for how we should act as Christians facing this issue.
1) Let’s stop imitating the world and throwing our slogans in each other’s faces. Let’s try to understand the other side. It’s important, and I cannot emphasis this enough, that we as Christians act like Christians.
2) Let’s begin talking. I know that the black community has all but given up on dialog – they’ve been trying it for too many years. But the alternative has not worked.
3) Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt (1 Corinthians 13:7, love believes all things good about the other person).
4) Let’s begin loving each other, not when the other side does the “right” thing, but even if they don’t.
Yes, it is true that All Lives Matter. It is also true that Black Lives Matter.
Let the bullets fly (at me).
Stay in the Word