How should a Christian react to the Black Lives Matter movement and those who support it?
Black Lives Matter (BLM) was founded in 2013 after the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American (black) man by George Zimmerman, a man of ‘mixed race.’ This was perceived as a racially motivated murder and this has since escalated after several black men were killed by police officers, George Floyd one of them. It resulted in the Defund the Police movement and among others, the teaching of Critical Race Theory in public schools and colleges throughout America.
Many, including Christians initially, supported the Black Lives Matter movement as it seemed a good way to get rid of racism. All faithful Christians agree that black lives do matter since all human life is precious as we are image bearers of the Triune God. For this reason, all racism, which means mistreating people simply because of their skin color, is wrong and Christians should oppose it. Many assumed that the Black Lives Matter movement was similar to what Rev. Martin Luther King, leader of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s taught, that “we should not judge people by the color of their skin but on the content of their character.” Since that time race relations have improved a lot, yet sadly racism still exists in subtle or not so subtle ways.
As the Black Lives Matter movement grew it became clear there was more to it than appeared on the surface. First, those who were killed weren’t always helpless victims but sometimes criminals resisting arrest. Another concern is that BLM opposes the All Lives Matter and Support the Blue movements, which promote safety for all and uphold law and order. BLM isn’t just about white people owning up to racism and slavery as a sad part of American history and that some forms of racism still exists and need to be opposed, but it teaches that simply being white is being a racist or a white supremacist. Recently, a 6-year-old was taught in a Virginia public school that she “is evil because she is born white.”
Ironically, this systemic racism is not based on words or actions but exclusively on skin color, the exact opposite of what Martin Luther King wanted. Further, all progress made in terms of race relations are being downplayed by the BLM movement and sadly the racial divide has gotten worse over the last few years as a result. It is important to note that BLM is part of a much larger development termed ‘wokeness’ or ‘being woke.’ This is not only for those discriminated against based on skin color but also on sex, gender, class, etc. It’s like being awakened (woke) to find ways for victims to be compensated for loss and harm done to them, and specifically for blacks, to be compensated for harm done to their ancestors.
So, besides being treated as victims they’re told to seek their identity not in being an individual but as a member of a group of ‘oppressed’ by ‘oppressors.’ The only way forward for them is not ‘reconciliation’ (love and peace) but ‘reparation’ (hate and pay-back)! Often reasonable debate is silenced, because those who are not members of a particular group are told they cannot understand what the oppressed are experiencing. All opposition to these theories are classified as racist, and silenced.
So how do we as Christians respond? First, we must realize that the concept of different ‘races’ is not a Biblical reality. There is one human race as Paul preaches to the Athenians, “[God] has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation” (Acts 17:26). Though there are many nations, ethnicities, languages, skin colors, cultures, etc., there is but one human race or humanity. All as image bearers of God are equally valuable and redeemable by the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, who shed His (red human) blood, so all ‘red-blooded’ sinners may, must and can be saved, God “commanding all man [humanity] everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17:23-31)
Our identity is not to be rooted in this or that group defined by man but by God, first in Adam, not as victims but as rebels! And then by way of Spirit-worked repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as believers having our shared identity in Him. Carefully read the first three chapters Paul’s letter to the Ephesians to find this confirmed time and again. And remember the question Paul asks us in 1 Cor. 4:7, “What makes you to differ from another?” if you are a believer and been given to see some of these truths. May it cause us all to humbly acknowledge that and be much in prayer for all those who are so misled and in need of that same grace!
Though it’s clear that we can’t support BLM for the above mentioned reasons, as well as for their other unbiblical and anti-family views, we don’t want to deny that many forms of racism and injustice still exist. Let’s prayerfully begin at home, at school and in our church with not looking down on anyone who is different than we are, whether it be skin color, mental or physical abilities and financial means, which we often take for granted. Rather, reach out to those who are less privileged than we are, befriend them and come alongside them, looking to Jesus who reached out to the downtrodden with compassion and love of one human being for another.