Christians & Black Lives Matter
This is not going to be a short read. It is going to wander a bit at first and not get straight to the point.
I’m going to tell you what I’ve worked out in my mind and the conclusions I’ve reached. If you disagree with the conclusions, then by all means tell me where I went wrong in my reasoning. But if you ignore the case I lay out and focus solely on the conclusions, expect to be thoroughly (and politely) ignored.
For example, I may say:
This is why I believe X is true.
This is why I also believe Y is true.
If X and Y are true, this is why I believe Z must also be true.
If you disagree with me, please explain why X or Y are not true OR why X and Y being true do not necessarily lead to Z. Just shouting, “Z is wrong and mean!” does nothing to convince me or anyone else of the wrongness of Z and your lack of a logical counter argument will only reinforce my belief in X, Y and Z.
So, here goes…. Belief #1–I believe that there are institutions in our lives that have been established by God.
Some of those institutions are obviously religious in nature. The church, for example is a religious institution that was established by God (Matthew 16:18, Acts 2). God has established the church and also established roles within the church for people to fill so that it can carry out its work in the way He intended. Shepherds are an example of this (Hebrews 13:17).
Some of the institutions God established may carry out spiritual work but are not solely spiritual in nature and function. Families are an example of this. God created man and woman and established the first family in Eden. It was His intention for man and woman to live together, to work together, to support each other, and their relationship is a living example to the world of the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:25-33).
But, unlike the church, marriage is an institution that both believers and unbelievers engage in. It exists and functions both in both the spiritual and secular parts of our world.
And again, God has established roles within the family for its members to fulfill so that the family can function and exist as God intended (Ephesians 5:33).
So I suppose you could sum up my first belief as this….
God created the world and everything in it. In order for that world to function as He intended he established institutions to carry out His work. Some of these institutions are entirely spiritual in nature (the church) and some are spiritual in their design and work but unbelievers often engage in them (the family). And within those institutions God has established roles for His children to fulfill so that those institutions can better carry out His work as He intended.
Belief #2– The institutions God has created very often don’t function as He intended.
We’ve all seen and been frustrated by this. Churches may become stagnant and fail to carry out God’s work (Revelation 3:1-3). Shepherds may misuse the authority they’ve been given or use it to benefit themselves rather than the church (1 Peter 5:1-3). Families are routinely torn apart by pride, bitterness, or fleshly lusts.
So if God set up these institutions why do they fail so often? Well, because they’re full of people and people are generally pretty good at failing to carry out God’s plans. In fact, sometimes it’s not the institution but the specific way that God organized the institutions that creates such a stumbling block and increases the likelihood that we’ll screw everything up (the authority of the shepherds or the relationship of husbands and wives).
I’d summarize my seconds belief as this….
The institutions that God created often don’t work as he intended. But this isn’t because of any fault in the plan or institution itself. Ask yourself, “If this isn’t working, is it because God’s plan was at fault, or we’re doing something wrong?” When the institutions fail the solution should be to fix the people, not change or try to improve on God’s plan.
A reasonable objection to this would be, “But what about when the people in those institutions fail us? The plan isn’t at fault, but the situation must change.” And that certainly happens sometimes. Sometimes marriages wrecked by unfaithfulness can’t be salvaged. Sometimes shepherds must be removed from their position of authority.
But in those situations the solution would never be, “Some marriages are abusive. We should abolish the institution of marriage.” And similarly we would never consider dismantling all churches or saying that all shepherds everywhere should be removed from office because of the failure of some individuals.
The Bible is very clear on this. God’s plans are good and are meant for the benefit of His children. And when there are problems with God’s plans the solution lies with fixing the individual people, not ignoring or abandoning God’s plan.
Now let’s talk for a minute about Black Lives Matter.
To clarify, there are three aspects of Black Lives Matter and we need to make a distinction about which one I’m talking about.
Black Lives Matter is a phrase that people use to voice support for black Americans. I’m going to briefly address that at the end of all of this. Black Lives Matter is also a movement. People sometimes march or protest in the name of Black Lives Matter without being officially affiliated with the Black Lives Matter organization. I’m not going to talk about the movement, because it’s so hard to tell which people at any particular event are affiliated with the actual organization and which people are just mixed into the crowd for their own reasons. To be as fair as possible to Black Lives Matter I’m only going to talk about the third aspect, the Black Lives Matter national organization. And I won’t speak for them, I’ll take quotes directly from their website and provide links so that my representation of their position can be fact checked.
What does Black Lives Matter (BLM) stand for? Well, it would seem obvious—They exist to protect and promote the value of black lives in society.
Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.(Paragraph 1– https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/)
Let’s be clear. That is a good thing to stand for and is a goal worth supporting. Period. Full stop. And when you talk to many people that is the statement that they endorse when they show support for BLM.
Another goal of BLM is to defund the police.
We call for a national defunding of police.(Paragraph 8– https://blacklivesmatter.com/defundthepolice/)
The goal is no longer police reform or police accountability. The plainly stated goal is the abolishment of police departments across the country. No more police. Anywhere.
You can see the first fruits of this work in Minneapolis, where the city council is planning on “dismantling” the police department and replacing it with social workers and other similarly trained, presumably unarmed, civilian staff. Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/minneapolis-city-council-members-aim-to-dismantle-police-department-rethink-public-safety
That is the goal. In fact, it’s not just the goal, it’s a demand.
Now I’ll quote from Romans 13:1-4 (ESV)
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
There’s a lot to unpack there and I’m going to take a big picture view of this passage.
1-Civil governments are a product of God’s divine plan for man.
2-The person who resists the civil governments “resists what God has appointed”.
3-The government has the God given authority to “bear the sword”.
4-An agent of the government who “bears the sword” is doing so as the “servant of God”.
Let me make another thing clear. There are terrible cops in this country. Terrible cops who make terrible decisions and I celebrate that Derek Chauvin was fired for his role in the death of George Floyd. And Derek Chauvin is not the end of the terrible-cop story in America. There are more, I’m sure of it.
But I do not believe that those terrible cops justify the abolishment of police departments across the country.
I have come to that belief by applying the same standard to the institution of police work that I applied to churches and families earlier.
1-God established churches and their organization.
2-God established families and their organization.
3-God established civil government and organized them such that they would “bear the sword” as his servants.
Those plans have been established and the fact of that is undeniable.
So what do we do when people, as people are apt to do, screw things up? Do we abolish all families because some husbands are abusive? Do we disband all churches because some shepherds fall away? Do we eliminate all police departments because some cops are terrible? If your answer to the first two is no, and it should be, then your answer to the third question should be “no” as well.
These are institutions established by God. We can remove people from them, we can reform injustices and abuse when we find them. But it is not up to us to invalidate God’s sovereign plan….because we screwed up the plan.
And that’s the position held by a Christian who supports Black Lives Matter. God had a plan. We failed at carrying out God’s plan. So we should definitely come up with our own plan instead. It’s preposterous to think that although we’re incapable of carrying out a perfect plan, we can somehow create a better plan on our own (and then not mess it up).
And that’s a preview of where I’m going next…. Should a Christian support the national organization (remember, that’s specifically what we’re addressing-the national organization) of Black Lives Matter?
I believe the answer is no.
The national organization of Black Lives Matter supports goals that are good and noble. They also support goals that are clearly at odds with God’s plan for his children. And not just at odds with God’s plan, but they are actively working, on a national scale, to deconstruct God’s plans.
BLM stands for a society without consequences. And that should be at odds with any Christian’s world view.
My faith-based objections to BLM extends beyond their #defundthepolice goals. Let’s be clear about something else. BLM stands firmly against and promotes the ruination of the traditional Christian family.
From their website— https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe/
We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.(Paragraph 16)
We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered.(Paragraph 17)
We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.(Paragraph 20)
We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).(Paragraph 21)
Read the entire document for yourself. Then ask yourself if BLM is supportive of the husband-led, heterosexual family that God has established.
Don’t stop there. Ask yourself if BLM is working to deconstruct the family that God established. They are.
Let me ask you this—If BLM were an organization that openly advocated for the dismantling of churches as God designed, would you support them? I’d hope not.
And I’d hope that a Christian wouldn’t lend support to a national organization that openly advocated for the dismantling of the civil government, no matter how abhorrent the actions of some of the government officials. Remember, when Paul was writing and encouraging Christians to support the “sword bearing” function of the civil government, he was writing to Christians in Rome, about the Roman government, that crucified Christ.
These are not incidental issues for BLM. The “defunding” portion of their website is featured in the header of their home page. The quotes included here were taken from their “About Us” and “What We Believe” pages.
The dismantling of God’s plan for civil government and the family are primary issues for Black Lives Matter.
So far we’ve only talked about the national organization of Black Lives Matter. I have recently been asked about my frustration with the use of the #blacklivesmatter hashtag and this seems as good a time as any to explain my position.
I believe that it is very possible to use the phrase “black lives matter” and to hashtag that phrase on social media without supporting the national organization of BLM.
But I don’t think it’s a good idea. I’ll explain why in two hypothetical scenarios dealing with slogans and organizations.
Americans are obsessed with choice. Burger King is so obsessed with choice that they dropped their slogan of 40 years, Have It Your Way, in favor of Be Your Way. My goodness gracious, even our fast food chains are encouraging us to choose not just our cheeseburgers but to choose how we’ll exist as people. Seems a little extreme for a burger place. But that’s how much we love choice.
And I’m onboard the choice train with everyone else.
But as much as I enjoy living a life with so many choices about so many things, I’d never decorate my car with a “Pro-Choice” bumper sticker.
I. Hate. Abortion. It’s a revolting practice that future generations will look back at and wonder how we could be so blissfully barbaric.
And because “Pro-Choice” has been adopted by the abortionists in our country, I feel that it wouldn’t be prudent to use a slogan associated with the murder of unborn children.
Or consider a hypothetical young married couple, Harry and Sally. Harry and Sally get married, buy a house, and after a few years decide it’s time to start a family.
Harry and Sally agonize over every decision for their new family. They buy a house in a could-de-sac so they won’t have much traffic in the street. The house is in the best school district. They’ve read all the books, taken all the classes, and have carefully curated their home to be the ideal environment for their little bundle-o’-joy.
Sally documents all of this in her mom-blog. All of the planning, every decision, it’s all there.
You tell me…. Would it be prudent for Sally to hashtag all of her blog posts with #plannedparenthood? After all, that’s what they’re engaged in. Planning their parenthood. It’s literally exactly what they’re doing.
Sure, that also happens to be the name of an organization that murdered over 300,000 unborn children in 2018 alone, but that’s not how Sally means to use her hashtag. And even if people misunderstand her intent, the national organization known as Planned Parenthood also does some very good things for the community too, right?
Wrong. No sane Christian would ever affiliate themselves with Planned Parenthood, even indirectly through a well-intentioned hashtag.
Look, I’m not saying that if you march at a BLM protest you’re in sin. And I’m not saying that any of this is related to your justification before God.
But I am saying this…. Imagine you have two boxes in front of you. They’re labeled “Good Ideas For Christians” and “Bad Ideas For Christians”.
Now ask yourself which box you’re going to put the following things into.
1) Supporting an organization that advocates dismantling the civil government that God has established.
2) Supporting an organization that advocates the destruction of the patriarchal family we see in the Bible.
3) Affiliating yourself with that organization, even unintentionally, through hashtags in your social media posts.
Show support for the black, brown, purple, or green communities. Support causes you believe in. But don’t support anti-family, anti-government causes along the way.