Courtesy of The Cripplegate
It’s a phrase that has been heard often in these recent days of sorrow and unrest. Black lives matter. No decent person can disagree. Certainly not Christians. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, David Dorn, Breann Leath, David Patrick Underwood. We could add more. Their lives mattered. Like every person ever born, they have all been created in the image of God. We all have God’s stamp on us. When life is lost, we are to weep with those who weep.
Black Lives Matter is an organization that began in 2013, and has been growing ever since. However, there is a difference between the fact that black lives matter and the organization, Black Lives Matter (BLM). BLM is an organization with a belief system; an ideology; some might argue it parallels a religion. It describes itself as an “ideological and political intervention” and is largely rooted in black feminist theology, black liberation theology, and critical race theory. With a 3000-word doctrinal statement, the organization is more than an idea. Among other things, BLM has a desire for racial equality and the end of police brutality. Those are good things which all of us should desire. Micah 6:8 expresses it well: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
As it concerns Christians, we must ask the question: how does the BLM doctrine line up with the Christian’s source of faith and practice; the Bible? The purpose of this article is to answer that question.
First, what this article is not saying. This article is not asserting that everyone who ascribes to the BLM movement ascribes to its doctrinal statement. Some may not be aware of BLM’s finer points of doctrine. Nor does this article claim that those who hold to the fact that black lives matter simultaneously hold to the BLM doctrine. Rather, the purpose is to compare the stated beliefs of the BLM organization with God’s word.
BLM teaching will be compared with Scripture in seven categories.
BLM’s ideology is largely fueled by Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. Permeated with standpoint epistemology, CRT/I is a growing ideology akin to a religion. Most religions and ideologies present a “gospel,” or a way of salvation-rescue from a perceived problem. In short, CRT/I, whether explicitly or implicitly, teaches that salvation is needed from inherent racism and privilege innate to the original sin of whiteness. In other words, a swath of humanity is congenitally depraved due to whiteness. Salvation for this population, therefore, is mostly impossible. Like biblical Christianity, CRT/I holds to a standard of righteousness that is unattainable (e.g. “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Matt. 5:48). Unlike Christianity, CRT/I provides no grace by which righteousness may be imputed by faith (c.f. Rom. 3:21-26). One cannot be objectively declared righteous from whiteness.
Like biblical Christianity, CRT/I holds that those with original sin must experience a change of nature to escape their depraved condition (e.g. “we were by nature children of wrath,” Eph. 2:3). Unlike biblical Christianity, CRT/I provides no ability for a supernatural, new birth out of one’s inherent, natural predicament (cf. John 3:3, 2 Cor. 5:17). You cannot be objectively reborn out of whiteness or privilege.
Like biblical Christianity, CRT/I holds to an individual’s inherent uncleanness due to the stain of original sin (cf. Jer. 2:22, Isa. 64:6). Unlike biblical Christianity, however, CRT/I provides no impeccable substitute or method by which the stain of original sin can be permanently cleansed (cf. Heb. 9:22). You cannot be cleansed by the stain of whiteness.
Like biblical Christianity, CRT/I holds to an individual’s dominion under a sinful, guilty family and race (e.g. “In Adam all die,” 1 Cor. 15:22). Unlike biblical Christianity, CRT/I provides no ability to be transferred out of that guilty family and adopted into a righteous one (cf. Eph. 1:5, Gal. 4:6-7). You cannot be adopted out of whiteness.
Unlike biblical Christianity, therefore, BLM provides no objective, historical basis of hope for eternal life in a sinless, sorrowless, deathless world. BLM offers no grace of justification, no mercy of redemption, no power for regeneration, and no hope of eternal life. On the contrary, its system is one that places crushing guilt on individuals, while featuring, ironically, a built-in ideology of partiality and prejudice. There is no salvation in the BLM movement.
Parenting & Family
BLM is confessionally opposed to the nuclear family structure. On the family, they state the following:
We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work.
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.
This is part of the growing movement which rejects God’s good design of loving male headship in the home. Scripture teaches that God’s plan for the home is a man and woman united under the monogamous covenant of marriage. The first family God created was that very thing (Gen. 2:18-24, Mark 10:6-9). As head of the home, a husband is commanded by God to love his wife sacrificially; as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph. 5:25). God’s high calling for wives is to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord, as the church does to Christ (Eph. 5:22-24). To oppose God’s orderly, caring nuclear family structure is to oppose God’s best for children and the human race. To reject God’s design for the family is an attack on God. And rejecting God’s design for the family will not be without consequences.
Studies have demonstrated that homes without a father often put a child at risk for adverse outcomes. For example, children living in female headed families with no spouse present had a poverty rate of 47.6 percent, over 4 times the rate in married-couple families. As BLM states that it fights for “poor Black people,” it would do well to reverse its view of the family in that fight. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states, “Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse.” Another study demonstrated that fatherless homes had significantly fewer externalizing and internalizing behavioral problems than children living with at least one non-biological parent. Children of single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to commit suicide. Studies also have shown that the absence of a father renders youth more likely to commit crime and engage in early sexual activity. Not all children raised in fatherless homes will experience these adverse outcomes. God is gracious in such circumstances. However, to oppose his design for the family is an attack on God and rejection of his common grace for children and society.
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.
Cisgender refers to one’s gender which corresponds to God-given, anatomy. By working to “dismantle cisgender privilege,” BLM opposes God’s created design of biologically based gender. “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). Gender was invented, created, and assigned by God. To oppose the idea of biological gender is to oppose God.
BLM teaches further:
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).
“Heteronormative” sexuality in the context of marriage is God’s beautiful design and gift to the human race (Gen. 2:24, Heb. 13:4). Homosexuality opposes God’s design for human sexuality, and therefore is sin against him (Lev. 18:22, Rom. 1:27, 1 Cor. 6:9). To “foster a queer-affirming” lifestyle opposes God’s purpose and plan for sexuality.
Reconciliation & Forgiveness
BLM demands reparations in five ways. Here are a few:
We demand reparations for past and continuing harms. The government, responsible corporations and other institutions that have profited off of the harm they have inflicted on Black people — from colonialism to slavery through food and housing redlining, mass incarceration, and surveillance — must repair the harm done. This includes:
Reparations for the systemic denial of access to high quality educational opportunities in the form of full and free access for all Black people (including undocumented and currently and formerly incarcerated people) to lifetime education including: free access and open admissions to public community colleges and universities, technical education (technology, trade and agricultural), educational support programs, retroactive forgiveness of student loans, and support for lifetime learning programs.
Reparations for the wealth extracted from our communities through environmental racism, slavery, food apartheid, housing discrimination and racialized capitalism in the form of corporate and government reparations…
An exhaustive discussion of the issue of reparations is beyond the scope of this article. Many have recognized that the problems with reparations are innumerable.
First, how and to whom will reparations be distributed justly and in proportion to alleged injustices? Will those who lived through the days prior to the Civil Rights movement receive more than those who did not? Will someone with a black mother and white father receive less? What about those with a half-black father and white mother? What about recent immigrants from Burkina Faso or the Ivory Coast? What about those whose parents were from Vanuatu or Madagascar? What about immigrants who have violated United States law from Africa, but later receive legalization? What about black criminals? Will they receive reparations and how much? What about wealthy individuals like Lebron James and Lil Wayne? And what about individuals who did not contribute to alleged injustices? How will it be justly determined who owes what?
Second, Scripture requires reparations for specific biblical infractions committed by an individual against another (Lev. 6:5, Num. 5:8). In these cases, a stolen item, and the value thereof, is tangible and therefore can be objectively determined and recompensed. Doing so in reparations will be quite difficult, if not impossible, for alleged injustices.
Third, the New Testament did not require reparation for God’s people, or any people. History records that the first century Roman Empire, under which Christianity existed, systematically extracted excessive taxes from citizens (cf. Luke 3:12-13). Though God is a God of perfect justice, he does not require the Roman Empire to make reparations for doing so. Nor does he command Christians to protest or lobby for reparations. In fact, Christians under a system with far more injustices, partiality, and corruption than modern-day America were commanded to “submit to governing authorities” (Rom. 13:1), “pay taxes” (Rom. 13:6-7), live a quiet and prayerful life towards civil authorities (1 Tim. 2:1-2), avoid seeking vengeance while trusting God for justice (Rom. 12:17-21), and even honor the emperor (1 Pet. 2:17).
Government & Civil Authorities
Regarding government and civil authorities, BLM teaches:
We are Abolitionist: We believe that prisons, police and all other institutions that inflict violence on Black people must be abolished and replaced by institutions that value and affirm the flourishing of Black lives.
Defunding the police has become a signature motto of BLM. In a June 5th tweet, BLM wrote, “Black Lives Matter means defund the police. @emilymbadger say it with us.” In a response, they said, “#defundpolice is a demand full stop.”
Scripture does not justify eradication of law enforcement on the grounds of flawed law enforcement for at least three reasons.
First, the most loving and just individual in history, the Lord Jesus Christ, was the recipient of colossal injustice at the hands of law enforcement. He was the object of the most unjust and corrupt arrest, trial, and execution in world history. Prior to his crucifixion, Jesus was the object of extraordinary police brutality. False witnesses were used to convict him (Matt. 26:60). After his arrest, he was stripped naked, humiliated, mocked, spit on, punched, beaten, and scourged by an angry mob of law enforcement (Matt. 26:47, 27:27-31). Then, they paraded him carrying his own cross before a jeering mob, during which he collapsed in the street from his injuries (Matt. 27:32). Finally, they laid him on the cross, nailed him to it, and raised it for all to see (Matt. 27:35). There, law enforcement and other officials continued to mock him as he suffered the most horrific and humiliating of deaths (Matt. 27:41, Luke 26:36). Despite these never-to-be-matched injustices and police brutalities, Jesus commanded submission, paying of taxes, and prayer on behalf of the very government that murdered him (Mark 12:17, Rom. 13:1-6, 1 Tim. 2:1-2, 1 Pet. 2:17). Does this mean the Bible is ok with wrongs committed by civil authorities? Not at all (Luke 3:14). Jesus commands the highest level of love and justice towards one another (Matt. 22:37-39, Phil. 2:3-5).
How will needed police reform occur then? Through things like additional training, prayer, gospel preaching, regenerate hearts, peaceful activism and legislation, and building relationships with civil authorities, while recognizing that this is not heaven (Gen. 3:18-19). God will make right all wrongs. For all who trust in the Person, death, and resurrection of the biblical Jesus, they can count on it (Rev. 21:3-4). Until then, this world groans, and so do we.
Second, Jesus’ followers also suffered frequent unjust treatment at the hands of law enforcement (e.g. Acts 4:3, 4:21, 5:18, 5:41, 7:58-60, 8:1-3, 9:1-2, 12:1-5, 13:50, 14:19, 16:22-25, 16:37, 18:17, 19:29, 21:29-32, 22:25, 24:27, 26:31, 28:16; 2 Tim. 4:6; Heb. 13:23; 2 Pet. 1:14; Rev. 2:10, etc.). Police brutality was a common thing for them. Thousands more examples could be cited from the late first century into the fourth century, the Protestant Reformation, and up to the present day. Christians were used as human candles, thrown to wild beasts for sport in the Roman coliseums, tortured, burned, drowned, and subjected to other despicable atrocities. Even so, and knowing all of this, God recognizes the legitimacy of government and law enforcement (Rom. 13:1-6). Christians are commanded, not to overthrow it, but pray for it, submit to it, and be respectful (Rom. 13:1-6, 1 Tim. 2:1-2, Titus 3:1-2, 1 Pet. 2:17). Flawed law enforcement is never the grounds for no law enforcement. The reason we can embrace this is because we understand that God is sovereign and, by faith in Christ, we will one day live under the perfect, loving, just rule of Jesus Christ.
Third, albeit flawed, law enforcement is ordained by God for the protection of humanity. All humans are flawed (Jer. 17:9), thus flaws will surface in law enforcement. For that reason, they must work to continually improve practices and procedures. Even so, God decrees the existence of law enforcement for the greater good of society (Rom. 13:3-5). Without it would be disastrous.
Defunding the police is not a new idea. In modern times, it seems to have originated with the Black Panthers in the late 60s and early 70s. But the need for improved police training and community relations does not merit dismantling of police altogether. Doing so would backfire in catastrophic ways (cf. Eccles. 8:10). The book of Judges is a terrifying case study of what happens in a society without law enforcement (cf. Judg. 17:6, 21:25). The injustices occurring now will multiply by disastrous magnitudes should police be defunded.
Value of Human Life
We deserve and thus we demand reproductive justice that gives us autonomy over our bodies and our identities while ensuring that our children and families are supported, safe, and able to thrive.
Unborn babies are unquestionably living human beings. They are valuable creations of God, made in his image (Gen. 1:26-27). Abortion is the unjustified ending of a baby’s life. Therefore, abortion constitutes the sin of murder (Ex. 20:13).
According to the 2010 US Census, 79 percent of the Planned Parenthood surgical abortion facilities are placed within walking distance of communities largely comprised of minority groups.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, there have been over 15.5 million abortions performed on African Americans. These 15.5 million Black lives lost to abortion outnumber the deaths of Black people due to AIDS, violent crimes, accidents, cancer, and heart disease combined.
In 2019, 235 black people were killed by police (compared to 370 whites). Even if every one of those was unjust, the unjust killing of black people by abortion would be 425 times higher than deaths by police. So, to be consistent, where should BLM direct their advocacy for black lives?
BLM teaches, “We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter,” and, “In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a prerequisite for wanting the same for others.”
However, by supporting abortion, BLM cannot be said to have an unqualified position on the value of black lives. In no way can the organization “desire freedom or justice” for all black individuals. By failing to oppose abortion, they deny justice and freedom to the most defenseless, helpless, and innocent of the black community. A catastrophic inconsistency exists in the fact that BLM protests the tragic death of George Floyd, for example, but gives a pass to the deaths of some 100,000 black babies each year. The greatest atrocities; the greatest violence against blacks is not by the police, but abortion clinics. Despite the name, “Black Lives Matter,” the organization is hard-pressed to affirm in an unqualified manner that black lives matter. If they are going to defund an institution which is most harmful to blacks, it is abortion clinics which must be defunded.
As observed from BLM’s teachings, it appears that they seek unity around their own, self-developed doctrine. The aforementioned principles seem to be that around which the organization seeks unity.
The Lord Jesus offers a superior, more gracious unity, however. His death on the cross unequivocally tears down disunity between sinners and God and sinners with one another, regardless of melanin content:
Ephesians 2:11–16 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
During the first century, great ethnic-social hostility existed between the Gentiles and Israelites. But the gospel completely dismantled that. What a glorious, loving work of unity that the darker-skinned Person of Christ has performed for all ethnicities through his life, death, and resurrection. Jesus already has reconciled all who put faith in him. How then, could finite man outdo a reconciliation by human efforts what Christ, infinite God, has accomplished? Let us not seek to resurrect barriers which Christ has already destroyed.
God requires love for all people since all are made in the image of God and in need of the substitutionary atoning work of Jesus Christ (Gal. 5:14). Regardless of one’s differing views, Christians are commanded to love others, including those in movements which disagree with Scripture. However, to love every person does not mean affirming the practices of every person. In fact, it is unloving to affirm the sin of others (cf. Gal. 6:1-3). Scripture teaches that those who fail to embrace the Person and work of the biblical Christ remain at enmity with God and face eternal consequences (John 3:36, 2 Thess. 1:7-9, Rev. 20:11-15). Love means we say something.
BLM opposes God’s teaching on salvation, parenting and family, human sexuality, reconciliation and forgiveness, government and civil authorities, the value of human life, and unity. Therefore, though Christians must love those in the organization, they cannot embrace the Black Lives Matter Movement. This is an ideology (and perhaps a religious movement) which clashes at critical points with God’s word.
Though BLM’s concept of justice, equity, and reconciliation is flawed, God’s people resonate with their desire for those things. However, BLM will not achieve those things through its doctrine and practice. Instead, we point the BLM movement towards the loving, sovereign, compassionate God of justice; the God of the Bible.
God will flawlessly deal with all injustices in history (Rom. 12:19). However, he will also see to the injustice in our own hearts and lives (Rom. 6:23). God’s moral standard is far higher than ours: he demands perfect holiness even down to the level of our motivations and thoughts (Matt. 5:21-48). On God’s criteria, therefore, it’s clear: we all have sinned and fallen short of his glory (Rom. 3:23). We all stand condemned before the Judge of all the earth (Rom. 3:10-20). But the happy news is that God sent his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to be punished in our place for our injustices, inward and outward (Isa. 53:4-6, 1 Pet. 2:24). Incredibly, God offers complete forgiveness towards us (Eph. 1:7). He does so justly, by transferring the penalty for our sins to the sinless Person of Christ, when he died on the cross (Rom. 3:21-26). For all who bow the knee in faith to Christ, God justly declares us, the unjust, just, on the basis of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection (Rom. 3:25-26, 2 Cor. 5:21, Eph. 2:8-9, 1 Pet. 3:18). All who do will be reconciled to God and spend eternity in the blissful, joyful heaven. In that place, all injustice, violence, and death will be forever eradicated (Rev. 21:3-4). The peace, justice, and life that BLM seeks doesn’t compare to that which God promises through Christ.