Should Christians support the Black Lives Matter movement?
I had thought it was a no-brainer. What could be more obvious for us as Christians to do but to support something that affirms the dignity and worth and value of humans? Surely churches would jump to make a statement of some kind in support of the cause. Apparently I was wrong. Many churches were reticent, and after reading more I learned why: because there is much more behind the BLM movement than I was aware of. Here are my thoughts.
This episode is based on Genesis 14, Micah 6, and Isaiah 58.
Find semi-accurate show transcripts, sources, notes from the episode, and all kinds of random extras at https://feelsandflowers.com/episode-015
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The piety of the Christian constitutes the standard by which unbelievers judge the gospel. –E.G. White
— [THEME MUSIC] —
Hello hello hello! Welcome to Feels and Flowers, a Christian podcast where I share with you a gospel based entirely on love: Love God, love yourself, love others and where every week we cover the history and healing properties of a plant or essential oil. I’m your host, Paula Perez.
I was thinking the other day. I should probably have said this before, but I will do so now, because I want to make this very clear: I am not a theologian and the opinions of this podcast do not reflect the opinions of any one church or denomination.
You see, I do not believe that you have to be a theologian or have an M. Div to share the gospel with others and that it is my job as an individual to share the gospel in the only I can: through the evidence of God in MY life, because I have come to know a God that is overwhelmingly generous, and who has vast patience and fathomless mercy.
So what would God have to say about the world and all the things we see going on all around us? I think the answer can be found in the Bible where he so plainly reveals himself and his character.
So we are going to continue our journey through Genesis. Last week we met Lot, Abram’s nephew who joined Abram in his travels. Because they had between them so much livestock that there was not enough grass to feed all the animals, they decided to part ways. Lot chose the best region for himself, which happened to be close to the wealthy and wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abram settled further north. This week, we learn about what happened to Lot once he settled in Sodom.
At this point, I usually feature a plant and talk about its history as a medicine or some other such trivia. However, because I had a lengthy intro and I want to keep this short and sweet, we’re going to delve right into Genesis 14.
There were four mighty kings in Canaan. One of them was the King of Elam who had conquered Sodom, Gomorrah, and other cities located in the Jordan Plain. After 12 years of living under the thumb of the king of Elam, these cities rose up in rebellion against him. So the King of Elam and his allies marched against the rebels, Four kings against Five and fought at the Valley of Siddim, which means the valley of the Salt Sea. The four kings defeated the rebel forces, and chased after them.
The Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits. As the rebels fled, they fell into the tar pits, but the rest escaped into the mountains. The four kings captured all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, all their food and equipment, and went on their way. They captured Lot, Abram’s nephew who was living in Sodom at the time, taking everything he owned with them.
We saw it coming. We knew that as Lot started setting up camp closer and closer to Sodom that he would eventually give up the nomad life for good and settle once and for all within the city walls. I mean that’s where all the people, all the action and all the money is, right? Unfortunately that also meant that he and his family was also swept up in the conflict between the squabbling kings. Since Lot chose to live among the wicked people of Sodom, we are not surprised he was also taken captive.
“He had it coming,” We like to say. “He was selfish, and worldly, and he wanted the best for himself, and he really got what was coming to Him.”
You know who didn’t think that? Abram.
One of Lot’s men escaped and reported everything to Abram. Abram was living near the oak grove belonging to Mamre the Amorite. Mamre and his relatives, Eshcol and Aner, were Abram’s allies.
When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken prisoner, he lined up his servants, all of them born in his household—there were 318 of them—and together with his allies chased after the captors all the way to Dan, a long distance to the north. (The city of Dan is not far from the northern border of Israel).
Abram and his men split into small groups and attacked by night. They chased them as far as Hobah, just north of Damascus. They recovered all the plunder along with nephew Lot and his possessions, including the women and the people.
About a week or two ago when the coverage of the BLM protests and the ensuing rioting and looting was at its peak, I noticed that there was a bit of reticence on the part of some church communities. While corporations across the United States were quick to send out official statements supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, churches seemed to be grappling with the issue and I wondered why.
I had thought it was a no-brainer. What could be more obvious for us as Christians to do but to support something that affirms the dignity and worth and value of humans? Surely all would make a statement of some kind in support of the cause. Apparently I was wrong.
Some simply said that Christians shouldn’t call out the government or unjust policies, but have you read the Bible? It’s about justice and bringing restoration. We still see Christ calling us to continue looking for justice.
The majority of Christians against BLM, however, warned that the Black Lives Matter movement was not aligned with Chritian values and that Christians should not jump to support it. They supported the idea that Black Lives Matter, yet they did not support the actual movement.
What the heck.
The argument against embracing the BLM movement was actually the set of beliefs behind the Black Lives Matter movement (as stated in the What We Believe page) go against conservative Biblical values.
So I looked it up myself. And here are some extracts:
We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.
We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead.
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.
We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered.
We practice empathy. We engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.
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.
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).
We cultivate an intergenerational and communal network free from ageism. We believe that all people, regardless of age, show up with the capacity to lead and learn.
We embody and practice justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.
I didn’t read the whole page here, I simply read some of the sticking points that many evangelical and more conservative Christians bring up when the BLM movement is mentioned. I suggest you look it up yourself.
The truth is: I don’t and never will fully align with all of the beliefs in the BLM movement. I just don’t. BUT I don’t have to believe in every single thing for me to support it. Why? Because it’s the organization that is rallying that battle cry, showing up the most, and organizing the most protests to bring about justice for the marginalized. Bottom line, it’s the one that’s getting the job done. Period.
Listen. You guys know what I am, an illegal immigrant brought up in a strongly conservative Christian background. It’s odd that I would have to reconcile a movement that seeks to affirm brown people like me with my Christian beliefs. It feels wrong in a way I can’t begin to explain.
One of the things that is the most galling is though, why does it take a movement like this, a movement that was started because of the horrific murders of Black brothers and sisters, for people to understand that black and brown and queer people are humans and, what’s more, their lives are valuable enough to be defended and validated.
I believe that any movement which affirms the humanity of people of color and marginalized groups and that affirms our contributions to society, needs to be supported. I will support it because it simply needs to be supported. If the churches and the society made up of God-fearing Americans had from the first done right by marginalized groups there would not have been a need for this movement in the first place.
In fact, I believe that fixing this kind of injustice in which the rich abuse the poor without repercussions and in which marginalized folks are continually stepped on and no one does anything about it, fixing this is the only way America can become as great as it aspires to once have been.
Isaiah 58:9-11 says that we are blessed when we seek justice for those who are suffering
“If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
Bottom line is:
- God made humans
- Humans are precious and have inherent value regardless of their color, orientation, beliefs, and even actions. We are valuable simply because we were made by God
- Christ died for humans because we are all sinners and he wants to save as many as want to be saved
- God expects us to carry on the work of restoration and reconciliation that Christ began when he was here on earth
- Granting marginalized groups the rights and freedoms and safety that they (or rather, we) are asking for will not detract from anyone else’s freedoms and opportunities.
And don’t you dare even start telling me that I am using rhetoric similar to the All Lives Matter crew.
All lives matter until someone dies in an ICE detention center and children are separated from their parents and put in cages and you say “well they should have come here legally”
All lives matter until you demand you need to get a haircut and that churches open, and you say “COVID only kills old people”
All lives matter until your neighbor dies of an overdose and you say “addiction is a choice”
All lives matter until a woman is raped and is punished for seeking abortion and you say “what was she wearing? How much did she drink? She was asking for it.”
Michelle Higgins, director of the advocacy group Faith for Justice, based in St. Louis said, “We are too busy withholding mercy from the living,” she said, “so that we might display a big spectacle of how much we want mercy to be shown to the unborn.”
All lives matter until you find out they’re LGBTQ+ and you say “that’s against my religion”
All lives matter is convenient when it’s not you who or your child.
All lives matter is convenient if you want to avoid the hard work of bringing repair into this world.
I don’t care if you are right and “they” are wrong. I don’t care if you believe that the protest is rooted in “liberal fiction.” I saw a man die. I heard as he begged for his life and cried out for his dead mamma, that was not fiction.
I don’t care if you believe that “they” are all going to go to hell in a handbasket.
I don’t care if you are sick and tired of hearing about Black Lives Matter. Because the lives of countless people–your black and brown brothers and sisters–mattered last week, they matter this week, and they will continue to matter in the future.
I don’t care. And you know what? If indeed you are a Christian then every single one of the people in your community is your brother and sister and you are blood-bound to be their keeper regardless of the fact that they don’t look, think, or act like you.
Do you want to be the light of the world? The city on a hill? The remnant? Then try living and breathing and working on God’s behalf. We can’t be the remnant and be concerned only for our concerns, worried that giving a few people basic human rights and freedoms will ruin our own agenda.
The worship of an institution called religion goes against all that the gospel of Christ stands for. We exist to worship God, and the only way that we can please him is stated clearly in Micah 6:
How can I stand up before God
and show proper respect to the high God?
Should I bring an armload of offerings
topped off with yearling calves?
Would God be impressed with thousands of rams,
with buckets and barrels of olive oil?
Would he be moved if I sacrificed my firstborn child,
my precious baby, to cancel my sin?
But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple:
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Listen, Abram was a good man and very respected among his neighbors. Despite the fact that he and Lot hadn’t seen each other in years probably, and despite the fact that Lot failed to be respectful and went his own way taking the best land for himself, Abram without question still rose to the rescue for his brother’s son. It didn’t matter that by rescuing Lot he was also going to rescue the sinful and wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah–Who cared?
And because he had God on his side, his mission to liberate the captives and return them home was successful.
The people of God are His representatives upon the earth, and He intends that they shall be lights in the moral darkness of this world. Scattered all over the country, in the towns, cities, and villages, they are God’s witnesses, the channels through which He will communicate to an unbelieving world the knowledge of His will and the wonders of His grace….The piety of the Christian constitutes the standard by which unbelievers judge the gospel. (EGW, Patriarchs and Prophets).
If we Christians, a rmed with our resources, our voices, our love of God, and what privilege we have stop fighting and resisting the fact that wrong has been done and it needs to be solved. If we open enough to others and are willing to LISTEN and work with them and LOVE them, then the world will want to hear what we have to say.
And maybe, just maybe, we will finally see what generations before us longed to witness with their own eyes:
God’s will being done in this world, and His kingdom here on earth.
— [THEME MUSIC] —
Did you get this far? Then thank you for listening.
That’s gonna be it for this week. The featured flower segment will return next episode.
Anyway, you can find more about this and other episodes at feelsandflowers.com. You can find episode transcripts and extras on the post for this episode.
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Love you! Until next time… please remember that you are beautiful, you are loved, and you were made with a purpose.