Updated: Apr 29, 2021
Since George Floyd was tragically and disturbingly killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has gained incredible momentum within our country and around the world. How should Christians respond to this movement? How should they respond to the related social justice movement? The answers are not as simple as you might think.
A True Statement
On the surface it seems that Christians should whole-heartedly support BLM. We believe that all people have equal value, regardless of the color of their skin, because they are all created in the image of God. Black lives (and all human lives) matter.
When it comes to social justice, Christians need to remember that God cares about justice. He desires that we would treat other human beings fairly. He commands “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…”[i] and “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”[ii] God also cares for the broken and the needy of society. He gives many commands to care for the poor. He is a “father to the fatherless and protector of widows.”[iii]
A Dangerous Movement
On the surface it seems we should support BLM. The problem is that there is a lot going on below the surface. BLM has a bigger agenda than simply fighting against racism. On their website, they express strong support for the LGBTQ and feminist movements. They also explain that they “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement…” In other words, they believe that it is not important for families to have both a mother and a father.[iv] This is troublesome, because they are failing to address an issue that is causing all kinds of problems within black communities. That issue is an extremely high rate of fatherless homes.
Why would BLM be so closely involved in these other movements? The answer goes back to social justice. When you look into the philosophy behind social justice, you find that social justice isn’t so concerned about individuals.[v] Instead it focuses on groups. It identifies certain groups as being “oppressed” and other groups as being the “oppressors.” The idea is that all black people are somehow oppressed, and all white people are somehow oppressing them. That is why you hear the term “white privilege.” In the same way, LGBTQ people are all oppressed, and everyone else has oppressed them. Women are all oppressed, and all men are responsible for oppressing them.
Most people would agree that there is racism between some people, in some places, in some situations. This racism should grieve us as Christians. We should also acknowledge that historically, there have been laws in our country that favored white people. One example would be the redlining of housing districts. In many places, the impact of such laws can still be seen. We need to be willing to consider whether there are ways in which black communities still may tend to be disadvantaged. However, a proper concern about these issues is different than saying that there is racism between all people, in all places, and in all situations.
According to social justice, once groups are identified, reparations need to be made. Somehow the “oppressor” group needs to make up for what they have done to the “oppressed” group, and laws need to be made to fix the oppression. Social justice tends to promote socialism, where the government is in charge of how goods are produced and distributed.[vi]
To stop racism, we need to grow color blind. We need to see people as being fundamentally the same regardless of their race. Ironically, BLM emphasizes a difference between black people and white people. It encourages an us verse them mindset.
A Loving Response
When we start to understand these things, it can make us frustrated and angry, but we need to remember that “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”[vii] Instead, we need to be “quick to hear” and “slow to speak.”[viii] We need to listen to the hurt and pain of others. We need to have genuine love and compassion for all people, regardless of skin color – even when we disagree with their philosophies and tactics.
We also need to admit that oppression is a real problem. Many people around us have been oppressed or disadvantaged in some way. Many people in our community have been dealt a rough hand in life. God calls us to have compassion for these people. Their problems are not usually going to be solved simply by changes in laws or policies. Instead, those people need to be cared for and loved on an individual basis. This means getting involved and getting our hands messy. Understanding and respect come when we build relationships with people who are different than us, whether that difference is the color of our skin, the amount of money we have, the religion we follow, or the community we grew up in. In these relationships, we need to be able to find common ground and have productive and peaceful conversations about things that we disagree on.
Our greatest concern must be that people would come to know Jesus. He is the only one who can truly heal broken people, broken relationships, and broken communities. True healing only comes as people enter into a right relationship with their Creator through the blood of Jesus Christ. Only He can change hearts so that people will truly and sacrificially love one another.
The Need for Discernment
This topic is an important reminder of how important it is for Christians to practice discernment. That means that we look at what Scripture says about the messages that we hear in our culture. The Bible tells us that “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”[ix] He is going to use messages that sound good as a cover-up for evil. That means that we need to look into phrases that are commonly used in our culture. What ideas are behind the phrases?
Discernment takes effort, but if we are not intentional about it, we will let our culture change our thinking without even realizing it. We are told to “take every thought captive to obey Christ.”[x] This means studying the Bible, so that you know how God wants you to think. Then apply God’s Word to the messages that are thrown at you. When you listen to a song, take time to think about its meaning. When you watch a show, ask yourself what ideas it is promoting. We must not passively take things into our minds without thinking about them. It is too dangerous!
Here are a few resources that will help you better understand BLM and social justice.
· Defining Social Justice | Dr. Voddie Baucham (video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFNOP2IqwoY
· 5 Ways Christians are Getting Swept into a Secular Worldview in this Cultural Moment | Natasha Crain (article) - https://christianmomthoughts.com/5-ways-christians-are-getting-swept-into-a-secular-worldview-in-this-cultural-moment/
· The Incompatibility of Critical Theory and Christianity |Neil Shenvi and Pat Sawyer (article)
[i] Matthew 7:12 (All Scripture citations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.) [ii] Philippians 2:4 [iii] Psalm 68:5 [iv] https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe/ [v] The philosophy behind social justice is called “critical theory” or “cultural Marxism.” [vi] Lexico.com defines socialism as “A political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” [vii] James 1:20 [viii] James 1:19 [ix] James 11:14 [x] 2 Corinthians 10:5