Taken at face value, the phrase black lives matter is a phrase that no sensible person could differ with. Of course they do. Also taken at face value, the rejoinder all lives matter is equally true. Of course they do.
The reason for the back and forth, then, has nothing to do with the meaning of the phrases as they might be ascertained from the dictionary, or from a normal person interested in social stability. Rather, we need to be attuned to the political meanings of the phrases, and in order to determine that we have to look at current usage. Put another way, black lives matter would be a wonderful sentiment if we found it in a personal letter of William Wilberforce to his mother. In the mouth of a black agitator calling for the murder of cops, it is an abuse of language, an instance of outrageous and hateful slang. When he says “black lives matter,” it would be better to reply instantly, “No, in the sense you are intending, no, they don’t.”
Black lives matter is agitprop right out of the Frankfurt school, and they are doing a bang-up job with it, incidentally, about which more in a minute.
And it probably goes without saying that guilt-ridden white liberals love the phrase for reasons related to David Stove’s trenchant phrase — he refers to whites who “having renounced the pleasures of power . . discover the pleasures of guilt.” This goes double for the evangelical racial healers, who — in possession of the Holy Spirit — do for our race relations what Benny Hinn does for rheumatoid arthritis.
I saw one cute cartoon — cute in the sense of arch — that showed a house burning down, with the firemen hosing down the house next to it because, as they put it, “all houses matter.” But of course this misconstrues the scene entirely. It ought to show firemen hosing down the house on fire, with cops arresting the arsonists, who were hiding in the house next door. The fact that the arsonists were shouting noble phrases on the way to the patrol car should not make us ignore the fact that they were the ones busy with the gas cans earlier.
Christian and Color Blind
Sin, including racial sin, can only be committed in the present. We can and should seek to deal with downstream ramifications of sin from the past — restitution, reconciliation, and so on — but we can never address the impact of sin from the past by giving way to worse sin now. If you are wanting to fix the scars from hatred past, hatred present is never the way.
1. X shoots and kills Y. He claims that he did not intend to do it. It was an accident. There are good reasons to suspect that it might not have been an accident.
2. X shoots and kills Y. He claims that he did it intentionally, and that all who look like Y should die in a similar way.
In the first instance you reserve judgment, and arrange for an investigation and trial. In the second, you do what they did in Dallas. You should pursue this whether or not X and Y are all white, all black, or some of each.
For anyone who loves Christ, that color part shouldn’t matter. “You shall not be partial in judgment. You shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God’s” (Deut. 1:17, ESV).
Do we really need to know the color of X and Y in these scenarios in order to determine what we think about them? If you do not know how you would apply a moral judgment to such situations before knowing the color of X and the color of Y, then — speaking frankly here — you are in high rebellion against the Word of God. The Golden Rule is neither black nor white. The Golden Rule is just the color it is supposed to be.
One Way War
What the Black Lives Matter agitators are wanting is the lopsided circumstance of a one-way war. In a war, you are in lethal combat with a group, and if it is on a large enough scale you may find yourself having to fight (and perhaps kill) adversaries who were as decent as the slain Dallas cops were. That could happen, and it could happen in a just war. It could happen in either direction, or in both, and that is part of what makes wars so terrible.
In police action, the desire is to take a criminal as a prisoner alive wherever possible. Having been apprehended, he is then to be given the presumption of innocence and a fair trial. In police work, you are dealing with individuals as individuals. Sometimes this is very difficult (as in a riot), but it is always the desideratum. When riot conditions become normal, what you actually have is de facto civil war.
Now what the incendiary rhetoric of Black Lives Matter wants is the rules of warfare in one direction, and minimal police action in the other. And the answer is that such a thing is impossible. Being impossible, it may be tentatively ranked among those things that are not going to happen. They are not trying to make that impossibility happen. They are trying to make chaos happen so that they can be in a position to make something else happen. That something else is the revolution. All I can tell you, brother, is you have to wait.
I mentioned the Frankfurt School of Stage Four Critical Theory fame. In this view, those who belong to the oppressed classes cannot, by definition, be guilty of anything. Achieving membership in such a class is therefore quite a privilege. If you are black you can’t be a racist, for example. Correction, if you are the right kind of oppressed black you can’t be a racist. Clarence Thomas can be racist because he has been ejected from the oppressed class for his misbehavior, which was, upon examination, thinking for himself.
Always Back to Gospel
Critical Theory is therefore a social theory that counterfeits the great gospel truth of justification. Aping the apostle, and trying to steal glory from the gospel of grace, the Black Lives Matter movement says to the most hateful and malicious people . . . no condemnation.
But the words ring hollow because they are spoken by liars. Their message is not based on the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. A preacher of the gospel can say no condemnation, but no one else can. If a preacher of the gospel undertakes to deliver this message, he must preach it to every creature. He must do it in the spirit of the words of the Sunday School song I learned when I was a kid — preach to red and yellow, black and white. Does that sound corny? Too bad.
This planet really is screwed up, and we do need preachers of the gospel declaring this message. But the no condemnation is offered indiscriminately to all — Jew and Greek, black and white, male and female, slave or free. It is offered because of the cross of Christ, and on that basis alone.
Black Lives Matter denies this gospel, and anyone who carries water for them is thinking about doing the same.