Many evangelical and conservative Christians, especially older white Christians of conservative persuasion, are weary of the popular slogan: “Black Lives Matter.” Some are even angry at the actual movement that is associated with this name and believe it is harmful to our culture. I’ve heard various responses regarding this negative view of the slogan and the movement but the most common is that this is a bogus notion because Christians should say, and believe, that: “All Lives Matter.” The truth is, as often is the case, much deeper and more socially and personally nuanced.
It is true that “All Lives Matter.” From conception to the grave life matters. This is, at least for the broad tradition of Christian faith and practice, the truth. This is why I believe the death penalty needs to be abolished. It has become a “cruel and unusual punishment” in its present form. (This assumes it was right in the past and I even question this conclusion on ethical grounds as I understand the New Testament and the teaching of our Lord.) I also believe environmental concerns must become the concern of the church because life matters, all life. Regardless of your political view about this issue surely we can agree that life in this biosphere is precious and we are to “steward” it with love and care; cf. Genesis 1:26. (“Dominion” in the Hebrew of this text does not mean the right to destroy and dominate or trample down the good of this earth, our home and God’s world!)
But here is the rub. “Black Lives Matter” is not about Black being superior to White or any other race or color. It is about valuing the weakest and poorest in our society. It is about true freedom and opportunity to advance and improve your life and to be (and feel) safe in your car and on the streets of our cities. It is about justice and mercy, at least for Christians. I am grateful that Urbana 2015 included an address by Michelle Higgins on this issue. It was given with great power and clarity.