Monday, July 18, 2016

#BlackLivesMatter #AllLivesMatter #Hate #Love.

I have hesitated to write or blog about any of what has been happening in the news lately simply because so much has already been written and so much has already been said.  However, I thought that as a Christian and as a pastor it would be important for me to write down a couple of things.

The first thing I want to write about is:


I am not here going to discuss any particular methods used by the powers that be in the movement, nor any possible extreme elements of the movement.  I am here going to simply discuss the words and philosophy behind many regular people who say, "black lives matter."

I think the best way to put this so that all people would understand the thinking behind the movement is this:  Everyone who knows me knows that I am Pro-Life.  I absolutely, unequivocally, unquestionably believe that human personhood begins at the conception of egg and sperm inside of a woman.  From the very first cell-division, personhood begins.  Therefore to take a pill to eradicate that conception, to physically go inside of a woman and eradicate this life, is to commit murder.  Therefore, I believe that over 54 million human beings in our country have been willfully murdered.  In this way, I absolutely believe that the powers that be in this country, the structures of our country, do not believe that babies lives matter.

Now, imagine me standing outside of a Planned Parenthood facility - a facility dedicated, in my mind, to infanticide.  Imagine me holding a sign that says, #BabiesLivesMatter.  You would get what I was saying.  I don't think anyone would say to me, "hey-are you trying to say that adults' lives don't matter?  Are you denying the importance of adults?"  No...people would get that I was staking out a position - that this is a place that does not care about babies.  This is a place that indiscriminately kills babies.  Therefore, to highlight that babies' lives do not matter here, I am making the statement that, "Babies matter."

In this way I see that many in the #AllLivesMatter movement and the #BlackLivesMatter movement are talking past each other.  They are not even having the same discussion.

I have many parishioners in the congregation of which I serve that are black.  I happen to live in a County in Maryland where the majority of people that live here are black.  I have spoken to many [not all] but many of the black parishioners I serve - and many of the black parishioners which I serve as their pastor expressed to me that they do not believe that their lives mattered to the powers that be in our society as much as other people's lives.  Many expressed that as far as law enforcement is concerned, as far as opportunity is concerned, as far as the structures of society are concerned, they do not feel as though their lives mattered as much as others.  The great majority in the Black Lives Matter movement are simply pointing to what they believe is their experience - and their experience is that they do not believe that they are treated equitably and fairly.

Now, this is either true or false.  Just as my above example of abortion being murder is true or false. If abortion is not murder, than I am saying Babies' lives matter one is treating them as if they do not.  If Abortion is murder, then I need to highlight the infanticide under our nose, I need to work tirelessly to help mothers who are considering abortion to carry to term and value life, and I need to work tirelessly to educate people on the importance of babies.  I will continue to advocate that laws are passed that value human life.  I will not back down - because I believe that to back down would be to passively say that murder is ok.

The same goes with this movement.  If black people are treated by the powerful in our country as less valuable, then that absolutely, unequivocally needs to be addressed.  If it is false, then we need to address the falsehood head on.  I am not going answer the question whether this claim is true or false.  That is actually not the point of the post.  However, that is the real question being asked.  At the very least, let us have a discussion about the real question.  I am very tired of seeing people build very weak straw men and then easily knocking them down.  The question is not, "do all lives matter?"  The question is not, "do black lives matter more than other people's lives?"  Perhaps fringe people think that.  Perhaps people are co-opting the movement to say that.  However, I do not believe any reasonable person is trying to say that - on either side of the issue, I do not believe anyone is saying that.

However, this leads me to my calling as a Christian.  As a Christian I am called to love my neighbor as I love myself.  Remember it was our Lord that said in Luke 6:27-36, ""But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. "If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful."

With this in mind, if I knew that my neighbor thought that Christians were jerks who were judgy and mean, I would be compelled to go the extra mile with that neighbor to show, to the best of my ability, that I, as a Christian, love them.  If I know that they have a pre-conceived notion about me, I take extra care with them.  This is love.  If I know that my black friends and neighbors believe that they are being singled out and treated as if they are, "bad" off the bat, then for the love of God go the extra mile with them.  Tell them you love them.  Tell them you care about them.  Tell them that you cannot solve all of society's ills, but you can tell them that you love them and value them.

If I know that the police in my area are on edge and they feel attacked and hated by the community which they serve, I, as a Christian, believe it is my absolute duty to take greater care as I deal with them.  If I get pulled over, I answer, "yes officer" and "no officer" and give them the utmost respect.  When I see an officer I say, "thank you for your service."  I also have police officers in my own family, and I can say first hand that what they do is indispensable.  This is what is called being Christian - loving those who are hurting.  If I know you are hurting, I am called to be a person of care, not anger.

Beloved, we must remember that there are a great many people that make money off of our anger.  They need us to keep watching.  They want to make us angry because they believe that keeping us divided into groups and sub/groups will keep them in power.  Division is not the work of God - it is the work of the enemy.  Remember that.  Your anger gets them to have you in their grip, but it gets us no closer to Christ and our neighbor.

Please know that I am not here advocating for any government program or political persuasion.  I am writing as a Christian.  I serve a God who loves us so much that though we did not care about Him, though in thought, word, and deed we treated Him as if His life did not matter, He came down from heaven and became one of us.

I serve a God who became flesh and cast out demons, raised the dead, healed the sick, blind, and lame, and walked on water.  Take a close look at His life - He healed the Jew and the Genitle.  He ministered to the Samaritan and the Centurion.  Every single person - no matter what group - was accepted by Christ as they came to Him and believed on Him.

When I treated God as though His life did not matter, He treated me as though I was all that mattered.  That is what the cross is.  He died for my sin and He rose again to give me life.

Beloved, it is time to turn off the news and to love our neighbors - all of them.  Those that feel marginalized, please, go that extra mile.  Walk two with them.  Hear them.  And then give them Jesus Christ - He is better than any party or group or movement.  He is the Savior of the world.