This has become the rallying cry in the face of police abuse and human rights violations. Some have naively responded with “all lives matter” and they do. Of course, all lives matter, even the unborn children. They matter to God, they matter to me and they should matter to you. Lives must matter! But that is not the proper response in this situation because the issue at hand is the abuse, the discrimination and the belittlement that people with darker colored skin than I have had to endure for years. Saying “all lives matter” is like saying to the fire department (when your neighbor’s house is burning down) “Hey, every house matters! Spray water on my house too.” It is insensitive and it distracts from the present issue. The reality and the immediacy of the situation is that the house on fire is the one that really matters in that moment. This is the moment to proclaim “black lives matter.”
The kettle has boiled over and black, white, red, yellow and brown have all had enough. If black lives do not matter then NO LIVES MATTER and that is a scary thought. We stand together with our brethren. Rev. Martin Niemoller, a Lutheran Minister and theologian opposing Hitler’s Nazi Germany has famously said:
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
He ended up in a concentration camp and only narrowly escaped execution.
We need to speak out in the face of injustice. When will we finally listen to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who proclaimed that he had a dream when all people would be judged by their character and not by the color of their skin? This goes in every direction. We should not judge anyone by the color of their skin. The Bible is clear in that “God is no respecter of persons.” This does not mean that God does not treat us differently (he does). Any parent knows that each child is an individual to be treated accordingly. It simply means that God is blind to our outward appearance and judges people by their hearts and their actions, not by their outer shells. Should we not do the same? Indeed that was the cry of the early Church in the New Testament:
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
The big “racial divide” in the first century was not “Black or White” but “Jew or Gentile.” The early (mostly Jewish) Church didn’t always follow the Lord’s command it but the command was there. God had to continually remind them.
One of the greatest compliments I was ever paid was by my long time law partner some years ago. He said to me “I notice that you treat the doorman with the same respect and attitude exactly as how you would treat the President.” I said, “And why shouldn’t I? These are human beings created in the image and likeness of the great God, our Creator. Do they not deserve such respect?” He agreed.
No human being is inconsequential. If you want to stay on God’s good side you must “act justly and walk humbly.” This is why justice is an important God concept. This is one reason why I became a lawyer. I have tried to achieve this in my practice, even if imperfectly. I have handled civil rights cases involving racial discrimination against African Americans and I have sued the police when they are wrong. I have preached in black Churches. I am not anti police. I also represent many police officers. The largest case I ever handled involved a seriously injured cop. I am pro law enforcement. The absence of law is lawlessness! I have many police officer friends. I have many African American friends. I am simply anti EVIL. Human beings should be anti Evil! There is no other way. God is gracious and forgiving but he does not tolerate evil actions in the abuse of others…ever, in any form and on either side. Not even revenge is justified because the Bible says “vengeance is mine, says the Lord.” Justice is quite different from revenge, by the way. How you treat others is how you will be treated. The Bible is quite clear on that. Some call it “karma” but the Bible calls it the law of “sowing and reaping.” What you reap is what you sow. “If you live by the sword you will die by the sword.”
This spiritual law also holds true for the terrible crimes (murders, injuries and destruction of property) being committed under cover of the legitimate outrage and protest. This is the work of the devil. Jesus says “t]he thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).” God is always in favor of life, safety and order. God also sees who the evil people are even as they camouflage themselves in the masks of protest. Wrong is wrong done by any shade of color. There is an objective moral standard imposed on the human species, all of us. It is God who makes and enforces morality, not us. We just need to “get with the program.” The sooner you are on God’s side the better, especially for you.
Having grown up in a very Christian home from my earliest years we were taught that all people deserve respect until proven otherwise. The old song I learned as a kid is as true now as it ever was; if only more people would learn it:
“Red and Yellow black and white, they are precious in his sight; Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
Yes. And Black Lives Matter!