Dear Fellow White Christians,
Black lives matter, and they should matter more than yours. Skin color has nothing to do with it, by the way. Not because skin color doesn’t matter (it does), but because as Christians we are openly called to honor other people over ourselves. We are called to lay down our rights for the sake of others. Christ commands us toward a sacrificial humility that gives of our own privilege and abundance in order that the persecuted and oppressed might find freedom.
I’ve seen too many white Christians counter the #BlackLivesMatter movement with the phrase #AllLivesMatter. And you’re not wrong at all. Our faith teaches that Yahweh “made from one blood all nations who live on the earth” (Acts 17:26, NLV). It proclaims that humankind is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and that, therefore, to murder another human is to murder God in effigy (Matthew 25:31-46). It upholds the value of all lives and places the distinctions of ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status under (but not made unimportant within) the flagship banner of unity in Christ (Gal. 3:28).
Many of you are saying #AllLivesMatter because you are seeking unity. You feel excluded by the phrase #BlackLivesMatter. After all, aren’t we to judge someone not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character? And that’s right, of course. When folks say “Black Lives Matter,” for just a second you feel like yours doesn’t. Or maybe that it does, but not as much. You feel less than. You feel othered.
As a white Christian in the United States, this is not a common feeling for us. We’re used to power. We’re used to being the majority in any room we walk into. We’re used to our skin tone, our culture, our way of life, being considered the “default.” Some of us have never even considered this before or thought about what a privilege it is to have not needed to. So the minute that we’re excluded from a group—particularly a group about worth and value—that uncommon sting of exclusion rises up.
You want to have worth. You want to be valued. “ALL LIVES MATTER,” You say the obvious to insert yourself back into the conversation to make sure you matter again. And of course you do: you were made in the image of God Himself (as are your Black brothers and sisters). The call comes for unity. Not Black or White or any other shade on the skin-toned rainbow but All. Because we want unity.
The dark-skinned Apostle Paul gave us the secret for unity when he commanded us to emulate the equally dark-skinned Jesus:
So I’m asking you, my friends, that you be joined together in perfect unity—with one heart, one passion, and united in one love. Walk together with one harmonious purpose and you will fill my heart with unbounded joy… in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves…Possess a greater concern for what matters to others instead of your own interests. – Philippians 2:2-5, TPT
Unity comes only through viewing others—and their lives—as more important than our own. White Christians: Black Lives Matter, and they should matter to us more than our own. This is biblical. This is evangelical. This is Christ. We must treat our Black brothers and sisters as if their lives matter more to us than our own. All lives matter, but all lives are meant to be upheld as higher than our own. Particularly if they are the subjects of injustice.
The book of Proverbs ends with the sayings of King Lemuel. Some believe that this was merely another name for Solomon, but this isn’t the time for that discussion. Specifically, we are told that these are things his mother taught him (Proverbs 31:1). So picture this: a young prince full of honor and privilege and power being taught by his mother how to wield his voice and handle his authority. Her words:
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice. – Proverbs 31:8-9, NLT
White Christians: We have a voice. We have power. We have authority. As Christians, we must use those privileges to take the knee from the neck of our Black brothers and sisters. We must be the voices of those who cannot breathe and amplify the voices of our Black brothers and sisters crying out for justice. To do otherwise is antichrist.
Don’t think for one moment that your voice, because it is White, carries an inherent power and authority. That is simply the culture and privilege to which you’ve been born into. You are not the Black man’s savior. The success of people of color does not hinge on you sacrificially sharing your privilege. Equality is not you magnanimously sharing a privilege that is your birthright. Equality is you recognizing the inequality, using your privileged voice and position to ensure that their voices are heard, and stepping aside to allow those empowered voices to be fully heard. The purpose of privilege is to spread it out to those who have little or none.
Equality for our brothers and sisters of color will come. If not in this empire, then for certainty in all fulness in God’s Kingdom. I daresay if we did not join in that equality or give it voice in this lifetime, we just may be prevented from doing so in the next. If we do not use our voices to cry out, then we will be silenced. White Christians: Black lives should matter more than yours.