American Reform for Black Lives


I hope everyone had wonderful celebrations of our nation’s Independence this past weekend. While we are aptly reminded that not all Americans experienced liberty on that famous day of July, the groundwork was laid for a nation under God and not under a foreign monarchy or a nation where the State is god. Without that liberty being foundational to America, we would all be experiencing a very different world. But at the same time, we would be grievously remiss to ignore those whose freedom came much too late and who are still rightly fighting for the full enjoyment of that precious liberty.

It is easy for those of us who do not face challenges of race to think all this was taken care of with the civil rights legislation in the 1960’s. But how many of us know that laws alone do not change a culture? Even when good laws are in place, laws and policies of injustice can and do remain.

Do we really want to return to normal?

I hear many friends wishing for the streets to go quiet. We desire life to go back to normal. But if this were to happen what would normal look like for those still experiencing systemic injustice? In the sixties, there was a cry for law and order just as there is today. But the upheaval could not be squelched by law and order but resolved, in part, through truth and justice. Today the same phrase is being levied. But what if we took the time to ask more questions? What if we listened? What if we did not let this moment of history pass by without participating in making our nation more just?

What should our response be?

I understand the political caution. But when it is only the liberally minded who are taking up the call of justice, the worldview response will be markedly different than the conservative evangelical response. But, alas, there is not much of a conservative response is there?  The conservative response looks more like a reaction. It looks like repeating history and championing “law and order.” It looks like praying for all this to end or for the Lord to return. We will move toward racial unity, but not toward action that makes a difference for black lives. We are too concerned that that would be too liberal, maybe even Marxist. Thus, we retreat. Unlike Jesus, we distance ourselves.

Think with me for a moment: Do we want Progressivism or even Marxism to be pervasive in this land through their championing of racial justice? We leave it to do just that when we remain absent wishing only for peaceful streets.

Can we seek justice without the worldview connected to social justice?

We are leery of the term “social justice” as it has a great deal of liberal baggage. But when we argue that Christianity is only about changing hearts and not tangible reform work in the world, we drive deep into the ditch on the other side. Reformation is about discipling all areas of society. Reformers take the gospel truth into all institutions and systems that make up a nation.

William Wilberforce was such a reformer. Instead of merely praying for hearts to change, Wilberforce worked in the systems of society to see practical change. His team, The Clapham Circle, worked in art, education, awareness campaigns, formed societies of freed slaves, and finally Parliamentary legislation. Wilberforce created lasting reformation of culture in his own lifetime through being the hands and feet of Jesus in the world.

Are we changing our standard based on the cause?

When we work for the cause of pro-life, we want to see laws change. We want to actively help women keep their babies. We create centers to this end. We do reform work in this area. We do not simply pray for heart changes even though there is a good deal of prayer. Let us do no less for black lives.

As a worldview revitalizer, my goal is to address cultural issues from a Christian worldview. Sometimes we make the mistake in thinking that a Christian worldview is synonymous with a political party. Instead, it should be in tension with any political party we have in this nation. While Christianity informs politics, it is not chained to politics. That does not mean one may not adhere more to one party than another, but that it is not the party that informs us of what is good and true. Truth is usually not found in the crowd mentality. We must welcome nuance. There is more to learn than the memes that sum up simple thinking about complex issues.

Can we be more careful with what we share on social media?

In fact, I caution strongly against sharing memes in the vein of “all lives matter” or “blue lives matter.” I saw a tweet this weekend that simply said “all countries matter” on July 4th. Is that not jolting?! This is what we are doing. It is like have a birthday party for everyone instead of for the one for which it is to be special.

There is a poignant conversation in Pixar’s Incredibles where Mrs. Incredible tells her son, Dash, that “everyone is special,” to which Dash responds, “which is another way of saying that no one is.” While no one is arguing that black lives are more important than “everyone” or “blue lives,” changing the slogan changes its point of reform. The argument is that there is still much reform to be done so that black lives matter as much as everyone else in the systems in our nation. These systems are not affecting everyone or blue lives, but specifically are a hardship on black lives. Moreover, we do not want to change it to “unborn lives matter” because there are already many great reformers working in this area without hijacking the slogan created to help a specific group. Love looks like not changing the subject.

Will you join me in listening and learning?

I have a whole lot to learn in this area. To my discredit, I have only just begun to do my homework. I could not hear before. I could not see past the politics. I could not love past the barriers of political lines. I have not significantly altered my political worldview. I have, however, expanded my Kingdom worldview. I have also untangled what I saw as only political into something that is very much about reformation. In that context, in the context of discipling nations which requires an integrated equality of all its citizens, I am now doing my homework. I hope you will do yours too.

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3 thoughts on “American Reform for Black Lives

  1. Pingback: Worldview Bulletin: Property and Liberty – Karla Perry

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