I scoured the Black Lives Matter website, Facebook page, and others in search of this question: Why do black lives matter? From my perspective, the answer is obvious; but, my perspective is certainly not the one held by the founders of the movement. Christian leaders are quick to jump on the bandwagon sharing #BlackLivesMatter, joining protests, et. al. because it’s true. Black lives matter. But why?
The closest I came to that answer on the Black Lives Matter website was this statement, “We affirm our humanity, our contributions to society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.” “Matter” in its verbal form is referring to importance or significance. So, the argument would go that black lives are significant because they are human, they contribute to society, and are resilient. Let’s look at these in detail from a secular worldview where God cannot be used to justify beliefs.
Perhaps black lives matter because they are human. Well, why do humans matter? Why are humans significant? Stephen Cave says, “The contemporary scientific image of human behavior is one of neurons firing, causing other neurons to fire, causing our thoughts and deeds, in an unbroken chain that stretches back to our birth and beyond.” Richard Dawkins in his book The River out of Eden says, “The universe we observe has… no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind indifference… DNA neither knows or cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.”
In essence, to quote an episode of Star Trek, we are “ugly bags of mostly water.” Why is that significant? If we emerged randomly from chaos, our thought patterns and behaviors are determined in the big bang by the firing of our neurons. Albert Camus believes one of the greatest philosophical problems is why we shouldn’t commit suicide. So, from a godless perspective, being “human” does not add any significance, regardless of your color.
Unless of course, you go to some classic Darwinism and see what colors of people certain Darwinists believed to be superior. There, significance is determined by where you are on the evolutionary scale.
2. Contribution to Society
Well, perhaps people are significant based on their contribution to society. Which sounds alright until you bring it to its logical conclusion: people who do not contribute to society are not significant. You know, like infants, the elderly, the mentally unstable.
Tied to this thought is the idea of, “resilience to deadly oppression,” from the Black Lives Matter website’s affirmation. Perhaps it’s not fiscal, or physical contribution to society, but positive moral influence to society that makes individuals significant. Well, here’s what Alexander Rosenberg says in his Atheist’s Guide to Reality:
“What is the nature of reality? What physics says it is. What is the purpose of the universe? There is none. What is the meaning of life? Ditto. Why am I here? Just dumb luck. Does prayer work? Of course not. Is there a soul? Is it immortal? Are you kidding? Is there free will? Not a chance! What happens when we die? Everything pretty much goes on as before, except us. What is the difference between right and wrong, good and bad? There is no moral difference between them.Why should I be moral? Because it makes you feel better than being immoral. Is abortion, euthanasia, suicide, paying taxes, foreign aid, or anything else you don’t like forbidden, permissible, or sometimes obligatory? Anything goes.”
Sam Harris says, “Free will is actually more than an illusion (or less), in that it cannot be made conceptually coherent. Either our wills are determined by prior causes and we are not responsible for them, or they are the product of chance and we are not responsible for them.” Your moral behavior, from this perspective, is not even really chosen by you anyways; thus, you don’t matter because of how you act.
Furthermore, this would bring out another question: what is moral? What is good? A world devoid of absolute truth is surely a world devoid of moral truth. Therefore, significance cannot be determined by contribution or morality.
This would be more of a Critical Race Theory answer. Black lives are significant because they are not a part of the hegemony and are being oppressed both systemically and unconsciously by the culture at large. Even if one conceded all ground and affirmed the previous sentence as being 100% true, that could not be why black lives matter. Two reasons: (1) that would mean people who are not oppressed are not significant and (2) that would mean in order for someone to become significant they have to become oppressed (which would be a terrible teleology).
Now, honestly, I disagree with the cultural Marxist definitions of oppression and hegemony (not that I deny the fact that oppression is a real problem in our society); however, we can see this has effects. And as an aside, I hope you know that if a Marxist revolution does take place, the first people they will imprison are the ones who feel oppressed and attempt to protest. If you don’t believe me, just ask a Uighur Muslim in China.
So. . . Why do Black Lives Matter?
As we have seen, from a godless perspective, black lives cannot matter due to being human, moral or any other contribution to society, or because of being oppressed. The official Black Lives Matter movement can’t even explain why black lives matter. Churches have for far too long turned to the sociologist and secularist to determine truth. And now, Christians are posting (eisegetical) Bible memes about why saying “All lives matter” is ridiculous (and to clarify, I’m not saying the “all lives matter” movement is the answer either). Christians are angry with their pastors for not speaking up. So, now a movement starts with an essentially true statement “Black Lives Matter.” So, Christians in emotional fervor and on a steady diet of cotton candy theology have just echoed the catchphrase without ever asking, “Why?” Christians have bought into the lie that black liberation from government oppression and police brutality is the end of all goals. Christians have bought into the lie that building someone’s self-esteem is actually a good thing. Christians have bought into the lie that the world has the moral high ground, apparently higher than the law of God. Christians have bought into the lie that saying “black lives matter” is enough.
Black lives don’t just “matter,” they are created in the image of God. What does this mean? I believe it can have many plausible implications, but the main point is this: to make much of God. Think about a statue made in the image of some Roman emperor. When one looks at that statue, they don’t think, “Wow, look at that lump of stone.” Instead the think of the emperor whose image it resembles.
When someone looks at a black individual the thought should not be, “Hey, your life matters because your lump of cells just so happened to evolve into a human so that you could potentially contribute to our meaningless society.” And I want you to know Christian, that when you hashtag BlackLivesMatter, that’s about all it amounts to. Instead, when someone looks at a black individual, God’s intention was for the thought to be, “Behold the very glory of God!” God knew exactly what he was doing when he decided to design the beauty of black skin.
Now, we live in a Genesis 3 world, that is, one fallen into sin and misery. The image of God has not gone away. In the Noahic Covenant (Genesis 9:6) murder is condemned specifically because man was made in God’s image. Therefore, an implication of being made in God’s image is possessing dignity and inalienable rights. Humanity’s purpose is to “image” God’s glory. This purpose can be hindered by individuals, societal systems, and governments. Black lives don’t just matter, they’re designed to be a magnificent and beautiful display of God’s glory. When civil authorities or anyone hinders that, they should be called out on the basis of God’s standard.
Protests, social media posturing, radical Marxist movements, and government reform is not enough to restore the dignity due to black lives. Defunding police, stopping the abortion mills, and reparations are not enough to show the true worth of black lives. The only thing that can restore the true beauty of blackness is the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. Black lives don’t just matter, they’re worth the shedding of eternal blood. The wrath of almighty God is wiped away, and you are transferred into the kingdom of the Eternal Son (who’s not white, by the way), if you place your faith and trust in him to deliver you from the bondage of sin.
In that kingdom there is no injustice. In that kingdom, there is no police brutality and racial profiling. In that kingdom there is no tokenism. In that kingdom there are no abortion mills started by eugenesists with the goal of the anihilation of the black population. Come quickly Lord Jesus.
The point of this article is not to tell you to stop protesting or using your social media platform to effect change. However, it has to be clear that joining behind a secular movement that cannot even explain why black lives matter is not enough. And, it’ll be easy to see if their social Marxist telos comes to fruition as even more injustice will abound. Movements apart from God will inevitably lead to injustice. So please remember, Black lives don’t just matter, they’re worth infinitely more.