Matthew 12:36 (ESV): “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Colossians 4:6 (NIV): “Let you conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV): “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”
WHERE IS THE CHRISTIAN VOICE?
LIKE MANY AMERICANS, and people throughout the world, I spent much of the summer months watching in horror as bands of lawless thugs mingled with angry protestors, destroying not just the physical structures of our great cities but also laid out a full-scale assault on American values.
Not only did many set fires, smash windows, and loot small businesses, but additional thugs desecrated statutes raised to honor our nation’s history. Even those statutes raised to honor Confederate troops were erected originally to help restore honor and dignity to those forces that suffered defeat in the War Between the States (some call it the Civil War).
Thuggery says that if you disagree with me, your view is evil and must be smashed. If you persist in expressing your view, then you must be smashed.
This is not the essence of what America is about … but it might well be essence of what America is becoming.
ALL WORDS MATTER
JUST THINK ABOUT how words matter and how quickly we can misrepresent something beautiful with a minor tweak in the lettering.
Take, for example, the slogan “black lives matter.” When stated with lower case letters, the generic message says the lives of a certain race created by God in His image matter to Him and should matter to each of us, just as the lives of members of all races matter to Him and should to us.
However, when the slogan is capitalized, as in “Black Lives Matter,” the words reflect a brand endorsing a political group favoring the left-wing politics of division and intersectionality.
SAME WORDS, DIFFERENT MESSAGE
WHILE THE WORDS are the same, the message is different.
We cannot come together as a country and a nation when some people use the political slogan to bludgeon those who oppose the group’s left-wing political goals while affirming the beauty of the generic words, the beauty that black lives—and all other lives—created by God in His image and for His glory, matter.
That’s why many of us push for an end to abortion, introduction of alternative schools to improve educational outcomes, and an influx of private investment in impoverished communities to improve employment rates and economic growth.
Because the lives of those left behind matter.
DO BLACK LIVES REALLY MATTER?
IN THE REAL WORLD, do black lives matter?
What about black babies? Do their lives matter?
- A recent study showed that black women continue to have the highest abortion rate at 27.1 per 1,000 women compared with 10 abortions per 1,000 white women (American Journal of Public Health).
- Black women accounted for 36 percent of the abortions in 2015, a figure almost identical to the percentage of abortions (36 percent) that year among white Americans, who made up 76.6 percent of the population (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
- The Guttmacher Institute (a pro-abortion group) says “black women are more than 5 times as likely as white women to have an abortion.”
What about the job prospects of black youth graduating from high school? Do their lives matter?
- Nationwide, black students graduated at a rate of 69 percent. Hispanics graduated at 73 percent; whites graduated at a rate of 86 percent.
- While dropout rates for all racial groups have dropped in recent decades, the black population remains higher than that for whites or Asians, with males more likely than females to drop out.
- Males comprise about 50 percent of the high school population but 60 percent of the dropouts. This harms their ability to provide for their families.
BREAKDOWN OF BLACK FAMILIES
WHAT ABOUT black families? Do their lives matter?
- Seventy-two percent of black babies are born to unmarried mothers today, according to government statistics.
- A government report in 1965 outlining the destruction of the black family reflected an out-of-wedlock birth rate of 25 percent. That figure jumped to 68 percent in 1991, 72 percent in 2011, and, in 2015, it rose to 77 percent—77 percent of black babies born to unmarried mothers.
- As for divorce, a study showed that over the last generation, the marriage rate among black Americans has declined while the rates of divorce, separation, cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births, and children residing in female-headed households have increased.
SERVING OUR LORD
THOSE STATISTICS are heart-breaking. While different studies yield slightly different numbers, the story remains the same: in most categories of life, black Americans lag behind other racial groups.
When Jesus told us that whatever we did “for the least of these” we did it to Him, He referenced those who were hungry and thirsty, in need of shelter or clothing, or were in prison, but He could just as well have pointed His divine finger at entire communities today where poverty, discouragement, and violence run rampant.
A colleague of mine recently veered from my point about language, saying, in effect, that if you are the victim of abuse, you don’t worry so much about how the words are written, you express yourself from the anguish in your heart.
True enough, but the upper case version of the words “black lives matter” is a brand, with a website proclaiming its vision, which is specific and not God-honoring. We who follow the Word of God do not need to repeat the brand name to reflect the beauty of the generic words.
RAY OF HOPE
AS STATISTICS SHOW, the need is great, but all is not lost. There is a bright ray of hope bathing the land.
Every school child in America is afforded free public education through 12th grade, with scholarships and low-interest loans available for continued education in community colleges and trade schools.
Every hungry child in America qualifies for free or subsidized meals in school.
Every child, whether gifted or special, disturbed or healthy, has access to a school guidance counselor, nurse, and an army of caring adult teachers and coaches to guide and mentor them.
Affirmative action laws guarantee preference in hiring, as long as the applicant has the necessary skills.
Finally, statistics show that any child can advance out of poverty simply by:
- Graduating from high school;
- Getting a job before marriage;
- Getting married before having babies.
OUR JOB AS CHRISTIANS, as followers of Jesus Christ, is to care for those God has placed in our lives. Some of those people are youth looking for guidance, while some are elderly who can use some help around the yard or an occasional visit.
Often, though, the need is just greater than what one man/woman can do on a one-day mission, whether it’s ministering to those in prison, or spreading the Gospel to a foreign land, or eradicating life-crippling poverty.
What is clear is that we need to work together as the body of Christ to make our mark on the world, to shine our light into the darkness.
That effort is hampered when some Christians, thinking they are helping, misuse the upper case brand name “Black Lives Matter,” which promotes a message counter to the love of Christ, instead of the lower case generic phrase, “black lives matter,” which gives the glory to God.
Words matter. We use them to communicate.
O LORD, OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, we humbly ask You to heal our land. Soften our hearts, O Lord, so we can hear Your voice as well as those who need our help. Father God, we also pray that we’ll recognize the difference between one set of words that means one thing and a similar set that means the opposite. The evil one will try to deceive us into thinking there’s no difference when there is. Lord, help us to understand how we can be of service to You and our fellow man. We humbly pray in the mighty name of Jesus. AMEN