“All lives matter,” my neighbor said to me as he walked up my drive and nodded toward the Black Lives Matter sign in my front yard. “You should get rid of that.”
“All lives do matter,” I agreed, “but if I said to my husband, ‘I don’t think I matter to you,’ and he replied, ‘Honey, all wives matter,’ I don’t think that would be helpful. It wouldn’t address my hurt. In fact, his comment would intensify my hurt.”
When those of us outside the Black community—and those of us in the Christian community—say “all lives matter” in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, we deny the legitimate hurts of the Black community. As German Lopez says in Vox, “The point of Black Lives Matter isn’t to suggest that Black lives should be or are more important than all other lives. Instead, it’s simply pointing out that Black people’s lives are relatively undervalued in the U.S.—and more likely to be ended by police—and that the country needs to recognize that inequity to bring an end to it.”
But after my neighbor left, I continued to think about the phrase “all lives matter.” In a sense, I had embraced All Lives Matter as a movement many years ago.
For most of my adult life, I was pro-life—or, as I now define it: pro-birth. I always voted for the pro-life candidate, no matter who, no matter what. But over the years, I became universally pro-life. In other words, I became pro-life on every issue because all lives matter. So today, keeping all human life in mind, I ask, “What does this candidate believe about the environment?” “How will this candidate vote regarding health care?” “What will this candidate do for those who are marginalized in our society?”
After all, if we say “all lives matter,” then all lives must matter—not just the lives of the unborn. Thousands die from lack of clean drinking water, from hunger, poor nutrition, violence, poverty, and inadequate health care in the U.S. and around the world. As Christians, our pro-life stance cannot extend only to the unborn if we say and believe all lives matter.
I left my church in 2008 after discovering that Christians in my church cared more about the unborn than people who disagreed with them on various issues, including people like me. I felt ostracized because of my differing opinions, and my fellow church members called me a “murderer,” a “baby-killer,” and a “non-Christian.”
I learned the hard way: all lives matter, except if we disagree.
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Don’t miss this week’s must-read articles:
- Tell A Better Story
- ‘Rebirth’ for a Wisconsin Church
- Book review: A Church Called Tov, by Laura Barringer and Scot McKnight