Why do Black Lives & LGBTQ+ Lives Matter?

Why do black lives and LGBTQ+ lives matter? This is an important question because some people have views that don’t support the idea of lives mattering. For example, Charles Darwin, the most famous proponent of evolution titled his book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle of Life.  And in his book, The Decent of Man, he says,

“The Western nations of Europe… now so immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors [that they] stand at the summit of civilization…. The civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races through the world.”

Does a strict Darwinian view of the world lead to all lives mattering? It does not appear so. That’s why this question is important. Why do black lives and LGTBQ+ lives matter?

If we cut off our objective moral legs, we have no way to stand. If we say morality doesn’t matter, then it doesn’t matter. We can’t pick and choose. We can’t both say people are the way they are and have the desires they have and it’s fine and say it’s not okay for people to be certain ways and do certain things. That’s the crucial thing we need to consider.

Black lives matter. LGBTQ+ lives matter. White lives matter. Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But why?

That is a super important question and one that sadly isn’t receiving a lot of sustained thought. Why do black lives matter? Why do lives matter at all? Where do we get this concept? Is it true? 

Jesus said, black lives matter.[1] Jesus said, LGBTQ+ lives matter. Jesus said, all lives matter.

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-38).

But does Jesus matter? And if He doesn’t on what basis then are we saying all these lives matter? This may seem like a stupid question. We just know all types of lives matter, right? But do we?

The common view that many have is Darwinian evolution, that we came from nothing and we are going to nothing; from purposelessness to purposelessness. Where is meaning, morality, and lives mattering to be found?[2] Is there a basis for human rights?

Also, did the Roman culture, in whose hands Jesus was murdered say, all lives matter?[3] Did Joseph Stalin say all lives matter? Did Friedrich Nietzsche? Did Adolf Hitler? Did Mao Zedong? Is it even possible to say all lives matter or any lives matter when the highest maximum is have it your way and do what’s right for you? Could it be that “just as long as no one gets hurt” has been trampled upon and obliterated by “you can do whatever you want”? Objective NormsIf God is dead, and we killed him, as Nietzsche said, what follows? Perhaps Nietzsche was right, perhaps that makes all things permissible? Each person doing what is right in their own eyes, whatever that might be. Who is anyone, who or what is God, to restrain? …We are who we are and we want what we want and that’s nobodies business, right?

How or where, then, do we get the concept of lives, any lives, ultimately mattering? The concept of lives mattering would be merely imaginary (a social construct). Perhaps good for America right now but not for all people at all times and places.

We can’t deconstruct everything and still have a basis which to say lives matter or to say that we must love others. We can’t both say we can do whatever we want and you can’t do certain things (like be racist or homophobic). 

It does not make sense to say, the truth is there is no objective morality; and the truth is, LGBTQ+ lives matter. That is equivalent to saying:

 There is no A
 There is A

That approach is nonsensical. It goes against the law of noncontradiction.

As Martin Luther King Jr. exhorted us to remember in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” “everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal.” If there is no real right and wrong, if the highest moral code is merely subjective to the whim of individuals, then we cannot say Hitler or any of his henchmen were wrong. What they did was legal and acceptable in their time and place after all. 

So, my exhortation is this from Timothy Snyder’s book, On Tyranny:

Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis on which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle.

Truth cuts both ways but if there is no truth then there is no cutting, no correcting. 

So, do black lives matter, do LGBTQ+ lives matter? Or is that just a fad for now (a social construct) that won’t be true at other times and at other places? If lives matter, how? On what grounds? Who has the authority to say so? Or do we just know? But how? What else do we just know? And how do we know it?

When do we get to the point as a culture when we openly say, lives don’t matter? Not white lives, not black lives, not LGBTQ+ lives. Lives don’t matter because life, full of sound and fury, has no meaning. It is a roar and a whisper and silence, then it’s gone. Eternal entropy. Null and void.

That, at least is the case, if Carol Sagan’s famous words are true: ““The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.”

If there is something beyond, better, and before the Cosmos—a Creator and Sustainer of it all—then there is the possibility of actual meaning and morality. 

I myself believe black lives matter, LGBTQ+ lives matter, white lives matter, and even racist lives matter, because I believe in God and Jesus the Messiah whom He sent. 

I further believe this is vital, because we can’t resign Jesus’ ethical system to the waste bin and not think that those deemed unimportant or unfit won’t have their lives tossed there too. 

If Jesus does matter, are we living as though He matters? This question is absolutely vital to what’s going on. It’s not a copout. 

If we leave out the revealed God and Jesus the crucified and risen Savior, it’s a steep and quick slide to Roman morality. Yes, there was “sexual freedom,” at least for some, but there were all sorts of slaves too.

What if our new freedom is a free fall? How far might we descend?

_____

[1] Of course, He didn’t say so in so many words. But He did communicate that truth by both what He said and did. See “Black Lives Matter in the Bible” by Jarvis Williams. 

[2] Dawkins has said, programmed into our brains are “altruistic urges, alongside sexual urges, hunger urges, xenophobic urges and so on…. We can no more help ourselves feeling pity when we see a weeping unfortunate (who is unrelated and unable to reciprocate) than we can help ourselves feeling lust for a member of the opposite sex (who may be infertile or otherwise unable to reproduce). Both are misfirings, Darwinian mistakes: blessed, precious mistakes” (Richard Dawkins, the God Delusion, 252-53). Thus, for Dawkins, kindness is just a mistake. This is because Darwin argued that humans that developed certain traits, like kindness, tend to survive longer because they team up with others. Darwin says, “When two tribes of primeval man, living in the same country, came into competition, if the one tribe included a greater number of courageous, sympathetic, and faithful members, who were always ready to warn each other of danger, to aid and defend each other, this tribe would without doubt succeed best and conquer the other” (Charles Darwin, The Decent of Man, 130). So, in On The Origin of Species, Darwin says, “Natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good; silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being” (Charles Darwin, On The Origin of Species, 133).

In contrast to Dawkins, I appreciate William Provine’s honesty. He said in a debate at Stanford University with Phil Johnson that “there is no ultimate foundation for ethics.” It was Provine’s view that no life after death exists, no ultimate foundation for ethics exists, and there is no ultimate meaning to life. Jean-Paul Sartre, and really all the existentialists I’ve read, are logically consistent. Sartre says, “The existentialists… thinks it very distressing that God does not exist, because all possibility of finding values in a heaven of ideas disappears along with Him; there can no longer be an a priori Good, since there is not infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. Nowhere is it written that the Good exists, what we must be honest, that we must not lie; because the fact is we are on a plane where there are only men” (Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions, 22).

[3] Tom Holland said, “The longer I spent immersed in the study of classical antiquity, the more alien and unsettling I came to find it… It was not just the extremes of callousness that I came to find shocking, but the lack of a sense that the poor or the weak might have intrinsic value” (“Tom Holland: Why I was wrong about Christianity“). 

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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