Browsing The Northern Cross

Editorial: A Christian response to ‘black lives matter’

In the pro-life community, we use the phrase “love them both.” It’s our response to the accusation that loving and protecting unborn babies somehow means enmity toward their abortion-minded mothers. We respond: “No, we love them both.” The pro-life community puts those words into action, working to support mothers and help them to choose life with service and other means of support.

“Love them both” is also the right Christian response to the civil unrest we are encountering under the banner of “black lives matter.” Many black people in our communities are outraged at what they see as biased treatment at the hands of the justice system, most dramatically in the application of deadly force by police officers. We have all seen the heartbreaking videos and the bodies in the streets.

The response is often to point out the challenges of police work. Law enforcement officers are sometimes required to make life-and-death decisions in murky situations all in the blink of an eye, and all while knowing their own lives and those of other cops and innocent people may be at risk. Imagine going to work every day knowing that when you said goodbye to your family it may have been the last time. There are bodies in blue in the streets too.

If we are clear-eyed, we can see that there is no contradiction in taking both of these things seriously. We can listen with openness and respect to the experiences of our black brothers and sisters and be slow to dismiss them just because they may happen to be outside our experience. We can recognize that racism is real and a grave evil, and that even in its subtler forms where it may not be deliberate at all, it can cause terrible harm. We can seek out reforms that would help better realize the goal justice demands of equality under the law.

We can do that while recognizing how hard it is to be a cop and how profoundly grateful we are for the work they do and the sacrifices they make and their families make in service to the common good — to all of us. We can listen respectfully to their stories and experiences, which are also often unheard. We can recognize the courage it takes to run toward, rather than away from, gunfire. We can be slow to judge situations and wait for all the facts.

In this way be peacemakers who seek reconciliation rather than conflict. We can love them both.