Faith Matters: All lives matter
You would have to have your head in the sand not to know the context in which this statement has been spoken these days. And you would have to be similarly out of the loop to be unaware that – as a rebuttal to a similar saying – it has been a point of contention.
From a Christian point of view, though, the expression itself is pretty easy to defend. We need look no further than John 3:17 to find that “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (NRSV). It does not say that God offers salvation to a particular nationality, ethnicity, personality, or any other type of “-ity.” Salvation is offered to the entire world.
Again, Galatians 3:28 tells us “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (NIV).
…So, yes, all lives do matter, especially to God.
But the scriptures also contain instances in which God shows special concern for specific groups of people. For example, God promised to bless Abraham’s descendants into a great nation through which “all peoples on earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). So, “all lives matter” to God, but God gives special blessing to some in order to bless others.
When “God’s people” found themselves slaves in Egypt, God made a special effort to release them, which we can read about in both Exodus and Deuteronomy. So, “all lives matter” to God, but God has a special concern for the oppressed.
Throughout the Bible there are examples of God showing special concern for those in difficult situations. For example, the law that God gave Israel often had special provisions for how to treat the poor and disadvantaged (Leviticus 19:9-10). Jesus himself even equates our treatment of the unfortunate with our treatment of him (Matthew 25:31-45). “All lives matter to God,” but God has a special concern for the suffering.
In fact, one could argue that it is God’s concern for suffering people that truly causes all lives to matter to God in the first place. So if we are truly committed to the idea, we cannot ignore those who are suffering, marginalized, or oppressed. Giving them special concern isn’t a repudiation of inclusion, it’s a necessary step towards achieving it, and one that is modeled by no less an authority than Jesus himself.
So, is it particularly Christian to say “All lives matter”? Absolutely.
As long as we mean it.
Rev. Jeff LeCrone, interim pastor, St Luke Lutheran Church