Gospel Unity or Black Lives Matter

As a pastor, I am for unity.  It is part and parcel of the fabric of what it means to be a Christian.  I am united to Christ by virtue of the Spirit of unity indwelling me.  The Apostle Paul clearly enjoins every believer to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bound of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:3-6).  What is more, Christ forged this unity in Himself.  It is through Him that believers are one, that we have access in one Spirit to the Father and are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.[1]  Therefore, I cannot support an organization or movement that goes against these things.

In the wake of recent events I decided, like many others, to read about Black Lives Matter.  So, I went to the source.  I went to their about page and read under the tab “What we Believe.”[2] There I found that they too want to “intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.” What is more, they “love and desire freedom and justice” and they “work vigorously” to that end. These are admirable and even Biblical themes. For example, Jeremiah 9:24 says, “I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth.”

However, it is disheartening then to read other things on the same page.  For example, the group desires “to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk.”  They also want to “foster a queer‐affirming network.”  As a Christian, I cannot call something good that God has identified as evil.[3]  This is true of the LGBTQ community. God has clearly spoken against homosexuality and other like sins.[4]  The group goes on to state its antipathy for and desire to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.” The Old and New Testaments clearly teach that people are to honor their father and mother.[5] How can believers align themselves with a group with these values?  A believer cannot and must not.

I will be accused of speaking out of a privileged position.  However, any believer knows that I am not speaking from cultural authority.  I am taking my stand on God’s Word, the Bible.  That is the only place to stand.  It is when we take our stand on the Bible that blacks, whites, and every race of the world can be part of the same family in Christ.  It is in Christ and by His Spirit that the barriers have been brought down.  If Black Lives Matter then why are blacks killing blacks and looting black owned stores?  For some, it is anger.  There are real injustices in the world and examples are not hard to find.  Sin is real. It obscures the best judgment. There is no denying it.  Sin affects our relationships with one another. For others, it is hate.  But no matter the reason violence against one another is always wrong. In Christ, and only in Christ, are all relationships healed. We must go to the One who is the fount of all blessing and find our healing in Him. We must firmly and decisively take our stand upon His Word. 

Therefore, I am calling black and white ministers to reach out to one another in their respective communities and purpose to stand on the gospel.  It is so easy for us to try to get the other person to see from our perspective. For example, some may think that the best way to view the Grand Canyon is by drone.  Others think that a virtual trip through the canyon is best.  And still others want to view it from the visitor’s platform.  Instead, I am urging us to see one another from God's perspective.  That is only possible when we open His Word together and understand that it is only in the gospel of Jesus Christ that we are one harmonious family. It is that family which can lead our world to a better place.

Jeffrey A Stivason (Ph.D. Westminster Theological Seminary) is pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gibsonia, PA.  He is Professor-elect of New Testament Studies at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA. Jeff is also an online instructor for Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA. He is the author of From Inscrutability to Concursus (P&R), he has contributed to The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia (Eerdmans) and has published academic articles and book reviews in various journals. Jeff is the Senior Editor of Place for Truth (placefortruth.org) an online magazine for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.

[1] See Ephesians 2.

[3] Romans 1:32.

[4] Romans 1:18-32; I Corinthians 6:9-10, I Timothy 1:9-10.

[5] Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-2.


Jeffrey Stivason