The Civil Rights Movement and Our Children

by | Jun 30, 2022

In June, I was in Birmingham, Alabama for the PCA General Assembly. One of the highlights of my trip was a visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, an educational center designed to walk us through the development of civil rights in America through the history of Birmingham. I ventured back into the past as I looked at pictures of the grieved faces of black men, women, and children being abused by white officers and government officials. I was flooded with intense feelings of anger, dismay, and deep grief all at once. How could the authorities be so blind? I saw signs prohibiting black and white children from playing together. These signs reminded me of the shame and indignity my grandparents faced on a daily basis in a mostly white community in rural Kentucky. How were they so strong in the face of such hardship? As I walked through this museum with my white wife, white pastor and his wife, and white associate pastor with his Thai wife, I realized that we have come so far in this country. Have we gone far enough, though?

A black man can now legally get down on bended knee and ask a white woman to spend her life with him. A black woman in 100-degree heat can sit at the front of the bus as she rides home from an exhausting work day. A black man can fight for justice in this nation without being lynched. In all of this, I was able to celebrate the life God gave me—a life that has been greatly influenced by the lives of men like Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, Ralph Abernathy, and countless others. While I don’t know and can’t endorse all of their theology, there is a clear Christian influence in their teaching and writing.

America still has some significant issues to work through with regard to racial strife. I am still grieved when I see unarmed black people gunned down or suffocated by police officers. I am still grieved by the racial strife, animosity, and division in our society. It still hurts my soul to know some of our real struggles are written off as CRT, “wokeness,” or cultural marxism. We have come a mighty long way, but we have so far to go. But as I ponder civil rights today, I can’t help but notice that many of the modern civil rights advocates and their perspectives challenge the leaders of a previous generation that we often laud.

The response to Roe v. Wade being overturned is an alarming example. Many of my friends, both professing Christians and those who reject the Christian faith, are appalled that women are being denied “reproductive freedom.” I have been told that we aren’t a theocracy and that separation of church and state means Christians should have no say in political decisions. Yet, the very heroes we celebrate quoted the Word of God in making their arguments for the dignity of the little black boys and girls, like my parents, who would one day grow up in a very different America than their parents and grandparents.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his famous I Have a Dream speech, “We will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’” He alludes to Amos 5:24, a passage in which God rejects religious feasting, celebrating, and singing while overlooking justice and committing idolatry. In fact, one of the reverberating accusations from the biblical prophets is that God’s people chose religious activity instead of justice. Jesus said that the two greatest commands are love for God and love for neighbor (Mark 12:30–31).

Here’s another example from Dr. King: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Where did he get this creed? Our Declaration of Independence, which read, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I am not sure whether the framers of the Declaration of Independence were referring to the God of the Bible or not. But for Dr. King, the idea of human rights and equality is rooted in the notion that all people are created by God and in his image. By being God’s image-bearers, our lives have inherent dignity not granted to us by any person or government entity. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and we are made to see the works of God and glorify Him for those good works (Psalm 139:13–14).

What does all of this have to do with our children today? I’m not going to sugarcoat my language here. Our children are being lynched in the womb through elective abortion, and it is celebrated by many people in America today. If we are disgusted by the murder of an unarmed black man on our smartphone screens, we ought to be equally horrified if that same black man was forcefully ripped from his mother’s womb 38 years before he had a chance to live. It is illegal to murder a black woman, and our culture doesn’t deem that a religious or political stance. Why then should we legally remove hundreds of thousands of little black boys and little black girls from their mother’s womb? This is not only a black problem, either. We aren’t arguing for a theocracy when we say that black people have a right to live. So why, then, does it become a question of so-called theocracy when we want to protect unborn children of all races?

Every human being is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Injustice to those in the womb will threaten justice to those outside the womb. When we use terminology to dehumanize people—whether we call them the N-word or “fetus”—we devalue their lives and strip them of their rights. I am for women. I love my mother. I cherish my wife. I adore my daughters. I prize my little nieces. If the women in my life were aborted, I wouldn’t be able to love these women or even care for their human rights. By the grace of God, they have the right to live and breathe and see the glory of God.

I am pro-life from the womb to the tomb. Not only do I believe that we ought not murder our children in the womb. I also believe that we should offer help to mothers who didn’t want to get pregnant but are carrying a human being. I believe we should care for orphaned children because that is what true religion is all about (James 1:27). We have giving, fostering, adopting, and supporting to do in order to help the women and children who desperately need it. I am praying that God raises up people within and outside of the local church to step up to the task in America and across the globe.

“This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.


Prayer Requests

  1. Pray that our nation would lament over the culture of death that comes with the practice of abortion.
  2. Pray that women who have unplanned or unwanted pregnancies would gain access to resources and healthcare to help them as they carry their precious child.
  3. Pray that the love of Christ would be on full display among the people of God as we rejoice in this monumental Supreme Court ruling.

 

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Author

  • Chrys Jones

    Chrys Jones lives in central Kentucky with his wife, Kim, and their four daughters. Chrys is preparing to plant a church through Bardstown Christian Fellowship and is serving as pastoral resident at Grace Church in Danville, KY. He is a staff writer at Gospel-Centered Discipleship as well as producer and recording artist for Christcentric Records. You can follow Chrys on Twitter or check out his blog.

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