Recently a conservative who was speaking against woke-ism was asked to define it. He hemmed and hawed when trying to define it, but I did not blame him. It is complex and not easy to define. Woke-ism is a combination of beliefs, faith confessions, and a set of narratives that do not cohere or imply with each other. Yet, this set of beliefs or confessions are usually embraced by the radical woke-ism folks that are described as radical leftists.
Sometimes when a person awakens to what they think is truth, there is a sense almost of revelation, such as when the hero in the movie Matrix takes a little pill and comes to see he lived in an illusion. The person who thinks he discovered radical freedom so he or she can be whatever they choose (as in the view of philosopher Jean Paul Sartre) can experience a sense of exhilaration and release. The former believer may come to unbelief as a sad conclusion which may cause despair, but it might also be experienced as exhilarating and a release. One can then define one’s own life and values without any reference to an intrusive god. A radical behaviorist who thinks there is no free will experiences exhilaration in not having the weight of free choice. Yet when a person comes to God and is born again, it is also something that can be received with exhilaration and release. It is interesting that the Biblical text says, “Wake up you sleepers.” So, the truly woke biblically are those who are converted by the Gospel. The beliefs that many in the left are supposedly woke are often incoherent and the opposite of a biblical world view. Let’s list out some of these beliefs and the contrast.
- The first is the belief that there is no objective truth. Truth is relative, so people can speak of “my truth.” The phrase “my truth” is a redefinition of the word truth itself. Truth historically referred to views, assertions or propositions that conformed to the way things really were. “My truth’’ means the way one is committed to live their life and see things. There is no objective evidence of whether such a way is true or not. While it seems that at least science is still accepted as bringing objective truth, even science has been affected. Yet the person who is in the “my truth” orientation will hold to commitments, narratives, and views with dogmatic tenacity, giving no quarter to other viewpoints. The dogmatism is amazing. You would think relativism would produce tepid commitments but the narratives of the so-called work somehow produce fervor. I attribute this to the fact that many people need a religious level of fervor to feel that life is worth living. A biblical world view states that God created an objective world. We can discover how it works. Also, there is biblical revelation that defines who we are and how to live, an objective basis. This is sometimes confirmed by natural wisdom, but often natural wisdom is too weak to stand against the onslaught of relativistic assertions in social issues.
- A second big assertion of the so-called woke is that human sexual roles are social constructs. Therefore, biological sex does not define gender. This is a huge tenet of the LGBTQ movement. However, LGBT really defines only five genders. One can be classically male or female (cis-gender) or lesbian, gay, bisexual or transexual. How do we come to transexual? It is not that a biological male or female is attracted to the same sex. That would be lesbian or gay. However, one can see an easy flip where if one who is a biological female is not attracted to a male but a female than she could declare that she is really a male in female bodies since she is so attracted. The same could be said for biological males. One homosexual stated that transsexuality is homophobic because the person in rejecting same sex attraction identifies as the opposite sex. The fact that we also list bisexuality, attraction to both sexes, shows that things can get dicey. At one count there were over 50 genders that could be chosen for self-definition. Some claim alters (multiple personalities) of all different kinds. Of course, there is the fact that transexuals identify with the stereotypes of the opposite sex. Rather than being a sensitive, artistic, and non-athletic oriented male, they must be a female. Then the opposite is also so. The confusion is amazing. With the fifty genders we come to a reduction to absurdity (reductio ad absurdum). Believing that sex is only a construct, and that we can self-define as any of many genders can seem liberating and exhilarating, as if being woke. These nostrums lead to pornography in school libraries, drag queen shows for children, and more so that the society proves that it is inclusive. Children are sexualized as part of gender liberation. It also leads to hormone therapy and surgery even for minors. This produces an orientation whereby the schools seek to hide their teaching from parents so they might further the woke agenda. Even doctors have bought into the new genderism despite the great reservations of doctors in Finland and Sweden. The Biblical world view tells us that there are two sexes. Yes, there are social constructs that influence how sexual roles are lived out, but the basic framework is that God created us male and female, and that sexual intimacy is to be limited to a heterosexual lasting marriage. Supernatural healing can resolve gender dysphoria or homosexuality. See the amazing writings of Leanne Payne on this! When one is delivered from the complex maze of today’s gender ideology, repents of sin, and embraces the biblical framework, it can also be liberating and can free us from forever having doubt. We know who we are as male and female in His image. We also discover that almost all world cultures seek to foster the distinction of male and female, but we can also understand flexibility in the way this is lived out. The Gospel calls us to repent and really be changed by the power of the Spirit.
- A third big assertion comes from critical race theory. In general CRT asserts that the white race is especially sinful. This is a world-wide evaluation of whites. This sin of white privilege and domination is pervasive in the culture and produces systemic discrimination that is not always overt. It is why there are disparities in wealth and position in society. The world is made up of oppressors and victims. This bipolarity is neo-Marxism. The wealthy class and the workers, the whites and the blacks, the Jews in Israel and the Palestinians, and so on and so forth. The history of the United States is thereby redefined as an evil oppressive society. Slavery was not just one dark blot on U. S. history but is the defining meaning of the country and the founders were not good in any sense. The way through is an everlasting groveling by whites (even white children in schools) and quotas and set asides so that equality is achieved. It leads to absurdities in claiming that achievement is racist and even math is racist. It redefines racism (they view that white races and ethnic groups are inferior) so that the oppressed can never be racist no matter what their prejudice against the defined oppressing group. It vilifies the founding fathers of the United States as evil and nothing they did was good since the country accepted racism when it was formed. This is a very skewed reading of history. Once again, this is contrary to a biblical world view. All act sinfully. We do not act with justice and fairness but favor our own kind. When we come to Yeshua, we repent and embrace people of all races and colors. Genuine reconciliation then can pervade a culture and produce a just meritocracy. It can also seek to redress real systemic poverty and see all people lifted. Of course, Chinese and other immigrants from India show how much this theory is wrong since in the United States anyone can excel and they do. They are not white! Reconciliation through Yeshua is the key, and all must repent of sin, selfishness, hatred and prejudice. We also assert that a stable family is the key to liberation and overcoming. This view is hated by the CRT folks. Just a little note on education. The leftist woke want to control education and marginalize parents who stand in the way of conveying the woke ideas and narratives. This is why you see such battles in schools today.
- Woke economic theory tends to a Marxist redistribution since attaining wealth is not fair in their view. Yet the incoherence here is amazing since the wealthy corporate leaders who back the woke really are not wanting to give up their wealth. So, there are re-distribution schemes that look socialist but keep an elite in power that is more like fascism. Economic justice is defined by equality in wealth. In a biblical world view an economic system should provide the greatest opportunity for the most. Equal opportunity is not a biblical norm since all have various advantages and disadvantages due to family wealth, gifts, talents and more. So equal opportunity is a myth. However a just system is one where there is real and good opportunity for the greatest number. Justice in the Bible is not leveling equality. Such a just system provides the greatest potential to lift the greatest number of people. This is best done in a true free enterprise system with fair rules and a rejection of crony capitalism where the government and the wealthy corporate leaders control all for their mutual benefit.
- Those who support abortion rights may be part of the woke. It is easy to see this as embraced by the woke. The child in the womb is dismissed as having no value and abortion is defined as health care for the woman. What a strange re-definition of health care. It is certainly not health care for the baby, and abortion does not add health to the woman. In the Bible the baby in the womb is a creation of God, in his image to be valued and protected.
So how do we define “woke-ism?” Woke-ism is a set of beliefs and narratives that are not necessarily connected that are destructive to society. They have been embraced by the promotion of ideas that have impacted the emotions and minds of people but are not based on solid evidence or epistemology (how knowledge is obtained). Woke-ism includes the ideas of gender ideology and fluidity, critical race theory promotion, a binary analysis of groups as oppressors and the oppressed, radical abortion rights, and semi-Marxist economic redistribution commitments.