The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines WOKE as follows.
Woke is now defined in this dictionary as “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice),” and identified as U.S. slang. It originated in African American English and gained more widespread use beginning in 2014 as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. By the end of that same decade it was also being applied by some as a general pejorative for anyone who is or appears to be politically left-leaning.https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/woke-meaning-origin
At face value, being woke is a noble enterprise. What could possibly be wrong with awareness and action relative to issues of racial and social justice? Nothing. But like anything in life, a noble cause in the hands of ignoble agents is doomed to go wrong. This IS NOT to say that “the woke mob” has gone of the rails because in today’s culture of contempt you can be labeled as woke mob simply because you are not part of another tribe. Being a liberal equates to being woke if you are part of the conservative tribe.
In my opinion, the usage of the term woke has in fact “gone off the rails” as everyone and their dog has adopted it to fit their agenda. We could argue night and day whether this group or that group is truly woke, but that will be a complete waste of time. Just stick with the dictionary explanation of the word and get down off your high horse. Perhaps everyone should do that and stop waggling their fingers at one another as if being or not being woke is the most important problem to solve in our time. It isn’t. Good grief human beings can be stupid.
CAN CHRISTIANS BE WOKE?
Yes. Technically, this is a stupid question because one’s salvation under Christian theology has nothing to do with a social or political ideology. The Gospel is really simple and it’s all about Jesus, His death, burial, and resurrection. This is not political at all. It’s just Christian theology/doctrine.
[1Co 15:1-4 NET] 1 Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. 3 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received – that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures,https://www.blueletterbible.org/net/1co/15/1/s_1077001
DOES THE BIBLE HAVE WOKE COMMANDS?
[Isaiah 1:17 NET] 17 Learn to do what is right! Promote justice! Give the oppressed reason to celebrate! Take up the cause of the orphan! Defend the rights of the widow!https://www.blueletterbible.org/net/isa/1/17/s_680017
Promote justice is kinda straightforward. The context of the justice that biblical believers are supposed to follow is social. Be the agent that the oppressed celebrate. Yeah … that’s got woke written all over it. Consider the following verse and you have racial justice written all over the OT’s commands.
[Leviticus 19:33-34 NET] 33 When a foreigner resides with you in your land, you must not oppress him. 34 The foreigner who resides with you must be to you like a native citizen among you; so you must love him as yourself, because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.https://www.blueletterbible.org/net/lev/19/33/s_109033
Consider which ideologies are opposed to this way of thinking and acting. Right wing conservatives want to build walls and arrest the foreigner rather than treat them like a fellow citizen. Perhaps this verse is about something other than illegal immigration, but it is undeniably about not being a racist. In fact, it is anti-racist. Just saying.
[Isaiah 58:10 NET] 10 You must actively help the hungry and feed the oppressed. Then your light will dispel the darkness, and your darkness will be transformed into noonday.https://www.blueletterbible.org/net/isa/58/10/s_737010
Racial and social injustice involve oppression, and are generally accompanied by poverty, which involves hunger. Isaiah was an Old Testament (OT) prophet speaking on behalf of Yahweh to OT Jews. Changing darkness to light will certainly cause the oppressed to celebrate as described in Isaiah chapter one.
[Malachi 3:5 NET] 5 “I will come to you in judgment. I will be quick to testify against those who practice divination, those who commit adultery, those who break promises, and those who exploit workers, widows, and orphans, who refuse to help the immigrant and in this way show they do not fear me,” says the LORD who rules over all.https://www.blueletterbible.org/net/mal/3/1/s_928001
Though I have drawn attention to the plight of the immigrant, please take note of the company that “those who refuse to help the immigrant” keep. Witches, adulterers, liars, sweat shop owners, etc. The OT demands that witchcraft and adultery be punished by death, and lists lying as an abomination to God Himself. Among other things, any failure to help the immigrant is a failure to honor God. It is disobedience to God and His statutes.
CONCERNING THE ANTI-WOKE CROWD
It is entirely unsurprising that wokeness versus anti-wokeness persists in the never ending war between right and left political ideologies. The so-called socialist liberals and the facist conservatives, etc. Neither label is true, but they are effective dog whistles that stir up the troops to keep marching in the culture (of contempt) war. My God, it is tragic, and stupid.
What about the Christians? This is a mixed bag, but if you are talking about white evangelicals then you are (in general) talking about conservative Republican right wingers. What’s going on here? In the interest of brevity, I’ll refer to other blogs that I’ve written addressing these issues.
If I were to list all of the pastors that get worked into a lather over the woke movement, I’d have to increase my level of service with WordPress so I don’t break their servers. It is astonishing how many people spend so much time trying to connect wokeness with Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, Black Lives Matter, etc. Meanwhile, the commands of Christ are ignored in that magnificent distraction.
Is is true that CRT and BLM proponents use the term woke? Yes.
Does that mean their movement is woke? Maybe. Maybe not.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter because some of what those allegedly evil activists are demanding is also commanded by God, as shown above. Some of it is not, and some of it is likely to be dead wrong — for example, white people are born racist with a terminal case of racism. That’s not woke, it’s just bat shit crazy. Sorry to ruffle your feathers with a “bad” word, but sometimes that’s the best way to describe something that is off the rails bad.
At minimum though, Christians should give pause to the controversy and focus on what Scripture actually tells you do rather than what some politically motivated pastor tells you to do. Isn’t is obvious that those CANNOT be the same thing? What hasn’t been tried yet is building a bridge between the things that both sides do (or should) agree on and then moving on from there. You might recall that Jesus got cozy with sinners rather than waggling His holy finger at them from a distance just prior to striking them dead with lighting from the sky. Be like Jesus.
According to the dictionary, I am woke. The Scriptures that I affirmed herein command me to be woke. On a personal level, I want to be woke because I have NO desire to oppress anyone. I want real justice for everyone. Period. However, given how variable the meaning of woke is, I’m likely to enter the debate with some trust issues until we come to an agreement about what it means.
Bottom line: the Bible has some woke stuff in it. Some will argue that it also has some non-woke stuff in it, and I would agree that there are some truly rough spots to iron out. Beside the point.
[Micah 6:8 NET] 8 He has told you, O man, what is good, and what the LORD really wants from you: He wants you to promote justice, to be faithful, and to live obediently before your God.https://www.blueletterbible.org/net/mic/6/1/s_899001
This passage from Micah is one way to obey the entire OT Law. It makes obeying the two greatest commandments inevitable, but not like Thanos. Justice is more than how efficiently crime is settled by incarceration, it is about people being liberated from oppression and despair. You can’t practice biblical justice without mercy and humility. Weaponizing the term woke and waging war against everything you don’t like is anti-Gospel and fails to execute the Great Commission. Christians were not put here to build a nation in this world, but rather a Kingdom not of it.
Anti-woke Christians … get over yourselves, and get to the Kingdom work!