Are You Woke?

Monday, August 9, 2021

Written by Alan Vink

Categories: Gospel and Culture

Comments: 2


Good Morning and Welcome to this week’s Gospel and Culture update, by Alan Vink
Are You Woke?

Monday 9th August 2021

The purpose of this weekly ‘Gospel and Culture’ blog is to assist pastors and Christian leaders to quickly understand ‘key’ issues of the day and how they might intersect with the Gospel, Church and with Christianity generally. It is essentially a ‘curated’ blog that raises between one and three current issues and directs you the reader to a reliable article, podcast and/or a website for further reading. It is my contribution to help us ‘think Christianly’ and to develop a Christian world-view. Jesus prayed for us in John 17, “I’m not asking you, Father, to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one………make them holy by your truth”.

Are you Woke?

POV. Strictly speaking if you are reading this blog then you are awake and therefore ‘woke’ in that, you woke up this morning. However, woke has developed its own meaning in contemporary culture. To be woke has become a ‘slang’ word (idea) meaning, to be awake and alert to social issues around you especially racial issues.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says this:- “It can be hard to trace slang back to its origins since slang’s origins are usually spoken, and it can be particularly difficult to trace a slang word that has its origins in a dialect. Woke’s transformation into a byword of social awareness likely started in 2008, with the release of Erykah Badu’s song “Master Teacher”:

Even if yo baby ain't got no money
To support ya baby, you
(I stay woke)
Even when the preacher tell you some lies
And cheatin on ya mama, you stay woke
(I stay woke)
Even though you go through struggle and strife
To keep a healthy life, I stay woke
(I stay woke)
Everybody knows a black or a white there's creatures in every shape and size
(I stay woke)

It seems to me that being woke was originally associated with black Americans fighting racism back in the 1940’s but has been appropriated by other activist groups – taking it from awareness and blackness to a colourless and timeless phenomenon since. The Oxford dictionary expanded its definition of the word “woke” in 2017 to add it as an adjective meaning “alert to injustice in society, especially racism”.

As Christians then, we are ‘woke’ in that we are alert to and against any form of racism, sexism and ageism wherever and whenever it is present. That’s in our DNA. So far, so good.

That said I think I share with many of you a concern about the ‘social movement’ of being woke. I worry about it’s tone. It feels angry to me and increasingly judgemental. It seems to single out only white men as sexist and only white people as racist. We all know that is neither true nor fair. Racism is found between people of colour toward each other and sexism is found amongst women towards men. I think J.John has summed it up well when he says, “ultimately, then, I feel that wokeness needs to be greeted by wariness. Although it has much that is good in it I cannot help but sense that at its heart lies an aching void. The concept of ‘being woke’ is an attempt to create moral boundaries but without God. It offers only a bleak and hopeless world in which a stern and constantly shifting morality subjects all to a judgement from which there can be no redemption or restoration. Far more preferable is the Christian message which, while it points out our deepest moral failings, offers us through Christ both pardon and a changed life. Ultimately, wokeness needs both real grace and true forgiveness, and only God can give us that”.

Alan Vink is currently the Executive Director for LeadershipWorx. Prior to this role he has been the Executive Director of Willow Creek Association NZ (WillowNZ), a Baptist pastor (23 years), Bible College teacher, and church consultant.

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  1. Karla Karla |landscaping companies
    Some teenagers now a days tend to identify themselves as "woke." Woke in terms that they do not want their parent's guidance anymore, they rebel against their family and authority thinking they already knew what they are doing thus leading them to serious troubles because they felt they are "woke." Thursday, September 9, 2021
  2. Jaya Jaya No one truly understands what woke means unless he encounters the Wednesday, August 24, 2022