Previously we described and defined Critical Theory or “wokeness”. This article is about the impact of Critical Theory when it is accepted and put into practice. We will also consider how people of faith might properly respond.
How is this way of thinking influencing society?
Critical Theory applauds any effort to subvert, deconstruct or to oppose Western culture as a first step toward toward what it defines as social justice. Adherents or insiders call this a “critical” or “woke” approach.
For example, teaching children that gender is a social construct instead of a biological fact is normalized by inviting drag queens into the classroom to read stories. It is further reinforced by encouraging children to choose whatever pronoun they prefer to describe their gender.
Other examples include:
- Renaming the girl guides organization, “Brownies” – as it might offend “people of colour”
- Condemning certain Halloween costumes because they don’t capture the true nature of an “oppressed” culture.
- Or condemning any form of “Cultural Appropriation” – that is – “stealing” fashions or practices from subordinate cultures (as this is considered harmful).
- The recent rule adopted by the academy of the performing arts reflects this. This rule judges movies based upon whether or not it includes a certain number of minorities, racialised and gender non-conforming actors, in order to be considered for an Oscar. Unless every group is equally represented, it is assumed that some form of oppression is taking place.
Justification for these actions is found in the pursuit of “social justice” or “equity.” By equity, critical theorists mean, equality of outcomes, not of opportunity. Equity demands that every social group must be equally represented in every position within society. A huge issue is made of how many men and women, of every skin colour, social strata, race and sexual practice are found in each and every profession, political position, in each and every country.
The whole point of ‘wokeness’ is to subvert and obfuscate anything that appears to support current cultural norms and values.
The obvious question then is: what is the end goal? What will society look like if the “woke” or critical theorists achieve their desired liberation? When the values of ‘Western’ or especially ‘Christian’ culture is replaced, what will this new ‘equitable’ society look like? It will be a society in which people experience no restraint and are able to fulfill all of their desires. We are invited it seems on a trip to the Big Top Candy Mountain.
‘Wokeness’ is a Utopian dream that can only be realized if the sum total of all that exists is a social construct which having been created by people can also be changed by them. If this were so, then it is simply a matter of getting enough people on board to usher in a whole new reality. This kind of thinking is rooted in postmodernism which insists that truth is not discovered but created.
Yet that has never been mankind’s relationship with God’s world. The objective reality of the world around us remains unchanged by our perception of it or our ideas about it. Even social norms have their roots in the person and character of God in whose image we are made. Ideas have consequences and how we live in God’s world makes a difference.
So for example:
- Will people do better or worse if the live responsibly?
- Will they fare better or worse by being punctual?
- Will they experience better outcomes if they are work hard and apply themselves – or if they are lazy and unreliable? Western society values hard work or responsibility because it is the best way to survive and flourish.
Further and more importantly for Christians reading this, Western society learned from the influence of scripture, just which behaviours were beneficial for people to flourish. The “woke” would have us believe that what has been learned must be unlearned and destroyed since it stands in the way of their Utopian dream. They would rob the world of the very principles put in place by God and which have stood the test of time.
“Wokeness” seeks to satisfy every desire while refusing to deal with the consequences.
- The “fat acceptance” movement which began as a protest against ‘fat bias’ has led to a separation between dietary choices and health outcomes. Social stigma is one thing, but personal responsibility is another.
- The sexual revolution and LGBTQ movement encourages us to satisfy every sexual appetite but never dealing with the consequences ranging from broken homes and sexually transmitted diseases to unwanted pregnancies or children (this is why there is such vitriol around the abortion discussion).
- Advocates for socialism say, that humans should be afforded every right to income and lifestyle without having to contribute proportionately to the work that produces them.
Wokeness then, is another human effort to find meaning and satisfaction on its own terms. It’s an effort to reach up to heaven by building a tower of political and social control. If we just all agree to call nothing wrong and nothing evil, then wrong and evil will cease to exist. Those who won’t get on board must be identified and silenced…cancelled and disenfranchised, for they perpetuate the problem. It is evil and oppressive to claim any standard that is not created by humans and which contradicts the viewpoint of ‘critical theory’.
How can Christians respond? What are we to do in a climate where any opposition is viewed as the only real wickedness?
We must remember that Jesus warned us that if we truly follow Him, then we should not expect better treatment than He received. Thus, if we are not cancelled, perhaps there is too much of the world in us.
Do we fear God or Man? We would do well to notice, that the woke don’t have nearly the power they think they do. Recent attempts to get people to stop using Twitter are a case in point.
Christians need to take a stand for the truth in a loving and compassionate way. We do have something in common with those who recognize that there is something wrong with the world. People do in fact need liberation. We simply understand that materialism can’t deliver the freedom that people need.
We are engaged in a war of worldviews. Materialism is a flawed worldview which leads to many offshoots of the same kind. We can start by helping those around us to reexamine their world view in an effort to see its weakness. “Critical theory” is filled with internal contradictions which are easily recognized. Perhaps our best approach is to ask questions which highlight these and then patiently and lovingly share God’s answers.
We must understand that people who are in need are looking for real answers. Answers that address society and world in which we live. When we provide help in these areas, the light of God’s word and the light of godly lives is allowed to shine for the benefit of all.
As a final warning, the current woke/ progressive mob is constantly turning upon itself and attacking its own. The movement itself is producing many broken souls who need to hear a better, truer answer to the dissatisfaction that led them to wokeness. If we are patient and aware, we can find many opportunities to offer true healing.
There is much more that could be said but my prayer is that this article will help some to wake up to the weakness and danger that critical theory/ wokeness posses. My hope is that we can limit the damage that it does to the church and to those young people to whom is sounds right. The world cannot save itself through political action or social activism. Salvation from sin and freedom to really live is ours, only through Christ.