The wisest man in the Bible, King Solomon, said this in the Book of Ecclesiastes: “There is nothing new under the sun…” So it shouldn’t surprise us that even though the term woke has only come into vogue the last few years, woke people have been around for millennia. In fact, some of the ‘wokest’ folk of all lived way back in New Testament times.
The woke folk in Jesus’ day tended to have different issues than woke people today, but the two groups resemble each other in a multitude of other ways. They are eerily similar where it counts most: in their characters.
What Exactly Is Woke Now?
In 2017, the dictionary defined the term woke as: “well-informed, up-to-date, especially in regards to racial or social discrimination and injustice.” Since then, being woke has further evolved to indicate support for a number of causes and ideas, including:
- BLM (Black Lives Matter, the “organization”)
- CRT (Critical Race Theory)
- DEI (Diversity Equity and Inclusion)
- abortion rights
- man-made climate change
- open borders
- absolute compliance with government mandates regarding the Covid 19 vaccine.
The list of compulsory beliefs grows as today’s woke elite deems necessary.
Woke Back Then
The woke in Jesus’ time were another kind of elite: the Pharisees. These were the religious leaders of the day. They made up their own rules that could not be questioned. In their eyes, they were the only ones who were right, and they were right all the time. (Sound familiar?)
Of course, today’s woke folk don’t call themselves religious the way the Pharisees did. (They may claim to be “spiritual,” but understanding what that means is like getting a firm grip on jello.) Most don’t pretend to have any affinity to formal religion. Still, they tend to frame their ideas in dogmatic tones, and wear their wokeness with a holier-than-thou attitude. You could say that today’s woke are secular Pharisees. In reality, like the Pharisee elites of old, the woke elites of 2021 have very little room for God in their lives, because they perceive themselves as being their own ultimate authorities. They act as their own god and originator of truth.
Woke, Old And New
A belief in their own universal rightness is only one of the character traits that these two groups of wokesters share. (Note: In the following section, the pronoun “they” refers to both the religious elite Pharisees of Jesus’ day and the secular Pharisees of today, aka, the woke.)
1. They Are DEMANDING Know-it-alls
The Pharisees had a very precise picture of what truth looked like, and they concocted all sorts of rules to impose upon everyone else.
The Pharisees made up:
- Rules for daily living: you MUST wash your hands before you eat. — Matthew 15:2
- Rules for working: you MUST NOT do any work on the Sabbath. — Matthew 12:11-12
- Rules for social interactions: you MUST only associate with good and clean people (that would be people like them), not dirty, contaminated people (everyone else). — Luke 5:30.
NOTE: These rules were not God’s rules. They were wildly-exaggerated standards that distorted Old Testament Jewish laws.
The religious elite Pharisees demanded that everyone else comply with their arbitrary rules or risk expulsion from the synagogue (which was like being canceled back in the day). The woke of today have also created their own rules. They, too, seek to impose those rules – and their wills – on everyone else.
Here are some examples of modern woke doctrine rules:
- You must support Black Lives Matter, the “organization.” To do otherwise makes you a racist.
- You must support Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). To do otherwise makes you a racist.
- You must support LGBTQ. To do otherwise makes you a hater / homophobe.
- You must support women having abortions. To do otherwise means you are anti-women.
- You must believe in man-made climate change. To do otherwise means you are ignorant, anti-science, and you don’t care about the environment.
- You must get the COVID vaccine and booster(s). To do otherwise makes you an ignorant anti-science, conspiracy theorist that doesn’t care about others.
- You must believe in open borders. To do otherwise makes you a xenophobe.
What is the message behind every woke doctrine? It’s the same two-part message of the Pharisees: A) We alone know what is true. B) You are an ignorant fool if you don’t agree with what we say.
In the eyes of woke folk, unquestioning submission to all their beliefs is absolutely mandatory because they are right. And to confirm that they’re right, the woke have “fact checkers” that tell the rest of the world that they are right.
In fact, they are an ugly right, because …
2. They are SELF-RIGHTEOUS Virtue Signalers —
Just like the religious Pharisees of the past, the secular Pharisees of today are very, VERY proud of themselves for how good they are. In fact, they are obsessed with their own goodness. The need to have others recognize that you are an extremely good person is at the very foundation of being woke. Most woke folks will resent you if you suggest that they’re sinners like everyone else on the planet.
The modern-day woke folks’ combination of pride in their own goodness, plus their belief in their own ideological perfection, makes them just as self-righteous as their first century counterparts, the Pharisees – and just as convinced that they’re better than everyone else.
Today, we have a name for that kind of self-righteousness: virtue signaling.
The self-righteousness of the woke also makes them immune to any suggestion that they could ever improve. Translation:
3. They are ARROGANT and UNTEACHABLE —
In the Bible, the religious Pharisees are never seen engaging in any self-reflection. Isn’t that kind of amazing? They were face to face with Jesus Himself! But never did they say about Jesus, “Hmmmm, He may have a point. He could be right!” They did not consider that a paralyzed man was now walking by His command. They did not consider the genius of the parables He told. They did not consider the fact that huge crowds gathered to listen to Him. They certainly weren’t going to be duped like the ignorant masses!
The Pharisees were forever asking Jesus questions. BUT … they did not ask Jesus questions to learn from Him. No! They asked Him questions to trap Him. They played the “Gotcha!” Game. They had no desire to learn. No matter how Jesus confronted their faulty logic and false ideas and showed them to be wrong, they remained hard-hearted and spiritually blind.
Today’s woke elite are also stubbornly secure in their version of secular goodness:
- Defund the police – because the jobs that they perform are systemically evil.
- Open the borders – because we must care for the downtrodden of other countries.
- Let boys think they are girls and compete in girls’ sports – because that is how they feel.
Though their ideas are based on premises that are highly debatable, and often seem to bypass common sense, the woke will not tolerate honest debate. They are opposed to hearing opposing viewpoints. Anyone who dares to express alternate views — whether on a college campus, in the public square, in a book, or even in a private conversation at the dinner table — will suffer their contempt.
4. They are NAME-CALLING BULLIES —
Look at the names the Pharisees called people unlike themselves:
- Jesus ate dinner with rejects from society. The Pharisees called those people “scum.” (Mark 2:16)
- A known prostitute humbly washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair. The Pharisees were repulsed that Jesus would let such a “sinner” even touch Him. (Luke 7:36-39)
- The Pharisees said John the Baptist was demon-possessed because he didn’t eat bread and drink wine as they did. (Luke 7:33)
- On the other hand, they called Jesus a glutton and drunkard and friend of sinners because He attended parties with outcasts from society. (Luke 7:34)
The woke of today are no different. If you don’t agree with them, you are attacked, shamed, and branded with names such as:
- …and the list continues to grow.
The woke’s deployment of derogatory labels shows that, though they may speak of humanitarianism, equity, and fairness, they actually believe in dehumanizing, devaluing, and dividing. In fact:
5. They are SUPER JUDGMENTAL —
The Pharisees hated Jesus. They were on a mission to kill Jesus – the ultimate earthly cancellation.
“As Jesus was leaving, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees became hostile and tried to provoke him with many questions. They wanted to trap him into saying something they could use against him.” — Luke 11:53-54
“ … the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.” — Matthew 12:14 –
I find it curious that the woke of today do not tolerate a belief in a God Who judges humans and would send anyone to Hell. YET, today’s woke are always ready to judge (cancel) everyone that does not conform to their teachings and obey their rules.
- A baker doesn’t want to make a wedding cake for a gay couple’s wedding? Close that bakery down!
- A health worker who was a hero during the pandemic now doesn’t want to get vaccinated? Canceled! Fired! Out of a job!
- A coworker wrote the “n” word in a social media post ten years ago? Call HR! Start a petition! Tell the boss to toss out that bigot!
The very ones who used to lecture conservatives to be tolerant and accepting of differing views have now become the least tolerant and the most judgmental people around.
So tell me, how attracted are you to know-it-alls who virtue-signal their goodness, while they arrogantly bully others and judge them mercilessly?
My next post will look at what Jesus said about the woke of His day, and how those same words apply to the woke of today. Stay tuned!