Separating Culture and Christianity
There are many catch-phrases and movements going on these days that we need to be aware of, but also know how to respond as Christians. Many of them seem very good on the surface, but have dangerous and anti-God belief systems. Like the dangerous Emergent Church Movement of the early 2000’s, we need to be aware of what it is and why to stay away from it.
Woke Culture (Woke Church): Urban Dictionary defines "woke" as being aware, and "knowing what's going on in the community." It also mentions its specific ties to racism and social injustice. The rise in popularity of "woke" has been tied to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which initially surfaced in 2013 following the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. #StayWoke often accompanied social media posts about police brutality, systematic racism and the industrial prison complex.
Christian Response: We need to love all people of all cultures and encourage equal opportunity, equal treatment. Instead of getting involved in protests and the spread of cultural slang, let us get out there and show people how to make lives matter. Let us show people how to love everyone. We are not here to convince people to become Christians. We are here to show people that God’s way is the best way. It is not about social justice, but about caring for those in need around you, regardless of age, gender or culture.
New Narrative: New Narrative is a movement and theory of experimental writing launched in San Francisco in the late 1970s by Robert Gluck and Bruce Boone. New Narrative strove to represent subjective experience honestly without pretense that a text can be absolutely objective nor its meaning absolutely fluid. The New Narrative movement includes many gay and lesbian authors, and the works were greatly influenced by the AIDS epidemic in the '80s. The whole purpose behind the narrative culture is the fluidity of truth (your truth vs my truth) and the independent control you have over your life (removing God!). They actually say “the facts matter less than the narrative.” It is about healing and positivity, but is about denying the truth to ‘feel’ better.
Christian Response: Instead of adopting cultural terms like “narrative”, let us tell a story that is true and not fluid. The gospel working in our lives is our testimony and we bear witness of how it can work in the lives of others. God is not changing, and neither is truth. There is no new narrative in Christianity, but rather the various ways we each experience the one truth of God’s great love for all as we learn to be joyfully dependent on Him.
Me Too Movement: In 2006, Burke founded the Me Too movement and began using the phrase "Me Too" to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of sexual abuse and assault in society. The phrase "Me Too" developed into a broader movement following the 2017 use of #MeToo as a hashtag following the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations. The Me Too (or #MeToo) movement, with variations of related local or international names, is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual abuse where people publicize their allegations of sex crimes committed by powerful and/or prominent men. After millions of people started using the phrase and hashtag in this manner in English, the expression began to spread to dozens of other languages. The scope has become somewhat broader with this expansion, however, and Burke has more recently referred to it as an international movement for justice for marginalized people in marginalized communities. The original purpose of "Me Too" as used by Tarana Burke in 2006 was to empower women through empathy, especially young and vulnerable women.
Christian Response: Sexual abuse is prevalent in our culture, even in many churches unfortunately. We need to support and encourage the victims, pray for all involved, and do what we can to help prevent it from happening in our community. This is why accountability and love are extremely important.
Cancel Culture: Canceling and cancel culture have to do with the removing of support for public figures in response to their objectionable behavior or opinions. This can include boycotts or refusal to promote their work. It is a public decrying of things one is offended at and rallying support against that person.
Christian Response: The only thing that should offend us is sin, and definitely not the sinner! This is a movement of public shaming and entitlement that we should not be a part of. Rather, we need to pray for others and help them see the better way of Jesus Christ.
COVID Complaining: There are so many responses to the ‘COVID Crisis’ from extreme paranoia, to extreme denial. Everyone seems to be complaining either about how the governments are dealing with the virus, or how their neighbours are handling the crisis.
Christian Response: No matter where COVID came from or how our government responds to it, we need to take the high road in our response. We are called to obey and pray for our government, not complain about the restrictions. We are called to be an example to our communities, not joining in on the complaining about the governments. Let us not condemn those with extreme views, but rather respect their views and demonstrate God’s love to them. Instead of complaining about what we cannot do, let us be thankful for what we can do.