Pro-life and Wokeness Part 1
If you don’t engage wokeness as a pro-life apologist, you may end up talking right past people who have bought into that worldview.
Hello, everyone. Scott Klusendorf here, president of Life Training Institute. Welcome to our podcast, The Case for Life, where we help you think more clearly about the worldview issues surrounding the abortion debate. And today I want to look at an issue that a lot of pro lifers have ignored, and it’s to their peril that they’re ignoring it.
And that is the worldview of wokeness or critical race theory. We’ve heard all the rage in the media about racial issues for the last two years, especially since 2020 with the George Floyd, uh, riots and everything else that went on. But what a lot of pro lifers are not doing is thinking about how do these larger cultural worldviews impact My conversation with someone on an issue like abortion and like we talked about in a previous episode If you don’t understand the underlying worldview The person you’re talking to brings to the abortion debate You could end up talking white right past them instead of engaging them on a thoughtful level So today I want to look at what woke Is define it for you.
And then later we will talk about why it doesn’t align with a biblical pro-life worldview. And that will hopefully help you understand the people you’re conversing with who bring these issues up. So what is wokeness? Now? Let me. give you a warning right out of the gate. The minute you try to define critical race theory or wokeness, and I’m using those terminologies synonymously because they, they really are, uh, the minute you start to define what it is, critics are going to say, oh, you don’t understand it.
And that’s their standard default reply. Don’t let that throw you. It is possible to define Wokeness, especially a working definition that will help you at the street level, and I’m going to do that for you right now. So what is wokeness? Wokeness is actually a worldview, not merely a lens. A lot of people think it’s a helpful lens for looking at race issues.
No, it’s actually an alternate worldview that basically divides all of humanity into one of two camps. You are either an oppressor, Or you’re an oppressed victim. You’re one of the two. And whatever category you’re in, you can’t change categories. You’re stuck there forever. Oppressors versus the oppressed.
And what Wokeness does is it looks at all of reality through the lens of race. That’s what Wokeness does. And we can, uh, look at it even closely here, look at it even more closely here, when we understand it as a comprehensive worldview and not just a helpful tool, as some evangelicals have tried to tell us it is.
Wokeness is going to scrutinize all of reality through the lens of race. There’s no part of reality that escapes it. In that sense, it’s a comprehensive worldview. So let’s look at a little deeper look at, at critical theory here and, and what it is. Wokeness is grounded in a larger segment of thought known as critical theory.
And to understand critical theory, you need to go back to the 1920s. What happened is Darwin threw out his his view of naturalism, but other thinkers reacted to naturalism by saying, wait a minute, it’s not complete enough. And one of those who responded, of course, was Karl Marx. And Marx said, no, we got to look deeper at humanity.
It’s not enough to just say, we’re all just the product of a mindless chance. universe, although Marx agreed with that, Marx felt there was greater explanation needed to understand human nature. So Marx came along and said, look, let’s divide all of humanity into one of two camps, those who own the means of production and those that work for those who own the means of production.
So with Marx, all of humanity is divided on economics. You’re either one of those who is working for those who produce the means of production, or you’re one of the rich capitalist owners, and if you’re one of the latter, we need to overthrow you. So Marx is dividing all of humanity based on economics.
Critical theory comes along and says, you know what, Marx didn’t quite get that right. In reality, it’s not about economics. It’s about class. identity. It’s about your identity group that really matters. And the two big divisions are oppressors versus oppressed, not those with economic means and those without.
So think of critical theory as refining Marxism. And this is important because a lot of people, the minute you point out that critical theory or wokeness has Marxist roots, they say, Oh, that’s not true. You’re just being reactionary. No. It is actually a historical fact that critical theory emerged out of Marxism.
It’s an attempt to refine it a little bit and move the focus away from economics to group identity. So when you look at Wokeness, what do you see? Right away you see that Everything is about group identity. For example, what makes you a racist is not that you individually do bad things to people with other skin colors.
It’s not that you go beat someone up because they don’t look like you or mistreat them because you don’t like their skin color. That’s not really what makes you a racist. What makes you a racist is you belong to a group identity, an oppressor group like whites. heterosexual males, for example, those are by definition oppressive groups.
And if you’re a member in one of those groups, for example, you are an oppressor, not because you’ve done anything wrong individually to someone. that is not like you, but because you belong to that oppressive group identity. It’s your group identity that defines you, not your individual acts. Your behavior isn’t the issue, your group identity is.
What about a topic, uh, related to this? that comes down to what truth is. And this is really where critical theory, I think, goes off the rails big time. Critical theory says that we discover truth not through evidence, not through looking at the facts, not through analyzing arguments for their plausibility or their validity or their soundness.
Rather, truth is determined solely, and I do mean solely, from the perspective of the alleged oppressed So, for example, if you’re a white man, a heterosexual white man, and you are making an argument against abortion, and your debate opponent happens to be, let’s just say, a black woman, you not only are deemed to be illogical, you are deemed to not even have standpoint, meaning you don’t even have legitimacy to be at this debate and you should be excluded.
We wonder where this whole cancel culture comes from, where this attempt to shut down free speech comes from. How did we get to the point where we got politically correct speech? Well, it comes out of critical theory that basically says Victims have an exclusive right to define reality that oppressors do not.
So if you’re in that group known as an oppressor, again, simply not because you’ve done anything bad, but because you happen to belong to that particular group identity based on your skin color in terms of wokeness, if you’re white and you happen to make a claim that abortion is wrong, You are disqualified from even speaking to the issue with a moral voice because of your group identity.
Only the alleged victim groups have a right to speak about it. And this is where a concept of intersectionality comes in. Intersectionality comes in and says your right to speak is based solely on how many intersections you have with injustice. So for example, a white male, you have zero intersectionality points, so therefore you have no right to speak at all.
But a woman would at least have one, so she would have more authority because as a woman, she is at least partially engaged with a victim class in virtue of her gender. A black woman would have even more right to speak because she intersects with two points of injustice, being black and being a woman.
Now let’s make this even more interesting. We get a black lesbian woman. She has more authority than everybody because she’s got three points of intersection with injustice. Being a lesbian, being a woman, and being black. So you can see how this works. Basically, if you don’t have enough intersectionality points, you’re shut out of the debate.
And this is why you see, as I saw in Congress not long ago, a black congressman say to a white… colleague of hers in the Congress, you have no right to speak to this issue because you don’t have standpoint. You’re white, you’re not black, you have no say on this, and she was literally trying to shut him down from being able to speak.
Imagine that, a fellow congressperson, a colleague, being told you don’t have any right to speak simply because of your You’re, you’re class or identity. You’re white. Therefore, no, no voice from you. This is unbelievable because it turns the concept of truth on its head. And if there is anything about wokeness that is most dangerous, it is this concept of standpoint epistemology that says your right to speak is based solely And if you don’t have standpoint, you have no legitimacy, you can’t speak.
So that’s, that’s what wokeness is driving at, is limiting the debate to those who have enough categories of legitimacy to speak. And the concept, people say, well, how does wokeness itself come in? Well, wokeness is the belief that only the woke can see the systemic injustice in society, and you have to become woke to it.
It’s almost a born again experience in the Christian sense. You have to be awakened to all the systemic injustice in the culture, and if you haven’t been awakened to it, you are not going to see it. In fact, you’re going to be the biggest part of the problem because you’ll be perpetrating this. This also leads to a section of responsibility.
Why is it that whites are guilty even if they don’t do any racial acts individually? So let’s say we’ve got a White House wife. She is the most generous person on the planet. In fact, she’s got black neighbors, she babysits their kids, she cares for them, she knows the dad has been having trouble. at work, keeping a job, and so she provides that family with resources.
She’s given them money, groceries, loaned them her car. She’s gotten out of her way to be good neighbors to this family. On Critical Race Theory, or Wokeness, she is still an oppressor, and here’s why. In virtue of being white, she has participated in a culture known as whiteness that has used its advantage to exploit people of color.
And even though she isn’t doing anything individually racist or bad, she is still guilty in virtue of being part of that group identity. And it’s crucial we understand this, because when you’re a pro lifer and you’re talking to somebody, And let’s say you’re a white woman and you’re talking to a black woman about abortion, or a different race, a lady of a different race, and you’re trying to make your case.
It’s very possible that person you’re talking to, if they bring a woke worldview to the discussion, Will look at you and they won’t even listen to your logic. They will try to delegitimize you based on your your identity group And therefore you’ll be shut out of the debate and this is why a lot of pro lifers are getting frustrated They’re thinking why on earth aren’t we even getting a hearing?
Well, the issue isn’t that your argument’s bad We don’t need new marketing. The problem isn’t that you’re talking too strongly about abortion The problem is a cultural one. You’re being shut out based on your group identity, not based on the validity or soundness of your argument. And you need to understand that going into a discussion so that you can address it when the time comes.
This is what Wokeness has done. It has reduced all debates to membership in a class. And unless you are in the right class, You’re out. You get no, no say on this at all. Uh, racism is never about unwokeness. It’s never about individual acts. Remember that. That’s the key thing to remember about this whole problem with wokeness.
And also remember truth is not about The validity or soundness. In fact, I was watching an exchange not long ago where the, the, the author of a woke book that’s widely popular was accusing her debate opponent of actually contributing to the problem of racism because her opponent refused to accept the label of being a racist.
And this guy rightly said, I’m not going to let you put that label on me. You are not going to project onto me something I’m not. And here was the response of the author. By merely opposing me, you’re proving you’re a racist. Talk about a heads I win tails you lose situation. Uh, here it is. If you even oppose wokeness, you are proving that wokeness is true.
This is demagoguery. It’s ideological tyranny. It’s not refuting arguments logically, and this is why wokeness is so dangerous and why it needs to be Uh, challenged and if you’re a pro lifer you better be equipped to challenge it or you’re going to lose. What I’m going to do in a subsequent, uh, section is talk about why wokeness does not line up with a biblical worldview.
Uh, we won’t do that in this session but what I want to do is close our time out today by giving you some resources to read up on the subject because you need to be read up on this if you’re going to engage a culture. That is more and more turning woke, even in Christian circles. One of the best books you could get is this book by Owen Strand called Christianity and Wokeness.
He goes through it and really gives some great points on why it doesn’t line up with a biblical worldview. And he’ll equip you to understand that. Another book, uh, is by Douglas Grothuis. I’m going to have Doug on the show here soon to talk about wokeness because this book really goes into why the historical roots of wokeness are flawed, why the United States, for example, is not a racist nation intrinsically, and he goes through all that.
He points out where we failed on the issue of race, and that’s important, but he shows that the nation is not systemically and intrinsically racist. Highly recommend this book by Doug Grotist. Um, another book that you may want to read, it’s, it’s not by a Christian author per se, but it’s a book that really gets into the deep cultural roots of what’s going on right now in our woke revolution, is this book by Rod Dreher.
It’s called Live Not by Lies. I apologize, the desk… jacket got torn off it. So, uh, thank, thank my cats for that. They really are demonic. I would like to have a cat hanging at my house, but I’m outvoted. Uh, another book that will give you, uh, a background on the culture we’re in right now is Carl Truman’s book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self.
What, what Truman is going to do is give you the philosophical background of what we’re seeing in culture right now, this idea that the self is basically God, and anything the self desires should be freely expressed, and not only freely expressed, but uniformly approved and affirmed by people, and if you don’t affirm myself, you’re an oppressor.
Very helpful book on that regard, and if you want the one book that’s kind of the one stop book. fits all on this whole issue of wokeness and critical theory. This just came out, Neil Shenvey’s book, along with Pat Sawyer, Critical Dilemma. I really recommend this. It’s textbook length, but it really goes into the worldview issues.
I’m sorry for being a little bit technical here with resources, but I really do want you to be equipped to know how to deal with this. It’s a big issue. On the next episode, we’re going to talk about why wokeness doesn’t line up with a biblical pro life view and how you might engage it persuasively. So until next time, we’ll see you then.
Thanks for joining us. Join us at ScottKlusendorf. com or on Facebook or Instagram. Look for the Case for Life page and we would be delighted if you stop by. By the way, we are going to put some extensive show notes about Wokeness that will go with this episode. I’ve already got them typed up ready to go because I know this is a lot to take in, but we want you to be equipped.
Look forward to seeing you next time.