“Be not unequally yoked . . . with the woke”

Adam Burrell


The conversation about social justice and wokeism has found its way into every sphere of life. We see it in newspapers, TV shows, sporting events, local and national government, and even in our church’s pulpits.  As Christians in a post-modern society, we should not be surprised by the drift of illogical, immoral, and unbiblical philosophies in the world. Unfortunately, the church is not exempt from its pull. 

In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul warns believers in Corinth not to be “unequally yoked with unbelievers.” In context, Paul is telling the church in Corinth not to form their spiritual identity alongside the idol worshipers of their culture. Why? Because Christians hold values that idol worshipers reject. Christians must not allow themselves to be hitched to the same yoke as those hostile to the Christian faith. 

Individual believers are part of the spiritual house in which Christ dwells (2 Corinthians 5:1). Remember the words of the Apostle, “What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God…” (2 Corinthians 6:16a). Paul takes seriously the purity of the church and those who are a part of it. In other words, false teaching and false teachers have no place in the church.  

What we see in churches today is that many have become yoked to the philosophy of wokeism. Many define wokeism as a new religion that masquerades under the façade of justice and love. Underneath the mask is a godless ideology antithetical to the gospel. The church has no business partnering with this false religion. Some, however, have taken hold of this worldly philosophy and tried to syncretize it with the Christian faith.

The question is, has your church done this? If so, how can you know? If it has, what do you do? Here are a few things to consider.

Woke Philosophy

Woke philosophies in the church can take on many different forms.  One form it can take is that of bad ecclesiology.  An example of this would be a church that hires someone based on their ethnicity rather than their biblical qualifications. We do not see this type of philosophy anywhere in the Scripture. The qualifications for the position of a pastor are found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, where the focus is on the man’s character and ability to teach, not his skin color (2 Corinthians 5:16-17a). Yet, woke philosophy doesn’t stop with bad ecclesiology.  If your church has adopted the use of qualifiers before the word Christian (ex. “gay” Christian), its going woke.  If your church has softened its language on things that the Bible clearly calls sin, its going woke. The Scriptures are sufficient to provide answers for these philosophies.  Trust the Word, not the woke.        

Woke Preaching 

Christian preaching is Christ-centered preaching. It was in Paul’s day, and it is supposed to be in our day as well. Woke preaching is different. Many good-hearted preachers have traded in Christ-centered preaching for culture-centered preaching. Instead of focusing on the gospel of Jesus, they have turned to the grievance of man. 

Woke preaching exchanges the word of God for the words of godless men.    

We should care about injustice. We should even preach about it. The problem is that woke preaching appeals to the godless ideology of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality to find solutions instead of properly dividing the word of truth and preaching the sufficiency of Christ crucified. Woke preaching exchanges the word of God for the words of godless men.    

Another place where we find wokeism is by platforming women who preach to both men and women in the church. There are godly complementarians on both sides of this discussion. However, what we have found in recent days are churches platforming women to preach in biologically mixed audiences. This is done under the guise of giving gifted women the opportunity to exercise their gifts under the church’s authority. The problem with this is that the scripture decries this practice (I Timothy 2:12). The office and function of a pastor are reserved for qualified men. Wokeism blurs these clearly defined lines.                 

Woke Practice 

Any church calling members of the congregation to repent of “whiteness,” admonishing the church to read more people of color for a fuller perspective on the Bible, or promoting the #BlackLivesMatters organization has gone woke. Do black lives matter? Absolutely! Christians, above any other group, must be for life–from womb to tomb. Every human is made in the image of God.  However, the Black Lives Matter organization is anti-family, anti-unity, and anti-Christian. 

No one should repent of their skin color or the past sins of their ancestors (Ezekiel 18:20). A sovereign God ordains a person’s skin color and the geographical location of their birth.

No one should repent of their skin color or the past sins of their ancestors (Ezekiel 18:20). A sovereign God ordains a person’s skin color and the geographical location of their birth. Thus, there is nothing to repent of when it comes to these sovereign decrees. As far as what a church is reading and studying, we should be asking, “Is the author faithful to the text?” We should not be concerned with the skin color of the author. The Lord has gifted the church with teachers of all skin colors, from all continents, in every century. We need to look for those who understand the word over a specific skin tone.  

What Now 

If your church has adopted a woke hermeneutic, it will find its way into the pulpit and the day-to-day practices of the church. When this happens, your church has become “unequally woked.” It is a church that has exchanged the sufficiency of scripture for the model of man. The question is if your church has fallen into the worldly trap, what are you to do?

If you are a pastor:

  • Repent for leading your church in an ungodly direction. (James 3:1)
  • Recommit to lead your church based on the sufficient Word of God. (2 Peter 1:3)
  • Reengage your community to the glory of God. (Matthew 28:16-20)

If you are a church member:

  • Humbly pray for your leadership to see the truth and lead accordingly. (Hebrews 13:17)
  • Humbly make sure your motives are godly. (I Peter 5:5)
  • Humbly approach them with 2 or 3 others who share your concerns and speak about your issues (1 Timothy 5:19)
  • Humbly leave if the leadership is determined to lead the church in this direction after you have had a season of prayer, fasting, and seeking wise counsel. (Acts 2:42)

One of the saddest things I have seen over the past three or four years is to watch godly men fall into the wokeism trap and lead their church down that path. Paul warned the church in Corinth not to be unequally yoked to unbelievers, and I believe we can apply this to the new religion of our day. 

Let us not be blinded by this masquerading philosophy. It is not compatible with the word. It has no place alongside Christ’s bride. Thus, we must seek not to yoke ourselves with the woke philosophy of
our day.  

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