(Photo credit: Biography.com)
In 2021 the Ultra-Left term themselves “the Woke”. Apparently they have entered a state of New Enlightenment that is wiping out the old one inspired by the likes of David Hume, John Locke, Voltaire, and Rousseau. A great many more names could be added to that honoured list, but the point is that, according to the Woke, all these old-school scientific and logical thinkers suffered from two major faults: first, they were all European, white males, and secondly, they had all been much too exposed to Christianity, even if they largely repudiated its institutional forms and most of its basic tenets.
It is true that Western society of the fourteen hundred years or so prior to our own much more liberated 21st– Century version failed to grant women their rights and proper and due place as the equals of men in politics, economics, and society. It is true that for centuries it condoned slavery and belief in its own racial superiority.
For forty or fifty years a growing trend among the Western intelligentsia has been to eviscerate itself with conspicuous self-flagellation and deep shame over these failures. Its abnegation of the foundational long-cherished adherence to reason, sound evidence, and scientific inquiry has rendered it a shadow of its former formidable force for finding truth. Instead it has made itself a penitent lapdog of the boundlessly expanding Woke agenda, doing curious mental gymnastics to cover its self-inflicted abject spiritual and intellectual poverty.
On the other hand, there is no avoiding historical Christendom’s dismal failure to live by the early Christian statement that “in Christ there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free” as the Apostle Paul put it in his letter to the Christian congregations of Galatia, a province of the ancient Roman Empire in what is now Turkey. Neither is there any use in denying the successor First Enlightenment society’s equally dismal failure on the same account. This guilty dual failure is the fodder the Ultra Left uses to induce the West’s self-loathing, screaming that it must all be torn down. The Woke have only an agenda of destruction and offer nothing but nihilism in return, in flaming fulfillment of Nietzsche’s so-clairvoyant prophecy of 150 years ago.
Despite all the despair and hate-screaming, there is still a light shining. Even today, 2000 years after he made it, the Apostle Paul’s statement is a beacon of hope in a dark world, a truly revolutionary statement, totally unlike the Ultra-Left’s pseudo-progressive nihilistic radicalism. Despite the self-flagellating oddity of the West’s admission of guilt, it is paradoxically out of the much-maligned West that all these much needed calls for reform and equalization of injustices and rights have come. The silence among all the other extant civilizations and cultures has been, on the whole and through many centuries, deafening.
On the surface, such a statement would seem to smack of yet more “racial” superiority – unless it is actually true. However, as per the Woke’s screamology, even truth is racist if it has a “Eurocentric” origin. But truth has nothing whatsoever to do with race or skin-color, which is after all nothing but melanin pigmentation. By declaring truth we are not absolving the failures or excusing the perpetrators of crimes and abuses. The West’s failures and crimes are just the “best” (or least) of a bad bunch.
We do not time or space here to produce the voluminous documentary and anecdotal evidence which substantiate that the West has been more progressive in its views and treatment of women and minorities over the last millennium and a half. However, the evidence is real and abundant for anyone willing to find it and take an impartial look at it.
Of course there are some very dark places and times and backslidings in the progressive (in the true sense of that word) movement of the West to achieve something approaching greater equality of the sexes. Incidentally, sexual equality is a different from “gender” equality, which has become the new cause of causes since “gender” was co-opted to refer to any and every choice of sexual behaviour.
In fact, the very emergence of the modern movement towards equalities and rights of all kinds emerged from the West, and no other culture, despite historians’ and anthropologists’ valiant efforts to offer spot-sightings and hints of these things elsewhere in the other major cultures and civilizations extant over the last two millennia. By itself, the West’s pre-eminence in this by is infuriating back-door evidence of the truth of the claim.
Christendom’s emergence is not contemporaneous with Christianity’s appearance as a rising faith in the 3rd and 4th Centuries CE. “Christendom” was a post-Charlemagne (ca 800 CE) idea. For beginners, we find that Western womanhood in the last 1500 years has generally lived with a greater measure of consideration and respect, and even inclusion in society’s affairs at large, than her counterparts in other civilizations. No doubt, this statement will displease some readers, but it is demonstrable historical fact.
When it comes to hope and assurance, the rights of women are the flagship of all human equality rights. That is why Paul, that oft-maligned, supposed misogynist who apparently warped the ancient Church’s mindset to exclude and subjugate women, put women’s full and true equality at the head of his short list of the kinds of equality Mashiach Yeshua (Jesus Christ) opened to any who will come into his “Kingdom of God”. This Kingdom was conceived as and offered more like a great extended family than any sort of “Kingdom” that has existed or exists in human governance in the records of history.
It is a declaration of real and true equality of men and women being made “in the image of God”. Both have a full and equal part in manifesting and experiencing that “imageness” here and now as well as in the final consummation to come. The physicality of sex is very real and is the source of begetting children and co-heirs for and in God’s Kingdom. That is why this equality tops the three fundamental kinds of equality the Kingdom ushers in.
But what of the other two fundamental equalities: “Jew vs. Greek” and “slave vs. free”?
When Paul refers to “Jew and Greek”, he is speaking of all being fully equal before God and in His family, regardless of ethnicity, “race” (skin color and any other physically distinguishing characteristics one might choose to select as some sign of superiority), language, or culture. None of this matters to the Creator or should to anyone claiming to truly seek Him/Her and follow His/Her ways.
Finally, Paul designates the true and full equality of both “slave and free” within the Creator’s Kingdom. This addresses all differences of social class and economic standing, both things which count for so much today – as they always have in “the present age”, the human Cosmos as we find it operating outside the Creator’s Kingdom.
Why is this triple declaration so powerful, so revolutionary, and full of hope? Why did its first emergence “turn the world upside down”, as was noted by those who witnessed and feared its coming into their midst within the first thirty years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Yeshua-Jesus?
It simply challenged (and challenges) every means of creating division and preference humanity has ever devised or fallen into because of our broken “imageness” – our fundamental deviation from the design and purpose of the Creator. It still challenges all of the same things, no matter how they have manifested themselves over the centuries and still do today. Same-old, same-old. “There is nothing new under the sun” – except the startling, dazzling coming of the Sent One, who came to lay the axe to the root and declare the true Revolution, the only Revolution that offers true hope and a real end to all our woes.
We will finish today with an ancient one-word Aramaic prayer – “Maranatha!” If you are curious, look it up.