Left Purity Culture

Like many other people, I’m not happy with the terms “woke” and “wokeness,” but I haven’t been sure what a good alternative is. Then, just the other day, as I was reading a few of the thousands of op-eds that have recently been written about Christian “purity culture,” I realized that what people typically call “woke” culture is really a different sort of purity culture, one for the secular left. Just as the messages of Christian purity culture are

  • that you must be eternally vigilant in maintaining your purity;
  • that you must sign up to pledges of purity;
  • that you must denounce and separate yourself from those who are impure;
  • that if you lose your purity you can never get it back, your defilement marks you forever;

— well, the parallels are more than obvious. So instead of “wokeness” I will from now on refer to Left Purity Culture (LPC). I’ve altered the relevant tags for this blog accordingly.

UPDATE: My friend Brad East points out that his colleague Richard Beck wrote six years ago — as a self-described progressive Christian — about “The Purity Culture of Progressive Christianity.” It’s a really interesting post, and there’s an equally interesting follow-up.