Is Cancel Culture for Christians?
Cancel culture is all the rage these days. If someone does something you don’t like or says something you disagree with, you just cancel them. It’s easy, and it feels good (at least to the one doing the canceling). But is that really what Christianity is about? And more importantly, is that really what Jesus would do? I’m not so sure.
In this blog post, I want to challenge Christians to stop and think before they participate in cancel culture. There’s a big difference between speaking out against sin and canceling people because you disagree with them or they hurt your feelings. Before you join the Cancel culture bandwagon, stop and think about what you’re doing. You may regret it later.
No one is perfect; that's the point.
Historically Cancel culture has been a powerful tool for combating perceived sin and promoting a particular perspective. Everyone has used it, from the Catholic church to the feminist movement. The goal is to dehumanize and humiliate our enemies to prove that our way of thinking is better and that we, too, are better.
But when Christians get mixed up in Cancel culture, we run into a few ideological problems. First, is the idea that no one is perfect. We are all born into sin and will continue to sin until our dying day.
That means that no one can ultimately undergo the scrutiny that cancel culture requires, even the best of us. "For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God" (Romans 3:23 NIV). Here are some examples that you may not know:
Martin Luther was a rabid Anti-semite.
John Calvin facilitated the murder of thousands of fo Anabaptists because he disagreed with their theology (That's REAL Cancel culture!)
John Wesley believed men and women should sit separately in the church meeting.
Martin Luther King was an adulterer and womanizer.
Mother Teresa was continually accused of corruption.
So should we cancel the Reformation because Luther and Calvin were deeply flawed? Should we disqualify the impact of the Great Awakening because Wesley believed in segregation? Are civil rights in America diminished because of Dr. King's lustful temptations? Do the people in Calcutta whose lives have been saved by mother Teresa now hate her?
Of course not. That is not how Christianity works.
God has continually used flawed people to fulfill his purposes. He used the adulterous murderer, David, to lead a nation. He called Saul the persecutor of the church to expand his kingdom. He set apart Peter the coward to establish the church. Canceling these men from the Bible would omit 40 books of the Bible!!!
THE PRINCIPAL ERROR OF CANCEL CULTURE IS THAT IT LACKS MERCY. NO APOLOGY IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR THOSE WHO ARE “OFFENDED. — Father Randy Dollins
God has only used one person in history that was perfect, his son, Jesus. Every other servant of God has been deeply flawed and unworthy. That is why Christian Cancel culture seems so foolish.
When a sinful and self-righteous person calls out a fellow Christian for being intimidating and unrelatable, it should just cancel itself out, right?
But unfortunately, in today's cultural climate, it takes root and does significant damage to the church. The offended has an undeserved halo placed upon their head while the accused gets dragged through the mud. How does the please God?
Beware of the sands of time.
So, this is my advice to the Christians currently engaged in the 21st-century witch hunt.
Your time of relevancy will be short. Man-buns and big burly beards will be the mullets and creeper mustaches of your generation. I know it is hard to believe, but take it from me, I had the best mullet in my high school! (I'm so glad social media did not exist then).
I know that your thoughts and ideas are culturally acceptable now. They make you feel progressive and righteous. But unfortunately, in 10-15 years, even your ideology will be outdated, and YOU will be the target of cancel culture. Remember, The church praised Luther, Calvin & Wesley's ideas during their time, but they are shocking to us now.
If you don't learn to coexist with people who are different than you, then your radical idea of cancellation will come back and bite you before you know it.
Ask yourself, are you willing to undergo the same scrutiny and judgment that you put your enemies under? What if we were to look at your life and see if there was some sin there? What might we find?
Jesus has given us great insight into how we as Christians should feel about Cancel Culture. He said:
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:1-5 NIV)
So to put it plainly, focus on your own sanctification, let God handle the sanctification of your spiritual siblings. IF you have worked out all of your issues, THEN, you can judge others for their misgivings.
You will also notice in this passage, the larger log was in the eye of the accuser, and it was only sawdust in the accused's eye. It usually plays out the same way in real life. The person with the more significant issues is pointing out the minor infractions of their brother or sister. Don't fall into this trap. Examine yourself first.
Do unto others...
Again Jesus leads the way with a simple rule of thumb that should direct our steps and teach us how to address disunity within the Christian body.
"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12 NIV)
There will inevitably be differences in the family of God, but we must not handle things in the vengeful and divisive ways of the world. We must never attempt to build ourselves up while pushing others down. Cancel culture may appear virtuous through modern lenses, but when seen through the eyes of Christ, it is self-defeating and hypocritical.
I hope you can see cancel culture in its true light. It is not an ideology guided by the gospel and grace but rather the spirit of this age (vengeance and division). Because it is driven by our emotional response to disagreement, it cuts off productive conversation and life transformation. True sanctification begins with forgiveness; therefore, cancel culture should be rejected by Christians.