Image by Thomas Allsop
Image by Thomas Allsop

Canceled Culture

In a society that promotes free love and tolerance, there sure is celebration over "canceling" people and slandering their character. Is it wrong to bring things that go against God's Word or conduct that is hurtful to someone's attention? Is it wrong to not shop at companies with whom you disagree with where their profits go? No, of course not. However, there is a way of handling all of that. Digging dirt on people and looking to ruin lives are not the ways to do that. Anyone who goes against the prevailing pressures of the world are discarded as useless. Considering that the ways of the world are often contrary to God's Word, where does this leave Christians? We are bound to become more and more canceled.

GotQuestions gives a great definition of cancel culture: "the modern social attitude that controversial speech or behavior must be punished through public shaming, silencing, boycotting, firing, bankrupting, deplatforming, etc." It goes beyond calling out and holding accountability for corruption and abuse. Instead, careers and reputations are smeared, calling for a social exile of a sort for those who have an "offensive" point of view. One can even be canceled for acts committed years ago or for being associated with someone deemed "canceled." There's more of an emphasis on promoting people to prove and win over the "right" side (which will change over time since it's based on subjective truth). This is a way to silence and eliminate opposing views. People are called to be compliant in the name of wanting to keep their jobs to support their families.

Cancel culture stems from three things: political correctness, postmodernism, and vigilantism. Political correctness is "the attempt to minimize social and institutional offense through policing speech (and therefore thought), forcing the use of certain words and banning other words." Postmodernism asserts truth is subjective and “tolerance” as a "supreme value." Have you noticed that those who most preach tolerance are the most intolerant of anyone they perceive as intolerant? Is there really free speech if those with a differing view are silenced? Vigilantism is based on judging a person based on what society approves or disapproves. It's an honor-shame system where those who are condemned and "shamed" are punished by what they "deserve": exclusion, ostracizing, persecution, bullying, and even violence.

A consequence of cancel culture has been a sharp divide between people. Relationships between friends and families have been severed in the name of trying to prove themselves virtuous enough for society. Have you stopped talking to someone because society has conditioned and distorted their perception of them? What doesn't make sense is disregarding character of someone that you have known and loved for years because they were declared an outcast. The person you love and trust doesn't just magically change overnight because society says they have. That's just exchanging logic and sense for pure emotionalism. A valid reason for ending relationships would be toxic treatment that warrants boundaries. What many don't realize is that since cancel culture is not based on any solid truth, what is considered "canceled" is constantly changing and can catch up to you. People aren't even thinking about that since cancel culture has destroyed coping mechanisms for dealing with triggers, turning people into ego-fixated victims. Instead, we should stick by our "canceled" friends, pray for them, and encourage them in their walk with the Lord.

Those who "cancel" others are essentially acting as if they are God. Who has the right to judge and condemn others besides God? Moreover, those who are judging and digging dirt on others would likely end up canceling themselves if they looked in the mirror and assessed themselves. We are all born into sin nature and fall short of God's glory (Rom. 3:23). None are without fault to throw the first stone (John 8:7). Matthew 7:1-5 (ESV) says: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."

Further, cancel culture condemns people permanently unforgiven. At its core, canceling is not looking to rehabilitate, teach, or restore. God's word speaks of having an attitude that is quite contrary to this. Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV) says: "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." The very essence of Christianity is that we are redeemable, not in ourselves, but by Christ alone. As Christians, we are to encourage repentance and that second chance that comes from Christ. This is the message we are to share as ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). Mistakes are an opportunity for a recognition of a need for a savior.

If cancel culture was biblical and true, then Paul should have been canceled and rejected for what he did in persecuting the early church. No matter how much God may have changed him or he apologized, there would be no grace or acceptance. Thankfully, this was not the case. Christ appeared before Paul in Acts 9, changing Paul's life completely and he spent the rest of his life living for Christ. Because Christ did not deem Paul "canceled," we now reap the blessings of the letters that Paul wrote to the churches that he founded since God still found Paul worth using as a vessel.

Also, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31). There is nothing loving about seeking to ostracize others and not offering grace. We are called to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness (1 Tim. 6:11). Further, we are to "speak truth in love" as part of growing more like Christ (Eph. 4:15). Counter to the world's logic, Christ even calls us to love and pray for our enemies, not to cancel them (Matt. 5:44). There is a way to be a peace with those whom you disagree with (Rom. 12:18). This does not mean that we should be doormats in the name of peace. 1 Peter 3:15-17 (ESV) calls us to: "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil."

There is a fine line between right and wrong, and now is not the time to cower down to the culture out of fear of being canceled. God does not call us to have a spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7). Further, we are not to forsake God's Word to be friends with the world. James 4:4 (ESV) says: "You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." You cannot walk with one foot following worldly philosophies and the other following God. Culture today is making it more and more difficult to be neutral when it is calling Christians to stray off that straight and narrow path. Thus, being a Christian in a world that cancels God is going to be a lonely walk. The world hated Christ first, so it is going to hate you too. John 15:18-19 (ESV) says: "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."

This world cannot offer us true satisfaction like Christ can, and this time on earth is like a vapor compared to eternity. There is nothing that can be done to you on earth that is worse than being separated from God from trading Him off for this world and bowing down to its demands. Am I saying to be anarchists? No, as a law student, I'm going to advise you to follow the law. What I am saying is culturally now is not the time anymore to just "sit on the fence" and go along with this canceling or any other promoted sin. You need to think through and decide who and what is important and is worth taking a stand for and not compromising on, and I pray Christ is at the top of that list.

Other Resouces:

- (Allie Beth Stuckey's Relatable Podcast)

- (Nastasia Grace)

By: Bible and Hot Cocoa (IG: @bibleandhotcocoa)

Jules is the founder of Bible and Hot Cocoa. She is a law student with a passion for standing up for truth. In any free time, she loves to read, study theology, write, and draw or paint. Jules's favorite book of the Bible would have to be a tie among John, Psalms, and Romans (as of now), and her favorite figure besides Jesus is King David or Paul.

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