Cancel Culture: My First Impressions

God forgives sin and forgets.  As it is written by Isaiah the Prophet, “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25) But who is like our God? It is certainly not the men of the world. It is with evil intent that they hold iniquities ransom, remember them, and mercilessly use men’s former sins to bring their enemies to an end in the public square. The culture we once knew is no more. Even if we wanted to see it return, far too much has already been lost to us. In the name of justice, statues have been unlawfully torn down and defamed, books have been burned, paintings and items of significant history defaced and ruined, and businesses have been bullied out of existence. But that is the mere tip of the iceberg for what has come to be called the “cancel culture.” I really didn’t know what this all was until I began studying it and its effects a few weeks ago. Here’s why you should be interested in it.

“Cancel culture” is a manipulation and a violent attack on our rights to free speech. Here’s how. There was a time when people would look and recognize the best of someone while forgiving their past mistakes. There was a time when people who disagreed with one another sat down and argued with each other over a beer and, yet, remained friends. By this I am not saying that there was a perfect time without violence or sinful rage, but it wasn’t what we saw each time we turned on the news. There is a new fear in people’s hearts which is that their lives and property could be literally set ablaze by an angry mob for speaking out or even simply asking for a conversation/debate. That time of dialogue looks to be coming to an end as people have begun to assemble with loud voices, beating their opponents into submission by destroying their honor, integrity, and reputations.

What would make people start such a war to cancel history and people alike? It wasn’t cleverly crafted arguments with facts, nor was it honest judgements of character that began this. It was simply adults throwing temper tantrums with the loudest ones prevailing. Once enough of them were together they demanded change on their time. When their timeline and demands weren’t met mob rule and mob justice circumvented the the United State’s justice system. Those who hoped to be spared from the witch hunts and the mob’s malicious violence joined together in arms and voices.

Those who had resisted hoped for an open dialogue to discuss their differences and find a peaceful way forward, but they were met with radicals who endeavored to silence them through violent threats of rage for even thinking of questioning them. Loud voices railing false accusations and spurning hatred is all it has taken to turn one against another. People, Christians, conservatives, even children and young adults are beginning to fear speaking freely. They fear going to schools, colleges, and universities. They fear losing their business when they are targeted by rioters and boycotters; they fear their lives being threatened when people post their home addresses on the internet inciting the radicals to harass them. Even worse than all these things is that “cancel culture” knows no bounds and even threatens the lives of children so that their parents, grandparents, and friends think twice about speaking out.  How could we hope to live in a world like this?

We read in Proverbs 10, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses” This cancel culture is diametrically opposed to Christianity. It stems from hatred and it certainly does not profess a love for one’s neighbor. It puts the best construction on nothing and vows to tear down everything that stands against it. Do not expect graciousness from cancel culture. Expect rather that every aspect of your life will be brought into scrutiny under a microscope. Every photo, tweet, comment, like, post, friend, vacation, and place visited is all fair game to be used as ammunition against you to destroy your character. I don’t say this to scare you, but to ready you for battle. We will need to be armed with faith in the Word of God to extinguish these flaming darts of the evil one. We will need to be armed with prayer, not only for ourselves, but our brothers and sister in Christ, and yes, even our enemies (Ephesians 5:16-18; Matthew 5:44).

What we are seeing is not unprecedented. This is what a nation collapses into when minds are no longer bright with thought, but when the inner rage of emotions from the evil heart spill out and the utter lack of self-control is let loose. This is the mere fruit of society calling what is evil “good” and what is good “evil” (Isaiah 5:20). It really makes sense from the other side. If you have nothing good to debate and no foundation for your fickle morals, what then is there left for you to do in order to win? All that is left is to terrorize and war against the person to destroy who they are and who they love until they give in or die.

My impression from cancel culture is that the best way to force submission, without inflicting bodily harm to yourself, is to make the person a reproach (a disappointment) to those closest to him. Remember God forgives and forgets sins, but it is the wicked hearts of men who hold sins ransom so that brother betrays brother and friend turns on friend. This happens because mere association with the shamed is damning. There is so much pressure on one to “cancel” that people are even turning on members of their own families to avoid public shame and ridicule. In a world like that, there will cease to exist forgiveness. We are seeing that there is nothing that can truly satiate the thirst of those who lead in cancelling people’s lives and our culture. Giving in to the mob does not protect, nor are you protected by virtue signalling (the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue). Don’t pander to sin and wickedness. “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish” (Psalm 146:3-4). The only thing that we dear Christians can do is hold dearly to Christ our Lord. As we pray, “For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God” (Psalm 31:3-5).

I would say it is easier for Christians when those who persecute or pressure are far away, distant and unknown, but the fight is coming close to home and will test our faith. It will be as David said in Psalm 55, “For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me— then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal,  my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng.” You see, there may come soon a time when those who will try to put you out or cancel you, will be those closest to you. Even our fellow Christian brethren will condemn us and forsake us for not being “woke” enough. As David confessed in Psalm 27, “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.” Though you may be made to endure such awful betrayal and abandonment, the Lord God Almighty will not abandon you. The world may try to cancel you out of existence, but they are not God, and they do not know His mercy. He seeks only to cancel the debt of sin that stands against you through the blood of Christ (Colossians 2:13-15), and he gladly receives you when the world hates you for His Name sake (Matthew 10:22). Our times are in the Lord’s hands. Take refuge in the God of your salvation for, when evildoers assail you to eat up your flesh, it is they who stumble and fall (Psalm 27:2). Rise to arms, with prayer employ you, as the great hymn says. Let your prayer be the pouring out of the soul in distress as David did in Psalm 31,

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. For I hear the whispering of many– terror on every side!– as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love! O LORD, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go silently to Sheol.

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