Mary is a sweet old grandmother who just cashed her Social Security check at the local bank.  It had been a busy day but she got her check cashed just as the bank was closing.  John looks around the corner and sees Mary walking home.  He really wants to grab her purse and get that money, but he is debating with himself on whether to do it or not.  What is going through John’s head?  What is holding him back?  Is it that someone might see him and he would be arrested?  Or is he thinking how Mary needs that money to live on and stealing the money would be really hard on her?  The former reason is where our human nature takes us.  We don’t want to be caught and suffer the shame and consequences.  The later reason is more common in cultures where Christianity has influenced the culture.  Concern for others is a trait emphasized in Christianity.

The former reason is part of an honor-shame culture, which is common in much of the world because of human nature.  Today it is showing up more and more in the West because of our post-Christian society.  The “Cancel Culture” is one manifestation of it.  Cancellation is to bring shame upon the person for actions or words that a group considers disgraceful and objectionable.  The purpose of canceling is more than just a group expressing displeasure.  The purpose is to make the person so undesirable that it destroys the person’s reputation and causes people to avoid them.  Many times that includes demands that the person lose their job.  In fact maintaining a relationship with a shamed or canceled person could cause you yourself to be canceled.

Cancellation is a tool used by critical theorists to fight against unjust societal structures, especially with regard to race. Two recent cancellation examples are the removal of statues of slave owners and the canceling of people who had years before blackfaced themselves.  From these examples, you can see cancellation has no time limit, and there is no forgiveness or restoration for canceled people.  You can be canceled for something you did or said in the past that you now regret.

An interesting side point is that in our postmodern society, moral truth is supposed to be relative.  However for these people who cancel, the current moral truth is fixed and rigid, but for many of those being canceled the moral goalposts have been moved and what was okay back then has now become an objectionable offense.  The moral standard has changed.  I do believe in a fixed moral standard as determined by Christian scripture.  That standard has not changed.  It has been set for thousands of years.  We all fail to live up to that standard, but there is forgiveness and restoration found in Jesus Christ.

As Christians, how do we approach someone who believes in canceling?  First start with prayer. Ask God for guidance and for him work through you.  Second, be humble and listen. Try to understand and learn where they are coming from.  Many times they are trying to right actual wrongs in society.  If they are critical theorists, they will believe that removing the oppressive norms of society will solve the problem.  As Christians, we know that the root problem is our sinful nature, and that liberation from societal norms will not solve the problem. Remember the restoration and forgiveness found in Jesus is the solution. Third, realize that there will be differences of opinion.  You don’t have to convince the person.  Just plant a seed and let God do the rest in his time.

2 thoughts on “Cancellation

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