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Cancel Culture and the Lack of Forgiveness

We’ve all witnessed it or have taken part in it at one time or another. We see something outrageous on social media and we suddenly participate in the mob throwing of ‘shame grenades’ at the violator. Such violators are routinely shamed and humiliated publicly and are forced to repent for their transgressions for the whole world to see.

Consequently, the violator eventually gets fired from their job or canceled all together from the public sphere. This is what we call “cancel culture”. It’s the modern-day version of being a Pharisee. Our political partisanship has amplified the worst segments of our culture. The rhetoric is even more deplorable.

We’ve all seen the cancel culture mob in action. They drudge up a person’s past (we’ve all have skeletons in our closet) and accuse this person as being the worst person on the planet and BAM, they are tarred and feathered and canceled. Cancel culture is about accusations with no forgiveness.

Here’s an examination of the ‘cancel culture’s lack of forgiveness and why we Christians need to embody the character of Christ.

Cancel Culture: The modern-day Pharisees

Small fringe individuals in our society have taken it upon themselves to act as the moral arbiters of what is concerned ‘right and wrong’. There’s no open voting process on the criteria on the level of egregiousness, no formal court system established, or an appointed impartial judge who will preside over a fair hearing.

Read: Talkers and Doers

If you’re found guilty, the “canceling” process will begin and once the ruling has been handed down, there is no appealing the decision. All decisions are final, and you are then ousted out of society, labeled as “factionless”, and are no longer welcomed as a member of “society”. You will be shamed until you walk out of the proverbial societal door. Nobody wants to be kicked out of society, so begrudgingly most will keep silent and abide by these new rules.

Cancel culture is similar in how the group of Pharisees in John 8:1-11 acted towards a woman caught in adultery. In John 8: 1-11 tells of this situation when Jesus went to the Mount of Olives,

2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Be the forgiver and not the accuser

The ‘law’ at that time was to stone the man and woman who committed an act of adultery. What is key about John 8 is the following verse: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (7)  Now Jesus wasn’t hard or soft on sin when he asked this question. He was asking a very simple, yet powerful question about “who” can judge sinners. Jesus said that the one who is without sin can begin the rock-throwing, but no one was sinless in the group would step up and throw the first rock.

Now Read This:  Christian Manhood without Love

Here’s the thing. We humans all sin and are incredibly flawed. None of us is without sin, but Jesus is perfect, sinless, and unblemished. Many of us are so quick to judge and condemn our neighbor for a variety of reasons when we should be looking inward into our hearts and find the grace to forgive our neighbor.

The test Jesus was putting forward was this: Be the forgiver and not the accuser.   

The Pharisees lacked forgiveness for the woman who committed adultery. They were so quick to accuse her of sin that they failed to see their own shortcomings. We humans are so eager to accuse others of being sinful that we fail to recognize our own sinful ways. Each and every one of us falls short of deserving God’s grace and forgiveness. It’s so easy to point out our neighbors’ sins and forget that we have our own glaring weakness.

However, God is so merciful and loving, that He has forgiven us for our sin. However, if we cannot forgive our neighbors, why should we expect God to forgive us? John 8 is so important for us to learn why we should forgive others rather than accuse them of sins. We see the character of Christ toward sinners who break the commands of God and the freedom that comes by accepting His grace. We must extend this same grace to sinners around us.

Cancel culture goes against the character of Christ. As Christians, we should be the forgiver and not the accuser. Secular culture will always be in the business of accusing and destroying those who have sinned because of its obsession with gaining views, clicks, likes, and going viral on social media. Cancel culture represents the worst of human nature that is devoid of Christ.

Cancel Culture and the Lack of Forgiveness

As born again Christians, we are called to embody the character of Christ and boldly be countercultural against the rising tide of cancel culture. We need to be careful and not get swept by the tide of cancel culture by participating in this mob mentality. Cancel culture is fundamentally destructive, dangerous, and unChristlike.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS

  1. Was there a time where you had a difficult time forgiving someone who hurt you? What did God show you? What did you learn about this situation?
  2. Sometimes we want others to feel our hurt, and accusing and not extending our forgiveness seems to make us feel better. I mean, they don’t deserve our forgiveness, right? We may feel accusing them is justified, but the fact is it only provides temporary relief of our pain. Why do you think it’s so hard for us to forgive others?
  3. Forgiving others is much more than just forgetting what the person did. It’s letting go of anger. When looking back, have you really let go of the anger you had towards those who hurt you? Or are you just forgetting what they did?
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