The End of Cancel Culture

Looking around America, we constantly see stories of “cancellation.” It is not a good kind either. Cancel Culture has emerged as the new vehicle of extreme hatred. If someone disagrees with what has been said, no matter how innocuous, the Cancel Culture Warriors have decided that that person or persons must lose their job, exist in mediocrity, and suffer for the sins of their “mistake.” So, how do we handle it as Christians?

But isn’t that the same oppression experienced those who perpetrate so-called Cancel Culture? Isn’t the plight of these individuals that they have been hurt by America and so, this is their retaliatory action? Oppression is the use of force, coercion, or authority to constrain the freedom of another.[1] The Apostle Paul says, repay not evil with evil.[2] So, how should Christians approach this culture of sabotage? Should we equally try to cancel those who cancel us?

If we continue looking at the passage of Romans 12, the Apostle goes on to tell us not only not to repay evil, but as far as is possible, live at peace with all men. This is key. Because the critical phrase here is εἰ δυνατόν, translated if possible. Be at peace with all men, if possible-never take revenge. Is there a peaceful way to approach cancel culture?

A peaceful approach to cancel culture depends on the magnitude of the event. If one person is seeking to “cancel” you, then go ahead and set up a one-on-one with that person or persons. Be quick to hear and slow to speak… because the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God.[3] Find out what the issues are; ask lots of questions. Find the offense and try to assuage it as much as you can. Many Christians may find this approach difficult and repugnant. However, I ask you, “will Christ fault you for trying to peaceably end a quarrel with another person?” Answer carefully. The man who once turned over the money-changers table, often first tries diplomacy before resulting in righteous indignation.

Should you find no peaceable way to end the issue or the offenders are too many to even attempt (consider carefully), then how should a Christian address the cancel culture? A current event gives us a clear understanding.

John MacArthur, the Pastor of Grace Community Church, faces similar issues today. California Governor Gavin Newsom seeks to unfairly quiet Churches while allowing riots and allowing prisoners to go free, due to the CCP Virus, COVID-19. In the wake of this, John MacArthur has issued no belligerent, hateful statement toward the Governor. Yet, clearly, calmly, and eloquently (and publicly) speaks his concern to all who will hear.

Christian, this is a model for us. Paul reminds us in Philippians 1:12-20 that persecution often brings about a greater awareness to the Gospel and the things of God. There is little question that the Church has generally flourished in the face of opposition. So, in the face of Cancel Culture, be sure to state your issue clearly, and in a manner of which Christ would approve. You do not need to become a doormat, mousey, or anything similar to this. But, this is an instance where Christianity should be bold, vibrant, authentic, and eloquent in its appeal and apologetic to the onlooking world. When people look to “cancel” you for your Christianity, simply proclaim the truth with more courage and strength.

The formula is simple, yet difficult. We often know what we should do but we allow our emotions to take hold of us and point us in a direction that is out of step with the Lord’s demands on our life. Yes, Christ says, if any man wishes to follow Him, he must deny himself, take up His cross, and follow.

If you are ever at a loss of how one should handle the cancel culture, look to the cross for your inspiration. In Christ’s submission; Paul’s submission; Peter’s submission, the world sought to cancel them. However, their bold declaration (while still seeking to maintain peace where possible) was a bold and glaring witness against the world and its antics. Be Christian in all that we do, for persecution for Christ has been promised to you.[4]

As for the oppression claimed by those who perpetuate this movement? Let us look again at the activity or inactivity of the Church. We should in no way submit to their demands, but we should make sure we highlight where the Church has been active in the world and society. We should remind them just where the Church has invested in the culture. We should also remember that today is a different day, and those who decry certain ideologies know no other way. Have mercy on them, for they themselves are oppressed by sin. And this is all the result of sin. Destroying lives, punishing godly ideals? This is just another facet of Satan and the committed activity of fallen man.

Don’t be surprised by sin; rebuke it, with patience.

Correct it with the Gospel and sound doctrine.

Outlast it with the love of Christ.

[1]              Grenz, Stanley J., and Jay T. Smith. Pocket Dictionary of Ethics. The IVP Pocket Reference Series. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

[2]              Rom 12:17

[3]              James 1:19-20

[4]              Philippians 1:29