“Cancel culture” has arrived. Cancel culture is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles because of something they have said or written or because of personal beliefs that are met with disapproval. Cancel culture is not limited to people; it also applies to books, songs, movies, and political views that a segment of society has judged to be unacceptable or even harmful. Dr. Seuss and Gone with the Wind are just two such victims. Cancel culture has caused politicians and celebrities to be banned from Twitter because of public positions and has led to calls for boycotts of states and cities and corporations because of “incorrect” policies or laws.
The purpose of cancel culture is to silence people whose ideas and viewpoints don’t meet with the approval of self-appointed guardians of social standards. But it’s really nothing new. Totalitarian governments, social and religious warriors, and political extremists have used the same tactics to silence opposing ideas for centuries.
Christianity has had to deal with cancel culture since its beginning. Opponents of the gospel have not simply condemned the teachings of God’s Word; they have also sought to silence anyone who proclaims God’s truth. Jesus spent his entire ministry hounded by religious leaders who wanted nothing more than for him to be quiet.
After Pentecost, when Peter and John publicly confessed Jesus as the Messiah, the Jewish leaders responded by ordering them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John would not be canceled. They said, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). One apostle after another lost his life for refusing to be silenced or canceled, but they continued to preach the good news.
Faithful proclamation of God’s Word has always been met by those who want to cancel or silence God’s messengers. It’s no different for the church today. Salvation by grace alone is dismissed as being irrelevant. When the church faithfully teaches that human life begins at conception and that the taking of that life is murder, cancel culture leaps to muzzle God’s truth by labeling the church as backward in its thinking and unsupportive of women. When we preach God’s teaching that marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, cancel culture tries to label Christians as haters and bigots.
Not just the church, but individual Christians are often targets of the cancel culture. Maybe it’s happened in the workplace. Perhaps you’ve had friends “unfriend” you. You may have even faced cancellation by your own family members.
In the face of all of these attempts to silence God’s truth, remember God’s promise: “[My Word] will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). When Satan’s allies try to cancel us and our beliefs, we can say with the apostles, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” When we state our beliefs lovingly and are accused of being closed-minded haters, pray that God will give us the courage and a faith that refuse to bow to a bullying culture. When our beliefs make us unpopular with the world, say with the apostle Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
Remember: With God’s help and the power of his Word, cancel culture itself can be canceled.
Author: Mark Schroeder
Volume 108, Number 6
Issue: June 2021