Why Christians Should Choose Forgiveness over Cancel Culture
- Aaron D'Anthony Brown Contributing Author
- Updated May 07, 2021
Since the year 2020, I have become increasingly aware of politics. Businesses who sell such products ranging from shampoo to clippers to soda have come out in favor of certain politicians. Every time I listen to the news, someone is bashing someone else simply for having a different perspective. Sadly, the hate and politicization witnessed on television has spilled into my everyday living. People in my social circles have also picked up their axes, and anyone who disagrees – let’s just hope they keep their opinions to themselves.
With more and more lines being drawn in the sand, as a Christian I’ve had to ask myself some important questions.
How can I continue to love those who spread hate?
Can I role model love for those around me, no matter our political differences?
Where is my focus: being loving or being right?
These questions help remind me of my priorities as a Christian. As Jesus so effectively outlined, the greatest deeds I can perform as a Christian are through love (Matthew 22:35-40). First, I am to love God, and secondly, I am to love others. More specifically, I am to love other people as I love myself.
This has become especially important when considering what people are calling “cancel culture.” Even the name sounds a bit ominous. Remember the axes I said people are taking up? Well, those axes are not just for show.
The lines are being drawn in the sand because people are being very strict about their social circles. Do anything that causes conflict, and you will be on the opposite side of that line. The issue with this approach is that everyone does something to cause conflict (Romans 3:23). Yet, only certain people get canceled.
Whether on social media, at work, or in social clubs – wherever there are people in today’s America – there is the potential for cancel culture. And where there is cancel culture, there is lack of love.
What Is Cancel Culture?
Despite what some say, cancel culture is not all that complicated, especially coming from a Christian perspective.
The perception that proponents of cancel culture give revolves around ideas of accountability and handing people due consequences for their actions. People are told to take responsibility for the bad things they do in the present and things they did in the past, even years ago.
Common examples are tweets of famous people “resurfacing” and them having to apologize.
As Christians, we know that all of us have sinned and made mistakes. Apologizing is a part of healing our relationships, as is repenting. All of this seems far enough.
Though the reality of cancel culture is much darker. As is often the case, people targeted by cancel culture have done wrong, but only what qualifies as wrong by a specific group of people. Therefore, the offense could be as simple as having a different opinion. People are not canceled for heinous acts such as murder or rape, instead, it is simply for thinking differently.
In the cases of “resurfaced” tweets, what this means is that someone took the effort to search for that information and then bring attention to that. Though most apologize for whatever they said in the past, the end result is usually a ruined reputation. They may be smeared with such labels as racist, transphobic, homophobic; the list goes on.
Christians are not exempt from cancel culture. We could be on the receiving end or asked to participate. Then we will have to make a decision: to rebuke cancel culture or participate.
Should Christians Participate in Cancel Culture?
This should be an easy question for Christians to consider. Honestly, this should be an easy question for anyone. Let’s ask the question anyway – should Christians participate in cancel culture?
In order to answer, we should first examine the idea of sin. Jesus gave us a great definition:
“So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.” (James 4:17)
Surely, we can all relate to knowing the right thing to do and still choosing wrong. While this is certainly true of us as children, the same doesn’t stop being true as adults. Scripture gives us the definition of sin and gives us another truth – everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23).
If everyone is a sinner then everyone has made mistakes. We each have our own skeletons in the closet or baggage that we carry through life. How many of us feel like we lived our lives perfectly, making no mistakes, and have nothing we wish we could redo?
It Is Not Our Place to Punish, but to Forgive
Thus, when cancel culture says, “your past actions can and will be held against you,” Jesus says something like, “I can and will forgive you.”
Cancel culture does not promote forgiveness, but punishment. Punishment, though dealt by God through judgment, is not something He calls for us to take out against others. He wants us to forgive and not hold the past against them. While we witness this truth in the second greatest commandment, there are other verses in Scripture specifically talking about forgiveness.
“And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” (Ephesians 4:32)
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing.” (Mark 11:25)
If we are digging into someone’s past, we are not forgiving. If we are seeking to punish others for transgressions, we are not forgiving. If we don’t forgive others (God’s other children), then what can we expect God to do with us?
Christians should without a doubt not participate in cancel culture. We should not seek to minimize someone’s wrongdoing, but we shouldn’t seek to maximize their mistakes either. What is in the past is in the past. Isn’t that what we prefer for ourselves?
People change and grow, hopefully, just like we do. Sometimes past offenses are egregious. We can recognize that without condemning them. Have they learned from their mistakes? That’s a question to ask.
While cancel culture remains prominent today, we as Christians can erase those lines in the sand. Our duty is to love others, and we should do so to the best of our ability. There is no love without forgiveness on this fallen Earth.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/No-Mad
Aaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”