Friday, February 19, 2021 : By Cherise Arnott
The disheartening effects of cancel culture are only just beginning, and if conservatives, moderates, and liberals do not take a stand soon, it will destroy our freedom as we know it.
For years now, we have seen the calls for silencing balanced and rational voices, but the force and the means of cancelling are only getting stronger, the consequences harsher, and the “crimes” more absurd. The culture has taken on a mob-like mentality and those who engage in this mob require full loyalty without blemish.
Individuals from academia, celebrities, writers, social media influencers, and members of online knitting groups have all been canceled, some for simply questioning the ever-changing mainstream definition of what is considered acceptable. The so-called crimes may range from supporting former President Trump to taking a stance on the scientific biological differences between males and females to questioning the safety or efficacy of COVID-19 vaccinations to simply using a “wrong” word. The consequence of such a crime begins with public shaming and quickly escalates to the cancellation of the individual — they lose their job, their livelihood, their life’s reputation, and sometimes the affection of friends and family.
Even those who bend the knee to the mob are at risk of being cancelled for things said or done. An example is the recent case of Chris Harrison, who discovered that encouraging grace and compassion and condemning the cancel culture will also get you cancelled. Harrison has been the host of the popular TV show “The Bachelor: for 19 years, but he recently spoke out against cancel culture, saying, “We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion.” This came in response to intense scrutiny of a show contestant who had attended an Antebellum-themed fraternity party more than three years ago. Harrison did not come to her defense directly, but instead encouraged the audience to be understanding of her reasoning and what the political tone looked like at the time. “This judge, jury, executioner thing, where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart,” Harrison said, as he sympathized with the contestant and refused to condone the reaction of the cancel mob who were going so far as to research what images the contestant had “liked” on social media and attempted to find her parents’ voting records.
Of course, he received incredible backlash following these statements, but instead of standing firm in his principles, Harrison gave in to the mob. He published a formal, groveling apology. It didn’t matter, though — he got canceled anyway, forced to step down from his role as TV host, his longstanding career gone in an instant.
Apologizing to the mob only makes the mob stronger. No one is safe in this dangerous game of destroying people, not even the mob itself. At some point, it will come for us all. It will attack our actions or our words, past or present, in private or in public. It does not matter which political party one identifies with, as we saw with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who had her name removed from an elementary school, along with Abraham Lincoln and others, when the San Francisco School Board decided to change the names of 44 schools because of “wrong-minded” decisions she made decades ago.
The cancel culture mob shows no partiality, and that fact brings into question our foundational freedoms as a nation. If we are not free to voice our thoughts — even privately — without repercussion, are we free at all?
So what are conservatives and Christians to do about this issue? How do we combat this dangerous game and how can we make a difference in our society? We need to cancel the cancel culture and start building a mercy culture. Here are some four steps we can all take:
We have no obligation to back down or apologize to a worldly mob — no matter how intense the pressure to do so. We must align ourselves with scripture and put on the armor of God, standing in truth unwavering (Ephesians 6:10-20). Do not forsake or belittle truth for appeasement — the mob cannot be appeased. It does not seek compromise, but rather it seeks whole devotion to its ideologies. Christ faced his own mob and He did not compromise on truth or back down in fear. Neither should we.
When it comes to personal discrepancies with others, handle matters privately. If there is wrongdoing that needs addressing, do so discretely, directly, and with grace. Do not post your grievances on social platforms or respond in comments for public viewership. Pick up the phone, or better yet, meet someone in person and talk it out. Use grace and tact when addressing differences and slights, and be mindful that though it’s nice to receive an apology from another, that apology will never fulfill you. Our fulfillment comes from God and thus only He can right wrongdoing. Pray for those who hurt or even torment you. Ask God to work in others’ hearts, and be an example of what He has done in your own heart. Be merciful and compassionate always to others, even when there is every humanly reason not to.
When the cancel culture strikes again, recognize it as an opportunity for a greater, stronger mercy culture to rise and share the forgiving and healing messages of Christ provided in the gospel. In a world filled with such rabid condemnation, we all need to see what a refreshing approach it is to experience true forgiveness and love by our Maker.
The nature of cancel culture comes in direct opposition to the biblical teachings of forgiveness and grace. In the current world where one wrong statement from decades past is enough to erase a lifetime of good work, Christians instead are called to be merciful, as our Father is merciful. We know from Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And it was Jesus Himself who instructed, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7).
The Bible teaches us to be the antithesis of cancel culture and instead to be forgiving to one another. We can see that in the lives of Paul and Zacchaeus, two men who had lived their entire lives persecuting and exploiting others and yet were called by God to become His own. Forgiving them of their immeasurable transgressions, He offered redemption rather than condemnation. This is the call for Christians today: We must extend to others the grace and love seen in the gospel and each do our part to foster a culture of mercy and forgiveness, one that fully reflects the nature of God.