Author’s note: This is the fourth article in the series, “How to be a Biblically ‘woke’ Christian”
“You’re canceled!” are words many people have heard over the past few years for committing various cultural and political sins. While some of the reasons for canceling are legitimate reasons someone should not be given or allowed to retain a platform or be taken seriously (such as racist ideology or sexually abusive language or actions), there are also many other instances of people being shunned and shamed for saying or doing things that, until recent years, have been considered normal, such as saying that sin (as defined by the Bible) is wrong, that science is real (as in, males are males and females are females, and are intended to mate and reproduce with the opposite gender), or that a person should be respected no matter what color of skin they have or gender they are (as in dismissing people’s opinions just because they have white skin and are male).
What’s most concerning about “cancel culture” though is not the hair-trigger of a society waiting to cancel anyone for anything. It’s the fact there’s no place for redemption. Culture’s mindset is “once canceled, always canceled.” This does two things. The first is that it creates fear in people’s minds – fear that one wrong comment/post/Tweet or hasty action will effectively end their relationships, jobs, and future. While we should all be careful what we say and do, the hyper-sensitivity and unforgiving nature of the cancel culture can be terrifying. The second thing cancel culture does is attempt to remove the message and example of redemption from our society and minds.
The theme of redemption is long-beloved by religious and non-religious people alike. All you have to do is watch a movie or read and book to find a redemption story of rags to riches, bad to good, lost to found, etc. Collectively, we love redemption, to the point it’s as if the desire for it were implanted in our very souls … because it is. Ever since the first man and woman lived and sinned in the Garden of Eden, the story of redemption has been both desired and played out in the history of mankind. Of course, this story reached its crescendo in the First Century when the God-man, Jesus Christ, was executed on a Roman cross, effectively bearing the just punishment for the sins of man that we should have to bear, and making a way for us to be redeemed. Paul the Apostle says this in Colossians 3:13-14, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (emphasis mine)
This story of redemption found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the only canceling we should really be concerning ourselves with, is attacked and obfuscated by our current cancel culture. As humans, we need to know that redemption is possible – in relation to both God and our fellow man. We need to know that second chances are available, and that as a society we can all relate to failing (because we all do it all the time) and can therefore extend understanding and forgiveness when necessary and appropriate. We need to all get Biblically woke and start telling people about how instead of people being canceled by culture, sin was canceled on the cross.