What would Jesus say to individuals involved in the Cancel Culture Movement? What would He say to those Canceled because of it?
What is meant by the terms ‘Canceled’ and ‘the Cancel Culture Movement’?
Canceled refers to an individual who has said or done something considered objectionable or offensive followed by a public withdrawal of support, resulting in a group publicly shaming them.
Cancel Culture is the process of expressing disapproval, exerting social pressure, and public shaming by a group.
Individuals or groups may express their disapproval when someone has said or done something considered objectable or offensive.
Pressure is applied through social connections to make the individual aware of their actual or perceived offense.
Often public shame is used by the group to punish the offending individual.
The Cancel Culture Movement is the continuous canceling of individuals without an expressed purpose or end goal in mind.
How can we be confident of what Jesus would say today to the Cancel Culture Movement?
First, the Cancel Culture Movement is not new.
We live in a culture that thrives on publicly shaming people for real and perceived failures and missteps.
“Although it might seem like a recent phenomenon, cancel culture has been described as a modern form of ostracism – an Ancient Greek practice dating back over two thousand years that saw an individual sent into exile for a decade due to the results of a popular vote.”
Second, there is an account of Jesus interacting with a Cancel Culture mob expressing disapproval, exerting social pressure, and the group publicly shaming an individual.
We know what Jesus would say to the Cancel Culture Movement based on what He has already said.
In John 8, we see the three characteristics of modern cancel culture described.
The religious leaders expressed their disapproval to Jesus when they brought a woman caught in the act of adultery. They sought Jesus’ approval to cancel her life by stoning her.
The religious leaders exerted social pressure. They didn’t ask this privately. Instead, they made this a public confrontation that everyone could see and hear.
The religious leaders and crowd made a public spectacle of shaming the woman. It is unlikely that her modesty was a concern of her accusers. She was, after all, caught in the act and brought forcefully to Jesus.
Before Jesus spoke to the Cancel Culture, he did something unusual.
The religious leaders, the crowd, and the canceled woman waited to hear what Jesus would say. Instead, he knelt and drew in the sand.
The religious leaders grew impatient and demanded an answer.
What Did Jesus say to the Cancel Culture Movement that he encountered In John 8?
Jesus stood up and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned cast the first stone!”
Jesus would make this same statement to the Cancel Culture Movement. Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.
Then he knelt and began to write in the dust. One by one, the accusers left the scene. (Some scholars suggest that Jesus was writing the sins of the accusers in the sand.)
But Jesus wasn’t done addressing the Cancel Culture. Jesus had something to say to the Canceled, and he said it while standing in the middle of the crowd that remained.
The man she committed adultery with was nowhere to be found, but Jesus remained with her.
What did Jesus say to the woman canceled by the religious leaders?
Jesus asked her, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them (stay too) condemn you?
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.” Grace was offered rather than judgment. She expected punishment but instead received forgiveness.
And then he commanded her to, “Go and sin no more.’ Jesus did indicate that she needed to change her behavior. He held her accountable for her future actions.
Jesus loved the canceled. He dealt with those that society frowned on. Tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, the sick, and the immigrant. He dealt with those who acknowledged their past failures and made amends. He dealt with those amid their sin, allowing them to change.
What would Jesus say to you today?
If others have canceled you, remember that Jesus does not condemn you.
He knows when the accusations against you are false. He understands the deep hurt that you feel while being declared guilty when you are innocent of wrongdoing. (He has personal experience with this.)
He knows where you have blown it, acknowledged it, and requested forgiveness. Unlike the Cancel Culture, he will not hold your past failures against you. He offers grace instead of condemnation.
But not only does he forgive and restore us, but He also empowers us to lead a changed life. Instead of being canceled, we are renewed.
Call to Action
Maybe you have been canceled or have canceled someone else. Now is the time to take steps to heal or repair those you may have hurt.