“Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” the Bible tells us.
There is, in fact, an inverse relationship between the waning of Christian influence and the rise of the cancel culture, with all its rules of socially acceptable speech and action that seem to grow by the day.
Jesus Christ opposed the religious and societal leaders in his day, called the Pharisees, because of the burdens of shame they put on people’s backs.
The modern-day Pharisees sit in judgment of America’s past and present.
Former Presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant; American abolitionist Frederick Douglass; and even the new Teen Vogue editor and a would-be cheerleader at the University of Tennessee have all come under their wrath.
I had my own run-in with this mentality while defending founding father Benjamin Franklin against someone on Twitter who demanded Mr. Enlightenment himself must be canceled.
The canceler argued since Franklin had owned slaves prior to the Revolutionary War, everything else he did did not matter.
I pointed out that Franklin, a signer and drafter of the Declaration of Independence, became president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society. That state voted to abolish slavery in 1780, during the Revolutionary War — the first such legislative enactment in America.
None of this mattered to the person I tangled with on Twitter. No repentance, no redemption was possible for Franklin.
That is a sad, bleak way to view others and ultimately yourself, because none of us is without sin.
“That’s just how big God is, and we just want to be on God’s side in this thing, that there’s no such thing as an irredeemable person,” Dr. Michael Maiden, lead pastor of Church of the Nations in Phoenix, told The Western Journal regarding God’s ability to turn a life around.
“Using shame as the weapon is always not just improper, it’s ungodly and it misrepresents God’s heart.”
Jesus went on a long diatribe against the scribes (legal experts) and Pharisees of his day, as recorded in the book of Matthew, for the judgment they meted out against people without mercy.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” Jesus said.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity,” he continued.
“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” Jesus said.
Jesus, who said he was the Son of God, told his followers, “For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
He also taught his disciples to pray, saying, “Forgive us our debts [or trespasses], as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Jesus modeled what this meant many times, including when he restored Peter after the apostle denied knowing him, three times, when Jesus was arrested and faced crucifixion.
Jesus offered the same grace on the road to Damascus to the Pharisee Saul, who became the Apostle Paul, despite how the religious zealot had persecuted the early Christian believers.
“What did Jesus say? He says, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her,'” David Closson, the director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview at the Family Research Council, noted in an interview with The Western Journal.
Everyone who accused the woman left, from the oldest first to the youngest.
The passage of Scripture continues, “Jesus looked up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.'”
Jesus’s approach to those who have sinned is just the opposite of cancel culture, Closson pointed out.
“What is the impulse of cancel culture?” he asked. “The impulse of cancel culture is that there are some people, because of what they believe or because of what they’ve done, are essentially irredeemable.”
“The impulse of Jesus is to lean in to people, to forgive people,” Closson said, adding that their sin should also be acknowledged.
Dr. Frank Turek, a Christian author and an instructor with Summit Ministries, agreed.
“Jesus didn’t cancel people; He canceled their sins,” Turek said.
The teacher provided Colossians 2 as proof of this proposition that Jesus took our sins by hanging on the cross in our stead.
“And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having canceled [emphasis added] the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross,” the Apostle Paul wrote.
Turek argued that it wasn’t Jesus’ way to highlight sins (unless you were a self-righteous Pharisee) and condemn people as the cancel culture does.
“Jesus doesn’t want us to cancel people,” he explained. “He wants us to introduce them to the grace that he offers. That’s really what it’s all about.”
Turek further pointed to a simple application of the “Golden Rule” that Jesus articulated. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” speaks against cancel culture.
“Would you want to be canceled for one tweet you put out or one Instagram post you put up or one opinion that differed from the culture?” he asked.
Maiden believes that cancel culture is “antithetical to the kingdom of God.”
“The idea of cancel culture is the refusal to grant forgiveness and then to deny acceptance, and the Bible says that over and over that in Christ, we’re accepted,” Maiden continued.
“God doesn’t give up on people. He doesn’t throw people away.”
The preacher stated that cancel culture “actually is an evil thing” and “appeals to the worst traits of human nature”: anger, hatred and rage.
“Cancel culture is as opposed to Christianity, the teachings of the Bible, the life of Christ as anything that’s happening now,” Maiden argued.
“We can’t help people that we’re trying to cancel, love people that we’re trying to cancel. And our assignment as Christians is to love people, to heal people, to bring people to Christ and let Christ work in their lives, not to destroy them, not to judge them, not to give up on them.”
“Jesus said to us so beautifully, he said, ‘Love your enemies.’ He said, ‘When someone curses you, don’t curse back. Bless them.’ He said, ‘When someone hurts you, betrays you, wounds you or offends you, forgive them,'” Maiden offered.
“Jesus always was able to declare a powerful truth that was a direct weapon against injustice and oppression, and yet express a love to people.”
“The Bible teaches the truth — the truth will set people free,” Maiden said.
A scene from “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” a 2005 movie installment based on the famous C.S. Lewis book series, illustrates the redemptive, freeing work of Christ well.
Aslan the lion — a type of Christ — agrees to be killed in a boy named Edmund’s place. Edmund had broken the law of Narnia and the White Witch, a character symbolic of all things evil, demanded justice.
The witch strikes Aslan down on top of a sacrificial stone table on which the laws are written.
Lucy and Susan, Edmund’s sisters, find the slain Aslan after the witch did her deed. They mourn his loss, but as they begin to walk, the earth shakes and the table breaks into pieces.
A risen Aslan then appears to their great joy.
“If the witch knew the true meaning of sacrifice, she might have interpreted the deep magic differently,” the lion explains. “That when a willing victim who has committed no treachery is killed in a traitor’s stead, the stone table will crack and even death itself would turn backwards.”
It’s time to turn death backward and cancel the cancel culture. The teachings of Jesus point the way.
Did you know that The Western Journal now publishes some content in Spanish as well as English, for international audiences? Click here to read this article on The Western Journal en Español!
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.