By now the phrase cancel culture has become a household name. The name in and of itself seems innocuous and, if you did not know any better you might think it refers to the rate at which TV shows are canceled only after a few seasons. If only this was the extent of its application. Cancel culture is defined as, the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure. (Merriam Webster) The Cambridge Dictionary explained it in this fashion: a way of behaving in a society or group, especially on social media, in which it is common to completely reject and stop supporting someone because they have said or done something that offends you. This toxic concept has taken the world by storm and many have suffered at the hands of cancel culture warriors. Yet are we surprised at the popularity of this trend considering that many in our society are offended by virtually everything? These days one can be “canceled” for saying that there are only two genders or that men don’t have a menstrual cycle! These are basic facts concerning human anatomy, but because it offends some these simple truths must be stopped and its proclaimers must be canceled. Popular as it may be, cancel culture is certainly not new. Canceling someone or something because one was offended is a practice that has been around for a long time.
When King Ahab sought to go to war with Syria, he met with Jehoshaphat to lobby for support in the matter (1 Kings 22:1-4). However, Jehoshaphat desired to inquire of the Lord by His prophets before making a decision (1 Kings 22:5-7). Ahab was against the prophet of the Lord Micaiah because he was offended by his message. …I hate him because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil, 1 Kings 22:8. Keep in mind Micaiah was preaching God’s Word; what was said proceeded from the Upright One, the Righteous One the One who speaks the truth and cannot lie (Titus 1:2). As is the case with many today, Ahab was offended by the truth concerning his actions. Hence, Ahab’s response to Micaiah was to “cancel” him. ‘…Thus says the king: “Put this fellow in prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and water of affliction, until I come in peace,” 1 Kings 22:27. Another Jewish monarch who also hated the truth was Jehoiakim. When the truth was read aloud in his presence, he cut it up and burned it. And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth, Jeremiah 36:23. But burning the scrolls was not enough for this offended king. He commanded that Jeremiah and other prophets be captured and put in prison (Jeremiah 36:26).
The cancel culture trend was very prevalent in Israel’s history, but it reached its zenith when the Word of Truth came to earth (John 1:1-3). While on His earthly ministry Jesus said and did many things that were contrary to the popular culture of the day. One might say He spoke “truth to power” with great power (Cf. Matthew 23 & John 7:45-46). The cancel culture warriors of the day wasted no time in trying to silence our Lord. They vigorously plotted against Him (Matthew 12:14) they sought every opportunity to trap Him in wrongdoing (Matthew 19:3) and they maligned his Holy Character (Luke 11:15). In a desperate attempt to stop his popularity and preaching of truth they even threatened to cancel those whom Jesus helped (John 9:22). Ultimately, they managed to convince his own familiar friend to betray Him to death (Cf. Psalm 49:9 & Mark 15:15-15).
The dangerous nature of this current trend is seen in its relentless pursuit of a world free from that which offends, especially the truth. Once Jesus was dead, did they rest, did they calm their pursuit, did they say that satisfied our offense? No, they persecuted the followers of the Lord from that time till today for the same thing over which they killed the Lord, speaking the truth.
Cancel culture cannot be satiated; it will devour everyone who comes in its path and when there are none left it will turn inward and eat its own. In our society people are being censored on an unprecedented scale, truth is being suppressed under the guise of tolerance and a desire to stop “misinformation.”
How long before the cancel culture warriors turn their attention to the church, how long before our congregations are censored and canceled for speaking Thus saith the Lord? What will we do, how will we respond? Will we like many corporations and people cower in fear and submit to the desires of the offended? Will we caution our preachers to tone it down or will we stop broadcasting “controversial” truths altogether? When Jehoiakim burned the scroll, God told Jeremiah to write another one (Jeremiah 36:28) when Micaiah was threatened with prison he did not refrain from speaking truth (1 Kings 22:28) and when the Lord and many of his followers gazed death in the face, they did not deny the truth (John 18:37 &Acts 4:20) It is my prayer and hope that we would respond in the same fashion. We ought to let the world know that the truth of God cannot be silenced, as long as there is breath in our lungs, we will proclaim the Gospel of Christ and even in the face of certain death, we will not be canceled!