I’m old enough to remember how upsetting it was to have a favorite television show cancelled mid-season. For some reason, the networks cared more about ratings than my personal preferences! Fast forward and today a person is more likely to be “cancelled” than any entertainment vehicle. Your kids are immersed in a culture that seeks to “cancel” or destroy the reputation and often livelihood of anyone who doesn’t meet their standards. Who “they” are is a bit fuzzy, but with enough social media traction, “they” have the power to destroy a person’s life in less than a week.
Cancel culture can be tricky to explain to kids. We should want to encourage each other to be more godly and discourage others from disobeying God. There are also a few people in this world who are so toxic that being around them for long periods of time can encourage your kids to disobey and even reject God. Yet is cancel culture really biblical? What do you need to teach your kids about “cancelling” other people?
- God wants your kids to love their neighbors as themselves and treat others as they would like to be treated. Would they want those who disagree with them about something to not only avoid them, but encourage others to avoid them and destroy their reputations and (eventually) careers? Cancel culture seeks to hurt those who disagree with “their” standards. There is no love for those being canceled.
- God believes in forgiveness and commands Christians to forgive others. Ultimately, cancel culture is about punishment and revenge. While God will mete out justice in the end, He makes room for people to learn and grow from their mistakes. When they repent, God forgives them and expects us to do so, too. Cancel culture rarely forgives those who offend it in some way.
- God believes in redemption. Christianity is based in part on the idea that humans are capable of making drastic positive changes in their lives with God’s help. Cancel culture assumes everyone who does something “wrong” by their standards – even many years ago – is unredeemable.
- Vengeance is for God, not people to use. Romans 12:19 is abundantly clear on the topic and it’s not the only verse addressing it. God doesn’t want Christians to avenge themselves – ever. Cancel culture is all about vengeance against people who have violated its standards.
- Right and wrong is determined by God, not by those who can manipulate social media the best. Cancel culture by definition has a variable moral compass, because it is based on the current culture and not God’s unchanging truths. The ironic thing about those who practice cancel culture is that they themselves would have been cancelled in the past and may very well be cancelled in the future when they disagree with someone more media savvy than themselves.
- God should always be the Lord of our lives, not our emotions or thoughts. Cancel culture has an underlying assumption that the person doing the cancelling is perfect. Their emotions and thoughts are always correct. They are not only smarter than everyone else, they are smarter than God.
- Christians need to be careful to share the Gospel and serve everyone, but choose close friends who help them be more godly – not encourage them to sin. There is always a tendency to do the polar opposite of something that is wrong, like cancel culture. The problem is that your kids are too young and their faith too weak to accept people into their inner circle who will encourage them to sin. They shouldn’t cancel the people who don’t meet the standard of friends who will help them be more godly, however. They should still treat them with love and kindness, while serving them and sharing their faith. That is what will help people become who God wants them to be….not cancelling.
The great irony of cancel culture is that those who practice it will often speak of how they were scarred by churches who were “too rigid” and “judgmental”, yet they have become the very thing they are supposedly protesting. Teach your kids how to help people change by loving and teaching them – not treating them like a societal reject.