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Cancel Culture: The Symptom of a Sin Infection

This week, my social media pages have been bombarded with posts about something called the "Cancel Culture"--or a cultural movement of removing anything and everything that said cancel culture finds offensive. I, personally, am exhausted by all of these posts and declarations of "freedom of speech"--not because I do not agree with that sentiment. I definitely believe that, as our constitution has already declared, we do have the freedom to express ourselves in ways that may or may not be offensive to another person (after all, we cannot make everyone happy and even a heart-felt encouraging sentiment can be viewed as offensive to some people). 

But what exhausts me is the refusal to recognize or even consider the possibility that there is something deeper at work. Consider for a moment the possibility that this desire to cancel offensive things is actually the symptom of a larger illness--one that society refuses to treat or even acknowledge as a real problem. 

Let us consider another issue. Imagine a toddler comes to you with an infected splinter in her hand. She's crying because the thing hurts--there is puss oozing out of it, but upon examination, you realize that the splinter is barbed and isn't coming out on its own. So, the option is to (1) dig into the finger with a needle and tweezers and pull the splinter out manually or (2) slap a band-aid on it and call it good. The problem with the first option that this is a toddler we are talking about. It doesn't matter if you are trying to help her, the child will kick and scream and declare that you are a big meanie who is trying to hurt her. Removing a splinter from a child like that is not going to be an easy task and, a struggling child can sometimes (okay, most of the time) end up punching you in the face by accident simply because she is scared. The problem with the second option is that the band-aid does nothing to actually get rid of the splinter and the child's infection will continue to get worse and worse until it causes even bigger issues. 

So, in this analogy, which option is the cancel culture? Well, that is a trick question. The answer is: Neither. In this analogy, the image of cancel culture is the puss in the infection--it is attempting to rid the child of the splinter but without success and ultimately causing an unpleasant sight. It even often will look as though it is the infection itself--but ultimately it is the body's attempt to fix the deeper issue. The problem is that the splinter is barbed and the puss, although a natural bodily response, is useless in this instance... because, while it is trying to force out the splinter by pouring more and more puss into the situation, ultimately that splinter is there to stay until a competent adult learns that you can't just leave it and that placing a band-aid on the situation will just result in more puss. 

Let's take away the analogy again. There is sin in our world--let's narrow it down to one sin: Racism. That is not to say that is the only sinful infection, but it is definitely one infection. Over the course of this past year, cancel culture has spotted the infection and poured puss around that splinter by removing statues, censoring movies, and boycotting businesses. Now, this option is not entirely a bad one--but ultimately is solves nothing (in this case). The cultural response to cancel offensive or sinful things is not new--and I would actually argue that it is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Ancient Israel canceled pagan worship on multiple occasions. Religious Jewish leaders partnered up with Political idealist Romans and cancelled Jesus by crucifying him and hoping that his followers would stop talking about him. Romans attempted to cancel Christianity on more than one occasion when they persecuted Christians and threw them into pits of lions or dipped them in oil and lit them on fire. The Salam witch trials cancelled anything they perceived to be witchcraft (including being left-handed or having the ability to swim). Society, from the beginning of time, has tried to cancel anything they deemed different or threatening--good and bad. That is what humanity does--when there is a splinter in its body. And sometimes, cancelling the issue was a positive thing. For example, the Jewish holocaust. Society was unaccepting of the genocide of the Jewish people and cancelled the Nazi party. It is now completely unacceptable to have a swastica on your clothing--and you WILL get dirty looks (if not beat up) if you do wear one in public. But other times, cancel culture does little to improve the situation--because the puss is dealing with a barbed splinter, and all anyone sees is the puss instead of the bigger problem. 

So back to racism. Like I said, cancel culture boycotted, tore down, and censored racist and insensitive things--but the toddler (society) is freaking out because it sees the puss and thinks that it is icky. And there are now two groups of people trying to help the child. The first group sees the splinter and points it out to the child. "Hey, there is sin here. There is a racist culture in our society that needs to be addressed, removed, and healed. Why don't we go to your daddy (God) and have him take that splinter out for you."--but the toddler doesn't want to hear that. Why? Because it requires poking, prodding, and maybe even--God forbid--blood. It won't be pleasant and so it freaks out even more. "No! Don't touch it! It's okay, it doesn't hurt that bad! Don't touch it. It will hurt! I hate you! You're a big ol' meanie who just wants to hurt me!" and the other group is sitting there watching and saying, "You can't heal that! Only God can heal that. Who are you to point that out? We should just put a band-aid on it, shut her up, and call it good!" 

We have had groups of people calling out the sin--protesting the sin and bringing it into the light. But society is throwing a fit because it is afraid of having to change--it is afraid of that splinter getting removed. And because no one likes a toddler fit, other groups of people are doing everything they possibly can to just shut the child up. Let's create Black History Month to commemorate the accomplishments of the black community--that will shut them up about their oppression. Let's start to celebrate Juneteenth and use this day to speak out against the slavery of the black community--that will shut them up. That is not to say that these memorials are terrible things, but without the removal of the splinter, at the very best, they are nothing more than a band-aid attempt to hide the racism in our society--and little by little, the infection continues to fester under the surface to later rear its ugly head after the band-aid inevitably wears out and falls off--revealing a bigger, more disgusting infection than was originally covered.

The fact is that we can go on and on and on about "Cancel Culture"--but it is not the problem. It is nothing more than the natural reaction of society to get rid of anything that is causing pain. What we really should be outraged about is the sin that is causing the "puss" of cancel culture to surface. We should be addressing the splinter--not covering it up or whining about puss. 

Issues such as racism, sexism, sexual abuse, addiction--these are all issues that need to be addressed instead of covered up. Cancel culture will continue to try to get rid of whatever it is that triggers the pain, but until we get rid of the source, cancelling will continue to occur. Call out issues of racism--stop tolerating racially insensitive comments or jokes. Call out issues of sexism--stop tolerating limitations and abuse toward people just because of their sex. Call out sexual abuse--stop sweeping it under the rug and hold guilty parties accountable. Call out addictions--substance and otherwise--stop hiding it and seek healing. Because until the SIN is removed, cancel culture will remain. Until SIN is removed, that wound will continue to fester and get worse. 

This year, we were outraged by the protests and riots--we should have been outraged by the racist actions, comments, and rulings. This year, we were outraged by the cancelling of Ravi Zacharias when we should have been outraged by the fact that he spent years abusing is his power by abusing the women around him. This year, we have been outraged by the puss when we should have been outraged by the splinter. Stop being outraged by the cancelling, and instead be outraged by the sin behind it. After all, Cancel Culture is nothing more than a symptom of a sin infection--get rid of the sin, get rid of the infection, get rid of the cancelling.

Let's stop covering up sin with a band-aid and let us instead approach our father to remove the splinter. It is time to seek authentic healing.  



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