What do you do when you lose the support of those around you because of their intolerance of what you believe, speak or act? What do you do when your beliefs and outward expression of them expose you to public shaming? In other words, how do we live in a cancelation culture? Cancelation itself is not new, I suppose. We could think back on the McCarthy trials of the 1950s and see individuals effectively “canceled,” most notably from the film industry, because of their leftist political views. Yet even while looking back on this chapter with regret, we perpetuate the practice for those espousing views more to the right. (It is a bit ironic.) Though social media has broadened its reach, social silencing is not new.
What have changed to some degree in contemporary culture are the mores we venerate and those we persecute. Ethical standards will always exist, and people will remain judgmental toward those who offend them. Yet in some ways to some people, God’s Word has become less foundational to the understanding and acceptance of what is right and true. The exclusivity of the gospel—“No one comes to the Father but through me”1, 2—and Biblical authority on human sexuality, for instance, have become passe in the minds of many and offensive to others. Isaiah’s prophetic warnings resound still today to all who will hear them: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”3
How then do we live before the prospects of personal humiliation and cancelation? Our natural tendencies might lead us to one or both of two ill-advised extremes: cowing into submission for conditional acceptance, or standing up for righteousness in an unrighteous way. God would have us do neither. Rather, we remain focused on His Word, speaking it and relying on its power and truth, for “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.”4 We stand firm in the perpetual promise of Jesus, “Blessed are those who are persecuted,”5 and go forth in this companion command from Paul, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”6 And in all circumstances, we remain “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”7
Keep praying. Keep believing. Keep speaking. Keep loving.
“Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.”8 —Jesus, to the disciples
Father, send your Spirit of truth today, that we would remember Your Word; strengthen us also through Him, that we would be bold and remain faithful to You. In Christ we pray. Amen.
1 John 14:6
2 See also Acts 4:12
3 Isaiah 5:20 NASB
4 Psalm 19:7
5 Matthew 5:10
6 Romans 12:14
7 2 Timothy 2:1
8 John 15:20 ESV