Theology

God Was Canceling People before It Was Cool

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Author Alan Shlemon Published on 08/26/2020

Long before the woke awoke, there was God. He could spot an injustice in an instant or a microaggression a mile away. Despite God’s god-like capacity to dig up dirt on people (and we’re talking really old dirt), current cancel culture is fighting mightily to dethrone God at his own game.

Earlier this summer, Boeing’s 62-year-old communication executive resigned after only six months on the job. Did he violate a company policy? No. Did he break a law earlier in the summer? Nope. Did he commit a crime last year? Not at all. Then, why was he forced to resign? He wrote an article arguing that women shouldn’t serve in combat. Controversial today? Yes. But he penned his piece 33 years ago. Back then, he was a Navy pilot, and his article—however wrong people believe it to be today—contributed to the culture’s debate on that question.

It didn’t matter that the executive denounced his own arguments soon after his piece was published. It didn’t matter that he has promoted females within the company. It didn’t matter that the Boeing president described the executive’s contributions to the company as “substantial even in a short time.” Today’s cancel culture will never let any wrong go unpunished. That’s why a Boeing employee found it fair to dig up the decades-old article, bring it to the attention of Boeing leadership, and complain about its contents. Canceled!

But long before Boeing’s “zero tolerance for bigotry of any kind” (the president’s own words explaining Boeing’s policy), someone else was the chief of cancel culture: Yahweh. That’s right! The Alpha and the Omega has been there from the beginning of time, noting every no-good deed anyone has ever committed, is committing, or will ever commit. That gives the man upstairs a huge leg up on cancel culture.

Boeing ain’t got nothin’ on God. They—along with the world’s woke—are the biggest Johnny-come-latelies. For better or for worse, though, there are five significant differences with God’s approach to canceling people.

First, God knows every wrong you commit. It’s not just your behavior. He even knows your evil thoughts and intentions, too. Being omniscient has its perks. Our heavenly Father has the capacity to recall everything you’ve done, even if you didn’t tweet it or post it on Facebook (or Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, Parler, or YouTube—MySpace might be beyond God’s reach, though). Your list of naughties fills every row in a 20 terabyte Excel file. Today’s cancel culture has the knowledge of a gnat compared to God.

Second, God cancels you in a more significant way. Today’s wanna-be cancel culture simply shames you, fires you, or robs you of your prestige. Sure, that’s bad. God, however, doesn’t just cancel you—he condemns you. You don’t just lose your job—you lose your soul. Kinda makes losing your job feel more like a hangnail.

Third, God’s moral standard never changes. In God’s economy, you won’t be caught off guard with a new moral rule next week: “Surprise, peanut butter cups are racist!” No way, José! (Besides, peanut butter cups are proof of God’s existence, especially the Big Cup ones with the extra peanut butter.) Sexual sin that was wrong 4,000 years ago is—you guessed it—still wrong today. Not so with today’s wishy-washy cancel culture. Their standard changes with the times. Ever seen a boat tossed about on the stormy sea? Neither have I. But if you did, that would be cancel culture today—unanchored. They’ll cancel you today, for something you did three decades ago, according to a standard invented a few years ago. Can you spell a-n-a-c-h-r-o-n-i-s-t-i-c? Sure you can…I just spelled it for you. Just copy my letters.

Fourth, God loves you. Whew, finally we get to some positive differences. God loves me? That’s right, the king of cancel culture actually cares about you. Sure, he’s ready to cancel you for your latest lust, racist rant, or tax evasion, but at least he’s on your side. He wants to help you. He’s not like the wild woke who won’t wait to wreck you for your wicked wrongs. He wuvs you! With him on your side, anything is possible, including (drum roll please!)...

Fifth, God offers a pardon. He’s willing to cancel your cancelation. Though your rap sheet might be miles long, God’s willing to wipe the slate clean. That’s like giving every canceled person a chance to get un-canceled (Greek: uni-canceleio, but don’t quote me on that—it might be an Italian pasta). That’s amazing. Does that mean the king of cancel culture wants to give you a break because he loves you? That’s right! Instead of canceling you, he’s willing to cancel his son. There’s no way cancel culture would ever let the blame shift away from you. They’d call you out and watch you crash and burn. In fact, that would probably be the headline: “[Insert your name here] Crashed and Burned Last Monday When He Ate a Peanut Butter Cup.” Secular culture loves to see people fall, but God loves to restore those who have fallen.

I know cancel culture isn’t going to change its tune anytime soon. Therefore, let’s follow the example of God, who extends grace to those who fall (Eph. 4:7). Instead of gleefully watching someone’s demise, let’s try to restore them (Gal. 6:1). Maybe if we do that enough, we can cancel cancel culture.