Cancel Culture and The Power of The Cross
As we have reflected this week on racism, politics, and the role both play within our faith and church, I have found myself considering who the real ‘bad guys’ are. I wanted to highlight a certain pattern.
Discriminating against, exploiting and deliberately harming another person because of their race is wrong, very few would disagree with this. We call this racism and we stand firmly against it. We make it really clear that that behaviour is intolerable (and rightly so). However in doing this, we create a narrative that makes racism something that is only done by bad guys. Now, before you switch off this page because of my stating the obvious, let me explain.
What if good people, well-intentioned people, people who actually do not want to be racist, harboured a level of prejudice that they did not even realise. And they mostly interact with other people like them, so they also never get a chance to see the layer of prejudice that they hold. Every single person is a product of their culture; behaviours and ideals are learned and engrained, and easily left unchallenged. When we conclude that only bad people are racist, we instantly excuse ourselves from the problem. Which means we also exclude ourselves from the solution. If we are not willing to listen, learn and change. The pattern I wanted to highlight, was that if we could just be open to the possibility that we may have unintentionally contributed to racism, that would be a step in the right direction towards healing.
What this got me thinking about then, was the ‘bad guys’. When we think about a ‘real racist’, we might think of certain prolific figures from history. Everybody knows that they are not good role models. There are other real life baddies too. I purposely don’t want to name names, but recently we have seen multiple public figures disgraced as sin has been exposed in their lives. Sin that we find intolerable and unforgivable: child abuse and sex offences are often high profile.
Cancel culture has been developed. We discover unforgivable transgressions in a previously celebrated figure and we are so abhorred that we ‘cancel’ them. They lose their jobs, positions, publishers withdraw their books and we stop listening to their music. Often we feel disappointed in an individual we never knew personally. We can find ourselves unable to appreciate any of their previous positive contributions in other spheres (eg music, theology, film) because another part of their lives has polluted it. This is the power of sin.
I just wondered where we draw the line. It is something I expect every leader has nightmares about occasionally too; waking to a headline that reads,
‘Local vicar disgraced after getting another parking fine’, or
‘Primary teacher fired over allegations of improper recycling.’
‘Policewoman’s career finished after failing to pick up her dog’s little presents.’
Yes I am being a little bit facetious. Of course we cannot compare these seemingly trivial transgressions to the serious crimes of sex and child abuse. But why is that? Where does it say in the Bible that some sins are worse than others? Does Romans 3:23 teach us that some people fall short of the glory of God, but some were not too bad and actually met God’s standard on their own merit?
Who is a sinner? Who is a real bad guy? Are we really comfortable ‘cancelling’ a person because of what they have done? Sometimes we wonder – ‘could God really forgive [insert extreme baddie name here]?’ One of my children once asked me if God would forgive the devil*…
I thought today, as I conclude these reflections, that we could think about what the power of the Cross has to do with all of this. All of this mess, pain, hurt, confusion and division. Maybe today we could ask Jesus where He is in all of this. What does Jesus offer in response to the sins of others? And what does He want to show us about our own sin?
Thanks for sticking with me all week – God bless – Anna x
*I’d love to hear your reflections on this one