“How The Devil Uses Cancel Culture” #ChurchOfTheUndead
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The postmodern definition of “intolerance” has been eating away at our society for years and cancel culture is the result.
It wasn’t that long ago that a relatively new technology — the internet — created a brand new medium for bullying. Soon enough, we had a name for it: cyber bullying. And everyone was against it, decrying it as dangerous at every turn, warning parents to monitor their children’s activity in chat rooms and on social media and taking a collective stand against it as a societal ill resulting in myriad mental health issues and prompting suicidal thoughts for some victims.
As a society, we’re still against it on a one-on-one basis. But if we gather up a whole bunch of people together to bully a person or company, it’s not considered cyber-bullying anymore… and apparently it’s perfectly okay. In fact, it’s encouraged in the name of social justice. That sounds fair… right?
Hello, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar; lead pastor of The Church of the Undead. Whether you made it here from the popular Weird Darkness podcast (which is why I started by saying “hello Weirdos”) or if you found us in some other way, I’m thankful you are here – welcome to The Church of the Undead. Yes, undead – because we have died to our sins and are now alive in Christ!
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Full disclosure – I might use the term “pastor” because we’ve branded this podcast as a church – but I do not have a theology degree, nor did I ever go to Bible college. I do have a minister’s license – if you count going online and paying thirty bucks as a legitimate license to minister. In reality, I’m just a guy who gave his life to Christ in 1989 and has tried to “walk the walk” every since – and has stumbled a lot along the way. And as an imperfect, heavily-flawed human being, while I will always try to bring truth, sometimes I’m going to get it wrong. So please don’t take what I say as gospel; dig into God’s word yourself for confirmation, inspiration, and revelation.
That being said, welcome to the Church of the Undead.
If you’re a regular on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media platforms, you’ve likely witnessed the unnerving yet growing phenomenon called “cancel culture.”
Cancel culture refers to the collective online attack (or bullying if you prefer) by often anonymous people on a particular person’s job status and platform, or a particular company’s sales, based on that person or organization’s perceived wrongdoing. Not necessarily actual wrongdoing – just perceived wrongdoing.
The cancel culture mob uses tactics such as group shaming and calls for boycotting to get entities to bend to its will.
The “offenses” that have triggered these online takedowns swing broadly from condemning an actress for accepting roles that don’t align with her race or gender, to punishing a business entity for supporting a sitting president, closing down a church because the pastor liked one of Trump’s tweets, etc.
Others have been posting ad nauseam about Splash Mountain, a log-flume ride at Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California. The ride, critics say, needs to go — or, at the very least, be re-themed — because it was inspired by the 1946 film “Song of the South,” a movie many have decried as racist for its stereotypes of black people and its nostalgic depiction of the antebellum south.
That followed a decision by HBO Max to pull “Gone with the Wind” from its streaming service due to its “racist depictions.” The company has since announced the 1939 movie — which resulted in the first black American, Hattie McDaniel, winning an Oscar — will return to the service with “a denouncement of those very depictions.”
The long-running reality show “Cops” was also cancelled for “glorifying” police. Heaven forbid we show the boys in blue as the good guys.
And it doesn’t stop with entertainment. Some have also been calling for the popular southern homestyle restaurant chain Cracker Barrel to be closed because, according to activist April Reign, when you open the door to the eatery, “you get a whiff of Jim Crow. And biscuits.”
And none of that mentions New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who was forced into making not one, but two apologies for saying he disagrees with those who choose to protest injustice by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem ahead of NFL games. He has repented for the “pain” his opinion caused.
Facing intense scrutiny, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has turned away from his opinion as well, now saying he supports the form of protest. Some are even urging the commissioner to participate in the kneeling this fall. The U.S. Soccer Federation has likewise decided it will no longer require players to stand during the national anthem.
All of these things — from mounting pressure over a Disney theme park ride to the shuttering of a church’s leased facility — are the product of a culture that has redefined “tolerance.”
No more are we able to coexist with those with whom we disagree. Instead, we force them to get on board, and if they don’t kowtow, we railroad over them.
These cancel culture casualties are a destructive form of politically expedient cyber bullying, and it needs to stop.
And I’m not the only one saying that.
Cancel culture’s weaponized use of social media has become so unduly punishing that even politicians with opposing ideologies have denounced its practice. Believe it or not, Barack Obama and Donald Trump have both said cancel culture has got to go.
[You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.]
Revelation 12:10 calls him the “accuser” of mankind…
[And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.]
The word “devil” itself derives from the Greek word diabolos, meaning someone who falsely accuses or condemns for the purpose of severing relationships. Let me say that again – “someone who falsely accuses or condemns for the purpose of severing relationships.” Is that not exactly what cancel culture is all about? Individuals and groups are accusing people or companies of misdeeds simply because they don’t agree with them morally or politically, and their goal is to severe that person or organization’s livelihood or career. That’s diablos – where we get the word “devil.”
Scripture tells us that God’s law is eternal and just.
Psalm 33:11, “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”
Isaiah 30:18, “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”
In stark contrast, what’s “right” by society’s standards is and always has been fluid, changing with the times and with those who hold political and cultural sway.
Today, the division inherent in cancel culture’s destruction of anyone who doesn’t uphold popular norms plays right into what Satan wants for the human race—to turn us against each other so that we will, thereafter, turn against God.
Satan Seeks to Divide and Devour
Satan has sought to divide God’s Creation since his fall from Heaven when he took a third of the angels with him. Unable to directly retaliate against God, Satan instead turned his sights on God’s children. In Genesis chapter three we see Satan, tempting Adam and Eve into disobeying God in the Garden of Eden. This one act of disobedience, initiated by Satan, not only strained humanity’s relationship with God, but caused the first humans to turn against each other when Adam blamed Eve for giving him the forbidden fruit to eat. It was the first time in human history that someone threw someone else under the bus.
It’s no wonder that in describing the devil’s attempts to unravel God’s Kingdom, the Apostle Peter depicts Satan like this:
1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
One way that the Devil “devours” our relationship with God and with each other is by tricking us into believing that what is right and wrong is relative. In other words, there is no absolute standard of right or wrong, but only what a particular society within a particular point in time deems to be right or wrong.
Satan wants nothing more than for each of us to act as our own individual gods, casting stones at each other based on our own moral code and denying the authority and commandments of the only God of the Universe. But remember; a lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good just because it’s accepted by a majority.
Cancel Culture Furthers Satan’s Aim by Normalizing Vengeance
In the virtual world, there are those who sit perched on high alert, scanning for reasons to cast stones at anyone who does anything deemed objectionable, whether the actions are past or present, or attributable to someone living or dead. It’s even easier for the stone-throwers to feel powerful when they have the anonymity of being behind a computer screen.
Just thinking somebody did something wrong is enough to get the stone-throwers fired up. That person doesn’t have to actually do something wrong – they just to be perceived to be doing something wrong.
In fact, after I already chose the subject of this week’s message, I heard this following story – and was floored.
Greg Patton is a professor of clinical business communication at the University of Southern California. During a recent virtual classroom session – that is, teaching online thanks to the pandemic quarantine – he was discussing public speaking patterns and the filler words that people use to space out their ideas: such as when people say, “um, er, uh, like, you know,” etc. Patten mentioned that, “In China the common word fillers is ‘that, that that that’.”
The word “that” in China is prounced “nega”. So in China, Patton explained to his online viewing class, you’ll hear it said as “nega, nega, nega, nega,” You can already see where this is going, can’t you?
Yep. Because the Chinese word nega sounds like a horrible derogatory term for blacks, some online students were offended and reported the matter to the administration. And now Patton has been suspended from teaching without being able to face his accusers, for using a word that is not a curse word, does not translate to a curse word in another language, and was never used in a context to even imply a curse word. In fact, he was using the word during an educational presentation of filler words and what you might hear from someone from China – which I would think would be something kinda handy to know – especially if you are trigger happy about words that kinda sound like other words that you get triggered by. Imagine you are black, you’re in a business meeting with a Chinese salesman and suddenly he loses his train of thought and, stumbling to regain his thoughts, says “nega nega nega nega”. Would it not be good to know that he did not just call you a nasty name four times in a row, but was actually just trying to regain his focus on the sale presentation? I would think so! And I won’t get into it, but look at the dozens of stories of people being fired or scolded for using the word niggardly – which is not what it sounds like, in fact it’s a fourteenth century word which predates the “bad” word by hundreds of years and it actually means “stingy”. J.R.R. Tolkien even used the word in “The Lord of the Rings” – but I don’t think anyone demanded that publication of his books cease immediately.
The reach of those cast stones is frightening and oftentimes as easy as liking or retweeting a post calling for someone’s “cancellation,” or push into oblivion.
For the stone-thrower, the reward of ganging up on a labeled “wrongdoer” is immediate and short-lived, deceiving the stone-thrower into believing that if he tears down a “sinner,” then he must be more righteous for having done so. For the “canceled” person, however, the consequences of being targeted can be far-reaching and catastrophic, including such things as job loss, career derailment, or risks to the canceled person’s personal safety if identifying information is posted online.
Simply put, cancel culture is one of Satan’s latest weapons to divide the world and distance us from God.
As Christians We Need To Avoid Cancel Culture and Seek to Live in Peace With Everyone
Unlike cancel culture’s attempt to ostracize anyone who does something deemed controversial at the moment, the Bible is clear that Jesus wants us to live in peace.
The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:14, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
Let me say that again – “make every effort to live in peace with everyone”. Jesus takes that a step further in Matthew 22:39 when he said “…‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Then in Matthew 5:44, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
So how do we find peace with others. There are four ways to do it.
First – acknowledge that we are all sinners (that means you and me too) and that we fall short of the perfection God wants for us to live. (Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”)
Second – be a giver of grace. Extend mercy to others as God has shown you mercy. (Luke 6:36, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”)
Third – Be quick to forgive someone even if you don’t feel like it. (Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”)
And fourth – help others to turn their lives around and mend relationships with those they’ve wronged, including their relationship with God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”)
Where cancel culture bows down before the thoughts and ways of popular culture, Scripture declares that God exists outside of time and space and, as such, His thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways – they go much further than ours. Isaiah 55:8-9 states, “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”
When we accept this truth, we can trust God’s Word to guide our steps rather than leaning on our own thoughts, which are the thoughts of a flawed human as opposed to a perfect God. Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Satan Desires to Malign, God Desires Mercy
Cancel culture urges us to malign those who dare to express an unpopular opinion; that is, it urges us to speak about someone in a spiteful or critical manner. But scripture encourages us to “let no corrupting talk come out of [our] mouths” so that we may use our speech, instead, to give grace to others (Ephesians 4:29). In Matthew 5:7) Jesus specifically refers to those who are merciful as “blessed,” and the recipients of future mercy from God.
Where cancel culture obliterates forgiveness for those who offend our paper-thin sensibilities, Christ warns in Matthew 6:12 that the very people who refuse to forgive will be held accountable for their unforgiveness. That’s even in the Lord’s Prayer you learned as a child – you might know that as the “Our Father”. “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”. Or “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Proverbs 17:9 notes that whoever forgives an offense fosters love, while whoever broadcasts an offense causes division amongst others. Cancel culture is all about broadcasting offenses (even those which are only perceived and not in actuality truly real) and demanding the offender pay the price in some way, to be punished publicly. Where cancel culture gives us license to seek vengeance on those who stumble, Scripture instructs us to restore the fallen person frankly but gently:
Leviticus 19:17 = “ ‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.”
Galatians 6:1 = “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”
In helping people be reconciled with God and with each other, we’re to focus on restoring the sinner, not avenging the sin. Punishing someone for their sin is God’s job only.
Romans 12:19 = “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
Cancel Culture Doesn’t Reflect Kingdom Culture
As Christians, we’re members of the Kingdom of God, and cancel culture has no place in our Kingdom culture. To maintain our perspective, we should keep in mind that God didn’t cancel us despite our many sins, but sent His Only Son to be tortured and killed so that we may have eternal life (John 3:16).
To reflect God’s love for us, we as Christians must also not cancel others for their transgressions.
By refusing to participate in any aspect of cancel culture and, instead, seeking peace with our fellow man, we can come together to stand in the way of the devil’s scheme to divide and conquer God’s people – and people in general. We are all, after all, children of God. We just need to accept His son to make it official. If you want to know more about how to do that, I’ll place a link in the show notes.
You would think that celebrities who lean far left would be onboard with a lot of cancel culture, but regarding canceling “Gone With The Wind”, even “The View” co-hosts Sunny Hostin, Joy Behar, and Whoopi Goldberg said it’s pointless. Hostin said it’s “much ado about nothing” and Behar added, “So we get rid of ‘Gone with the Wind,’ does that solve the problem with racism? I don’t think so.” And Goldberg voiced concerns about going too far with censorship of entertainment.
Professor Patton did not mean to harm anyone by uttering the words “nega nega nega nega”. The resemblance between that word and the n-word is purely coincidental, and adults should be perfectly capable of hearing them without fainting in front of their computers or with high drama and demanding someone be fired or shut down. Anyone who is this prepared to be bothered all the time, whatever the reason, needs to turn down their outrage dial.
The Dispatch’s David French wrote, “I’ll say this ten thousand times, but if anyone thinks they’re helping the cause of racial equality by engaging in absurd, over-the-top speech policing of innocent people, then they’re sadly mistaken.”
Cancel culture is the antithesis to grace and it’s the polar opposite of what it actually means to be tolerant.
When we look up the word “tolerant” we see the definition as: “…showing willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.” So if you demand someone be fired for their opinion or for something they said, isn’t that being IN-tolerant? If you think a TV show should be canceled or a business should be shut down because of who the owner supports politically, isn’t that being IN-tolerant? In fact, isn’t it being intolerant for you to demand someone accept a lifestyle or opinion – no matter what you’re demanding tolerance for? You can demand someone tolerate your opinion and lifestyle – but then you must also at the same time tolerate their opinion and lifestyle. You don’t have to agree with their opinion and lifestyle, nor do they have to agree with yours – but you do have to tolerate it. And that means not looking to destroy the person simply because you don’t like the way they think or act.
If you like what you heard in this episode, share it with a friend or family member. Maybe they’d like to join the Church of the Dead congregation too! If you want to get in touch with me, you can find all of my social media, postal address, and other contact information on the CONTACT page at WeirdDarkness.com, and while you’re there, join our Facebook Group, “Weird Darkness Weirdos” and hang out with me and the rest of our Weirdo family!
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me, Weirdos; and until next Sunday – or possibly sooner – Jesus loves you and so do I. God bless.