Recently, I read an article about a young woman whose 3 second clip from high school came back years later to haunt her. In a video clip she sent to a friend, celebrating her new license, she used a disgraceful, hurtful word. I do not condone what she said, but I think it reveals something about our culture.
Somehow, a young man at her school saw it and thought he would save the clip to bring it out in the future and teach her a lesson. He held onto it for over four years and then when he thought the time was right, he released it to the world. His plan of revenge worked perfectly, she ended up being removed from her new university and kicked off her cheer team.
This man didn’t explain to her how harmful this was to him, nor ask her why she said what she did, even though they passed each other for years in the hallways. He didn’t ask if she was apologetic, or regretted what she did, nor did he ask if she sought forgiveness of the ones to whom she had originally sent the video (which apparently she had). He was determined to be the judge and jury.
This type of judge and jury attitude is prevalent in our cancel culture. If you don’t toe a certain line, or you have made mistakes in the past, be careful, because the cancel culture might be at your door next. It will make sure that you don’t ever get a promotion, a job or a spot on the team. It will find out your dirty laundry, expose it and decide your punishment. There is no room for repentance or forgiveness. The plan is just to disgrace you.
Branded forever by your past deeds, to the cancel culture you are unable to grow and change. By its standard, who you were in the past is who you are in the future.
Therefore, under this assumption there is no hope, no grace, nor forgiveness. No one can ever change. There is no room for redemption. What a hopeless society.
Cancel Culture has it all wrong
However, the cancel culture forgets what Romans chapter 3 verse 23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Every single person on this planet has either had bad thoughts, said unkind words, thought ill or evil of someone, or done evil. We all struggle with sin, we are all guilty of sin... we all have dirty laundry.
The Bible is clear in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 17 that, “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Christ has paid our price for all of our sins and they are now forgiven. This does not mean that there are no consequences for past sins and mistakes. But, it does mean that we can change as we look to Christ and become more like Him daily.
Biblical forgiveness gives grace and realizes that we all do wrong, that we all need saving. In fact, as a Christian I still do wrong things or say the wrong thing. I am not perfect but, by God’s grace I am changing.
There is grace
I think of all the horrible things I have done in the past. I think of how mean I was to a girl in my school. I was a bully to her. Since becoming a Christian, I have reached out to her and I sought forgiveness.
It doesn’t take away the words I said or how I acted towards her, however I changed and needed to make it right. I am no longer that person, and I wanted her to know of the work God had done. The Lord has changed me and I am grateful that He and this woman from my school have forgiven me. Thank the Lord my mistakes weren’t put all over the internet for everyone to think that is who I still am, because it is not.
Paul would never have been able to write the New Testament
The Bible is full of people the cancel culture would have just dismissed. It would have continued to broadcast their past sins across the internet, even after the people sought forgiveness and changed. Think of Saul who turned to Paul, a man who went from killing Christians to worshiping with them.
A man who persecuted Jesus but then surrendered His life to Jesus. God interrupted his life, saved him and radically transformed him. God is in the redeeming business. Taking the worst of the worst and making them a new creation. No matter what you have done, nothing is beyond what God’s redeeming work can do.
With such great forgiveness extended to us from God that we don’t deserve, it is only right (and biblical) for us to extend forgiveness to others (see Matthew chapter 18, verses 21-35). Furthermore, God tells us in His Word when people sin we should go privately and tell them, not broadcast it to the world (see Matthew chapter 18, verse 15).
May God give us the grace to forgive others as we have been forgiven!
Genevieve Wilson is Canadian. a happily married home-schooling mum of 3, whose passion is to see people come to know Jesus. She is a seminary wife to her amazing husband.