Cancel Culture And The Church
According to Merriam -Webster, to “cancel” (in this context) means “to stop giving support to a person.”
Dictionary.com, in its pop-culture dictionary, defines “Cancel Culture” as “withdrawing support for public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.”
It has become a leaderless movement to “cancel” out someone, anyone, regardless of status or social ranking, anyone who either has opposing views, who errs, or who just plainly does not sit right with you and your feelings at the given time or day. It is unforgiving and unrelenting, and it seems you can not blink fast enough because there is one canceling event every minute. Rightly, one has to question where it all began.
One prehistoric, historic and all too familiar place would be the church. For a place required to be seen as solace, the church starts out as a place where not only can you not have opinions, you can not ever dare to do or say anything or act in a certain manner that does not please — The Elders!
As we all know and love, Christ Jesus not only saved a young woman from being stoned to death by asking the first person who was certain they were without sin to throw the first stone, he made sure all knew they were welcome in the presence of God, and what better way to display this than in the very manner he selected his disciples. The men were not perfect but it is famously said that He doesn’t call the qualified, but He qualifies the called. Which only makes you wonder why the elders of the church would do anything to turn their Sunday Service into a day to scrutinize and proclaim themselves judge over the very lives and decisions of the youths.
In the world we are in today, every youth is being profiled, dangerously so in Nigeria. You dare not look a certain way or dress a certain way. You ought not to misrepresent by desecrating the body God carefully crafted after His own image and likeness. Having more piercings than your mother and father decided was okay in your ears is a sin and you are deemed waywardly if you indulge in such. Giving you hair a different phase from the one you were born into is horrifying and a host of many others. Many of these elders are our parents, uncles, aunties and teachers, even doctors.
It is safe to say that Cancel Culture started out as some old fashioned church discipline. You will be ostracised for not doing anything seemingly appropriate to these elders. The one place you should be made to feel safe is the one place you will be made to feel ashamed and ultimately stay away from.
From its origins in the 17th century all through to the late 19th century, Baptists in America vigorously engaged in the practice of church discipline. Faithfuls who had sinned would be accused, tried and then convicted by a jury of their peers and each verdict would be decided by democratic vote. The repentants were restored back to the community of angels while the obstinate were excommunicated, or to borrow from today’s phraseology, “Canceled.” In 1817, a certain “Brother Lancaster ” was brought before the membership of Powelton Baptist Church for allowing dancing at his daughter’s wedding. While admitting to his guilt, He inadvertently turned accuser, stating that the church had neglected to address weightier sins, including favoritism of the rich over the poor.
While looming over situations that need not be up for questioning by a jury of equally imperfect humans, they have failed to lend a united voice to curb a greater ill.
Which only begs the question, if the church had focused on things that really mattered rather than what and who did not make them feel good about themselves that day, the world would be a much simpler and forgiving place than it is today. If parents, elders were to understand and focus more on the inward acts of each child rather than the outward appearances, we would have less of what we face as youths of the nation today.