Cancel Culture

The book, When Harry Became Sally by Ryan Anderson, was removed from Amazon.com’s website. The book challenges some of the current transgender policies of our government and does so with science. The book was published in 2018 and had hit number 1 on some of Amazon’s charts. Its disappearance from Amazon is viewed as an example of cancel culture. The left’s attempt to silence voices that disagree with them. Amazon certainly has lots of books that the left would disagree with, so we wonder about this book being targeted. In fact, I don’t know of a bookstore that I’ve entered where there wouldn’t be books with which I would disagree.

I value free speech. I think the original American ideal was a marketplace of ideas where proponents of competing ideas reasoned about different viewpoints and attempted to win others to their own point of view. I said reasoned discourse. Much discourse today is emotional and highly charged. It is unfortunate that so many people’s attention span has been shorted to sound bites. Sound bites are not reasoned discourse.

Following Jesus has always meant traveling with the few on the narrow road rather than the broad road with the many. Jesus pronounced this blessing in the Sermon on the Mount.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12, ESV

Speaking for Jesus has always had consequences. Jesus made clear that to be pleasing to him we may have to withstand harmful words and deeds that are against us. Cancel culture is not new. We only need to read the second century A.D. correspondence between Pliny the Younger and Trajan.*

With Covid-19 churches everywhere quickly embraced Zoom or streaming video. This has been a blessing in this difficult time. Our prayer is that people will be converted, but this more public presence may come back to bite. We could become the target of cancel culture. I’m not suggesting that we tailor our message on the Internet so that we are not criticized. I’m just warning that we may be targeted for what we say online as well as in real life, and we must be courageous.

I’ve reflected on the fact that if you are looking for evidence to convict me of being a Christian, I’ve left plenty online that would do so. Cancel culture can’t cancel us among fellow travelers of the narrow road. Cancel culture can’t cancel us in the eyes of God. Jesus has pronounced his blessing on the persecuted. But it also means we need to pray for boldness and perseverance.

— Russ Holden.

*https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/ancient/pliny-trajan1.asp

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