This Is Why You Must Think Before You Judge
Cancel culture is the emerging reign of cyber mob justice, intolerance and a hyper judgmental attitude towards offences and mistakes committed by others.
There is nothing wrong in calling out wrongdoing. No doubt, people should be held accountable for their actions. There is no excuse for bad behaviour.
But there is a problem with taking shots at others without first looking inwards. There is a problem with looking at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye but paying no attention to the plank in your own eye (Matthew 7:3, NIV).
Meet the father of cancel culture
King David committed adultery with a woman while the husband was at work. As the story goes, the man was an employee of the king, a soldier in the king's army.
It turned out that what the king did in secret would have a public manifestation. Imagine what happens when a woman falls pregnant when the husband hasn't been home for some time.
So the woman sent a message to the king to break the disturbing news.
In a classical power move, King David tried to cover up the brewing scandal by offering the woman's husband unplanned leave so that he could go home and be with his wife. But the man would not accept the pleasure of a vacation when war was raging. The king would not give up so he got the man drunk so that he could stagger home to the arms of his wife. But the man kept his head and staggered into the king's servants' lodge to spend the night.
So the king arranged to get the man killed. But this must be done without leaving a trail. The execution order was sealed by the king and couriered by the man himself to the commanding officer of the king's army.
With the husband now dead in the "course of active duty", David took the woman as wife and moved on with life. Crime committed and evidence safely buried, what could possibly go wrong?
It's time to cancel
Now here comes a prophet named Nathan to whom God had revealed David's recent escapades and cover ups.
Nathan approached the King with a problem that required the king’s opinion. He narrated the story of a rich man and a poor man who lived in the same city. Nathan explained how the rich man had so many goats and sheep and the poor man had only one which he treated almost like a baby. He went on to explain how the rich man had a guest and decided to confiscate the only sheep the poor man had to use to prepare a meal for his guest.
By the time Nathan finished the story, David was enraged. The king was ready to skin the so-called rich man alive for doing such an evil thing.
David was furious. “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity (I Samuel 12:5-6, NLT).
This sounds like what we would do today to someone who made a mistake or done something wrong. We are quick to sit on our judgement seats like kings and dispense instant justice.
We might want to terminate their career, withdraw contracts, or totally boycott their work.
But this could be problematic. David cancelled the rich man in Prophet Nathan's story without knowing that he was that man, and that man was him.
Anytime you think about paying someone back for some offences, remember that you are that man.
You may have covered your tracts so well. You may have buried the evidence. You look all cleaned up in public. But you are still that man.
Who is ready to cast the first stone?
One day, the hypocritical Pharisees brought a woman who was allegedly caught in adultery, without the male accomplice.
Jesus looked at the accusers of the woman (who were ironically all men) and said:
Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her (John 8:7, NIV).
At this point, the accusers all dropped their stones and disappeared.
We are living in a generation where people are so quick to cast the first stone. The public shame that people are subjected to when they make mistakes suggests everyone else is guiltless, which is far from the truth.
It is also possible that we are blind to our own errors. David failed to recognise that his own sin of adultery and murder is equally as grievous as stealing a goat from a poor man.
Such moral miscalculation and double standard create a bloated sense of self-righteousness that promotes intolerance to the faults of others.
Let’s drop it here
Prophet Nathan brought David to his knees by comparing a small goat stolen from a poor man with an entire human life and a family that David had destroyed. Jesus told the Pharisees to cast the first stone if they had no sin.
We become more judgemental and less compassionate when we are not conscious of our own humanity and the limitations that comes with it.
I will ask you to revisit wherever you sit in judgement, or perhaps where you are standing online or offline, with a stone in hand.
Drop your stones and go in peace.