Casting Stones & Cancel Culture

“If my sinfulness appears to me to be in any way smaller or less detestable in comparison with the sins of others, I am still not recognizing my sinfulness at all. … How can I possibly serve another person in unfeigned humility if I seriously regard his sinfulness as worse than my own?” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

I’m not a fan of cancel culture because it feels a lot like casting the first stone to me. If I’m the one who can pick up that rock and throw it at someone for what I deem to be the unpardonable sin, am I not presenting myself as sinless? Am I in some way insinuating that I am the better person who is somehow more holy than the other?

I get it that people do despicable things and deserve to face the consequences of their actions. But if I’m honest, there’s nothing I’ve seen or read about that I am not capable of myself apart from the grace of God. I am just as in need of forgiveness as anyone else who has ever lived.

Those men who caught the woman in the very act of adultery were just as ready to cancel her in the most brutal and literal way possible. But Jesus bent down and wrote in the dust. Was He naming their sins? Was He writing down their secret thoughts and indiscretions? Whatever it was He wrote down, they all dropped their stones and walked away.

Jesus said two things to the woman. First, He told her that He did not condemn her. Second, He told her to go and sin no more. Grace is not antithetical to truth. Mercy is not the opposite of holiness. Forgiveness is not the polar opposite of righteousness. God calls us to be both loving and holy.

But He calls us to see that we are not forgiven and saved because we were somehow smarter or more clever than others. We are forgiven and saved because it was God’s good pleasure. It is also God’s good pleasure that no one else should perish but that all should come to repentance and faith. It is not God’s good pleasure for us to cancel anyone.

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