James Meehan - Should Christians Participate in Cancel Culture?
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Vince Parker: Welcome back to Culture Makers. Today, we're talking аbout: Should Christians participate in cancel culture? I'm your host, Vince Parker, along with my amazing host, James Meehan. James, sir. How are you doing?
James Meehan: I am doing wonderful. I specifically did not wear blazers this week.
Vince Parker: That was in one of the comments that someone said you wear blazers too often.
James Meehan: Yeah, so I'm like, "Let me mix it up".
Vince Parker: You do own a few pair of blazers, but that's okay. Embrace you.
James Meehan: I own two pairs, okay? I switch 'em off, people.
Vince Parker: Very nice.
James Meehan: Haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate.
Vince Parker: I don't know what that means, James. Last week, we talked аbout: Should Christians cancel Lil Nas X?
James Meehan: Yup, absolutely.
Vince Parker: Really?
James Meehan: We did.
Vince Parker: People talked about it, shared about it. We got our point across, but I think the thing we ran into was people were like, well, cancel. Should we cancel him? I think it's the word, and defining the word, and what does cancel mean. So when you think about the word cancel just in itself, what does that mean to you as society defines it?
James Meehan: Yeah, I mean, I think this is the really important thing for us to understand, is that to cancel someone is to go beyond just choosing not to listen to their music, or to support their career, right? For those of you who watched last week's video, you heard us talk about how we didn't watch the music video that Lil Nas X put out. We aren't gonna buy the shoes, and we didn't agree with the choices that he made. And yet, we also chose not to participate in canceling this individual, because we believe that every human being is made in the image of God, regardless of what they've done, what they've said, or the types of music videos they choose to release. And so I think this is the important distinction to make is that there's a difference between not supporting somebody's work, and then canceling them as an individual. Right? I think there's wisdom and discernment in saying, "Hey, that music video probably isn't gonna help me grow closer to Jesus, and so I'm not gonna watch it," or "Hey, that movie's got a whole lot of nudity, so I'm just gonna pass on that". Or "Man, when I watch these kinds of shows, it takes my thoughts to places that I don't think are honoring to God or honoring to others, so I'm just gonna put some guard rails in place, and not participate in that," but that is very different than engaging in what has become a really, really destructive and unhealthy cancel culture, where not only are we saying, "Hey, I don't agree with that person," but we actually wanna make it to where that person has no influence, no platform, and even beyond that, no future. This is why I think cancel culture is so unhealthy.
Vince Parker: Got you.
James Meehan: It's because it leaves no space for grace, right? There are people who, maybe 10 or 15 years ago, said something that was inappropriate, not helpful, and potentially actually really harmful, who over the last 10 or 15 years, have repented, they've apologized. They've changed their ways. And yet, what ends up happening is we take their past.
Vince Parker: Right.
James Meehan: And inflict it onto their present, cutting off any hope for a future. And I think that's where cancel culture becomes unhealthy. Again, what we're not saying is that we, as followers of Jesus, shouldn't disagree with bad ideas.
Vince Parker: Right.
James Meehan: Obviously we should, but we need to disagree, and allow others to keep their dignity. For me, as somebody who Jesus died for while I was still a sinner, I was so thankful that because of the grace of Jesus, the sins of my past are not cutting me off from my future.
Vince Parker: Sure.
James Meehan: But because of who Jesus is, and everything that he did, we have hope for a better tomorrow, and I don't wanna rob somebody else of that, just because they said or did something dumb. Now, again, we are not saying that we should go along with every bad idea that people throw out there. That makes no sense. That is the opposite of wisdom. But when people do something wrong, when they say something dumb, whatever that is, what we wanna be able to do is be a place where people can experience God's grace.
Vince Parker: That's good.
James Meehan: And so that's where, when it comes to cancel culture, we're not gonna support every bad idea that's out there, but we're never gonna cut people off from the grace of God that is available to anybody and everyone, regardless of what they've done.
Vince Parker: James, I think you said that amazing, great. I don't even think I need to add anything to that, just 'cause of how great you said that.
James Meehan: Cool.
Vince Parker: So?
James Meehan: All right, I'm sure that there are gonna be some of you who still have questions, and please feel free to comment. That was a blow. I tried to respond to as many of the questions we got on our last video. I obviously didn't get to all of them, but if you do have questions, if there are parts where you're still having a hard time understanding, what does it look like as a follower of Jesus, to respond to some of the things that people are producing that are so against the way of Jesus, then, man, please comment that down below. I think one of the things that I do wanna add too is just understanding the difference between how we, as Christians, should respond to other Christians, versus non-Christians, because I think this is one of the things that...
— That's good.
— ...came up where people were asking the question. Okay, but like what about the truth? What about telling people the truth? Are we allowing people to just continue on in their sin by not telling them what's true? And I think the important thing here is to look at the example of Jesus throughout the gospels, and see how he responded to those who were in the family of God, versus those who were not, right? The people that Jesus was the most harsh with truth were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and his own disciples, right? The other Jewish believers were the people that Jesus confronted most harshly with truth. But then the non-believers, those who were sinners, tax collectors, Samaritans, those who are outside the family of God were the people that Jesus was the most gentle towards, who had the most grace towards. And I think that should be our approach as followers of Christ, is that when there are people who have not made the decision to say, "Jesus, I wanna follow you, and I'm giving you my life," man, those are the people that we wanna reflect the same radical grace and relentless love that Jesus does. Now, again, this doesn't mean that we go along with every bad idea that people say. This doesn't mean that we approve of every bad idea that people say. What it means is that even when people are wrong, we still show them the love of God.
— So let's say you have a friend.
— Who does not believe in Jesus.
— Come on.
— Perhaps they're an atheist. And they like to go around, cussing people out. Now we should show grace, but we don't have to support them. We don't have to walk around with them when they're cussing people out.
— And cheer 'em on.
— Right, we don't have to throw people out.
— Man, that was a good cuss word right there.
— Right. We should not do that, right?
— You guide them good.
— Correct. That's a no, do not support that. Do not do that at all. But let's say one day that friend did that for five years straight.
— And because you kept inviting them to church.
— Come on.
— You just said, "Hey, man, here's a text. Just wanna let you know you're welcome to come to church with me".
— And they showed up one day, and they found Jesus.
— Come on, dude.
— And now their lives have turned around. They're going around apologizing to all the people. But now they, every once in a while, they cuss someone out, 'cause they're changed, but, you know, old habits die hard.
— Yeah, and they're in process.
— Right. So now you're saying the way you call them out is different.
— Than before when they didn't know Jesus. Now you're saying, "Hey, man, I need to sit down with you because you know Jesus".
— "We don't get down like that. That's not what we do as believers".
— Right. We're called to something different. But the thing is, is if somebody hasn't made the decision to follow Jesus, if they haven't agreed to live by the same standards that we do, and so if I try to hold somebody to the standard that they haven't ever agreed to, then what's gonna end up happening is, I'm actually gonna create more probably frustration and tension in that relationship than I want. And my hope would be that, if I've got a friend who doesn't know Jesus, and is living a life that is very far from the way of Jesus, then what I wanna do is I wanna be the kind of person that whenever crap hits the fan for them, right, whenever they find themselves in a hard place, that they want to come to me for help, so that I can help guide them towards what's good, and what's true. But if I spend all of my time and energy condemning them for the choices that they're making, then guess what they're never gonna do?
— Not gonna come to you.
— Right. And so why do we not think Christians should participate in cancel culture? Because cancel culture leaves no space for grace. We live in a world where people are begging for atonement, for things to be made right, but we are allergic to forgiveness. I don't remember where I heard that, but somebody said it.
— That's good, though.
— It's really good. I like it.
— Let's move on to our next thing.
— Next thing!
— Coming up, James, do you watch golf?
— So then you don't know the Masters. One of the bigger tournaments in golf starts this week.
— Man. That's exciting. I'm sure that there are a lot of people who can't wait to watch that.
— Okay. We'll move on. Next up, women's NCAA tournament, Arizona beat Stanford to win the women's tournament. This is the first time, since, I believe, 1992.
— Come on, bro.
— So congratulations for that too.
— That's before I was born. Is that before you were born?
— Wow. Okay. I see how you did me right there. Eh, in about 1992, give or take, but congratulations to Arizona. Shout out. Well done. Next up, men's NCAA tournament tonight. The finals.
— Yes. Yes.
— So we record on Mondays.
— Comes out on Tuesday, so right now, it's Baylor versus Gonzaga.
— Come on.
— You gotta pick in advance. Who do you got? Who are you going with, and why?
— Gonzaga, because Gabriel Gonzaga was a former UFC heavyweight champion. And I don't ever watch basketball, but I really love mixed martial arts.
— So not no stats, no numbers, no uniform color choices, no sponsorships.
— Oh, yeah.
— No location of the school. Strictly based on the name Gonzaga, has to do with the fighter that you like. Okay, I'll go with Baylor. We'll see what happens. Gonzaga, Baylor, y'all let us know. Y'all know tonight, in the comments, who won, let us know. All right, James, let's talk about wrestling.
— Come on, yes! I put something in his notes that we were talking about this, because I don't watch basketball, but I love wrestling. And a historic thing happened. I believe it was this weekend where Jordan Burroughs, who has been the face of USA wrestling for the last 10 years, who has dominated on the world stage, he's an Olympic gold medalist, four-time world champion, was beaten. He was beaten in the Olympic trials by Kyle Dake, who, the last, I think, three or four times he and Jordan Burroughs have wrestled, Jordan has always beaten him. Kyle Dake has been trying to go to the Olympics, but has never been able to, because Jordan Burroughs is the guy, but this weekend, Kyle Dake beat Jordan Burroughs. So now Kyle Dake is gonna go represent the USA in the 20, whenever the next Olympics are. I have no idea.
— I'm so confused.
— Is it 2022?
— James, let's get into some questions from our viewers.
— Mmm, come on.
— Let's see what they have to say. First up is, I can't ever pronounce YouTube names, but this is from XEmily, AdryX, AdreeX? I don't know. I just messed it up.
— Wow, butchered that, but we love you.
— We do. So I'm gonna go with Emily.
— There you go. That's good.
— She has a question. How can she deal with intrusive thoughts? Like blasphemy, things like that.
— Dang. Okay, so coming out of the gates or the blasphemy. So here's the thing. We become like the people we spend time with.
— And so my advice would be to spend time around people who are gonna help you direct your thoughts towards what's good and what's true. So there's kind of like the big picture principle. A really practical way to further unpack this idea is to go to the Life.Church YouTube channel, and check out the series Winning the War in Your Mind. Our senior pastor, Craig Groeschel, just preached a four-week series titled Winning the War in Your Mind, based off of his new book that is all about how to redirect your thoughts away from what's bad, towards what's good. It's absolutely incredible. You can also get the book, probably on Amazon, and I think you can get anything there.
— But that would be probably a great place to start. Surround yourself with great people, and then check out that series Winning the War in Your Mind.
— And then the same thing with people, what do you watch?
— Come on.
— What do you listen to? Make sure you pay attention to those things. You want healthy things going in, so healthy things come out. So you have healthy thought patterns, but Pastor Craig's book and message series covers all that really great. So that's a great one. Next is Faded Flame. What are your thoughts on gory games and movies?
— Love 'em, next.
— I'm just kidding.
— It depends, right? How gory are we talking? Are we talking like, this is so gory that, oh my gosh, how did they even make that movie? I would probably avoid those. I think this is a thing for me. I love a good video game. I love a good story, whether it's a movie, or video game, where it's good versus evil, where you're just rocking out, destroying these monsters, whatever that looks like. But the thing that I always have to remind myself of is that so many games and movies and shows are built around this idea of good beats evil through violence.
— But the way of Jesus is a way where good defeated evil through sacrifice.
— And so honestly, I have to be really careful about, man, when I'm enjoying these games, am I subtly reminding myself that the way that I defeat what's bad is by literally using force to overcome them? Or am I recognizing that the way that Jesus overcame the forces of darkness was through service, compassion and sacrifice? So I say all that to say it depends. If it's super gory, you don't need that. But if it's gonna just be a little bit of entertainment without taking you over to the extreme, use wisdom. I dunno. I'm just kinda rambling at this point. Vince, save me.
— Yes, sir. Here's what I would say. Man, you have to determine what you watch and listen to on your thoughts, based on Emily's question.
— Come on.
— If things are guiding your thoughts in the wrong direction, I'm a huge fan of immediately cutting it off, and not having anything to do with it.
— So true.
— At the end of the day, it could be anything. If you find yourself eating too much McDonald's all the time,
— Come on.
— Right. Stop going to McDonald's.
— Right, I mean, that's not good for your health, right?
— It doesn't even taste good.
— You can work out, it's good for you, but you can work out too much, right, where it's bad for your health. So whatever it may be, if it's too much of it, avoid it. It's the same thing with gory things, gory movies, video games, avoid them if they're bad for you, right?
— So for instance, I don't play gory stuff, don't watch gory movies. Scares me. I avoid it altogether.
— Come on, bro. Say it.
— All right, James, next up. LeShae Miller says this.
— Dude, LeShae is the bomb.com. LeShae, you are the official favorite Culture Makers viewer of all time.
— Favorite of all time.
— Can I say that?
— You did, it's live. Everyone now knows. LeShae's the favorite. Here we go. How should Christians respond to name brands, like Nike, adidas, et cetera. How involved should we get in our appearance?
— Hmm, easy, cancel them.
— Wow. Whoa.
— Obviously I'm just kidding. We just talked about why we shouldn't cancel things.
— So, LeShae, this is what I would say. I think your appearance matters. There's some basic things that everyone should do, like you should shower.
— Mmm, come on, dude.
— You should comb or brush your hair.
— You should shave on a regular basis, or keep your beard trimmed, you know, 'cause you don't wanna be offensive to people. You don't wanna be around going smelly. You don't wanna, things like that, right?
— But then how you dress matters too, because it says something about you, whether you wanna believe it not, right? And the statement you wanna make contributes to who you are, and what you're doing in life. Right, so for instance, if you want to be a lawyer in a courtroom, I don't know if I should walk into a courtroom with my hat turned backwards, to the sides like this, right?
— Yeah, yeah, yeah.
— So sometimes branding, like Nike or adidas, are just that. They're just branding, they're just clothing, just the name of brand of clothing that you wear. And I think that's okay. Now when you make these things gods,
— Come on, dude.
— When you take a pair of Nikes, or a pair of adidas, or a pair of Jordans, or your favorite store, and you make gods out of them, and your fashion becomes your god, like "At all costs, I've gotta look a certain way," or "I've gotta keep up with the latest look or the latest trend," or you're going into debt trying to keep up with things, I think, then, that's when we take it too far. Being intentional about looking nice.
— And dressing a way that you like, I don't think there's anything wrong with that.
— Right, absolutely.
— Now, if they promote something that you dislike, or are not in favor of, I would not choose to wear that. But most people don't really do the research on the branding of the clothing they wear to find out what they're about. They just go, "Oh, look at that top". Or "Look at those shoes. I like those". And they put them on their feet, because again, you can't walk around naked.
— Yup. The thing that is important to recognize is that we live in a world that prioritizes status, wealth, and power. I think there are oftentimes where we feel like, "Man, if I have these cool clothes, then I'll have more status. I'll have more power. I can show off my wealth". And if that's where our priority is as a follower of Jesus, then I think our priorities are out of place, because Jesus came into this world to serve the least, the last, and the lost. And so what I would encourage you to do is just ask the question: What role do these brands play in my life?
— If it's just some clothing that I like, and I wanna present myself well to others, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. But what you just said there is, man, if I'm allowing this to become my priority, then we've got it misplaced. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that you cannot serve both God and money, right? We cannot serve both God and things.
— And so things are not a bad thing, unless those things define who we are, because our defining qualities, our value, doesn't come from what we wear. It comes from who we are in Christ. And so yeah.
— All right, James, this last question, it's a doozy.
— So here we go.
— Doozy. I don't even know what that actually means. Should Christians say doozy?
— So from, Alyssa Tan says this. How do you answer a non-believer when they ask, "If God created the world, who created God"? Or "If everything needs a creator, why doesn't God need one"? She says she finds this question quite difficult to answer. James?
— Yeah. So this is a really great question. And it's one that you will find on the internet a lot. Now, thankfully there are really, really brilliant Christian philosophers and theologians who have answered this question throughout the ages. The reality is that just not many Christians know how to answer that question. So the idea is this: is that the God we believe in is not a created being. God doesn't have a beginning or an end. He is the beginning and the end. God is existence itself. So how do you create existence? Well, that actually is contradictory. You can't create something that is uncreated. What we believe is that God is eternal. He's timeless. He's without beginning or end. And so, because of that, what we believe is that God wasn't created. And if something isn't created, then it has no creator, because God is the Creator of everything. So one of my favorite arguments for the existence of God is called the Kalam cosmological argument. And it goes like this. It's three things. Thing number one: Everything that begins to exist has a cause. And this is really important. Everything that begins to exist has a cause. The thing is, is God never began. God has always existed. Then the second part of the argument is that the universe began to exist. Because if you look at the scientific data, there is a lot of consistent consensus among scientists that at some point in the finite past, the universe began to exist. And then the third part of this argument is that the universe has a cause. So that leads to the question. What is that cause? We believe, as Christians, that the cause of everything is the Creator, God, who created everything. And so when somebody says to you, "Okay, well, if everything needs a creator, who created God"? Or "If God created the universe, then who created God"? The way that I typically respond is, well, if you think God needs a creator, then you've misunderstood God, because the God that we believe in is not like anything else. He is literally the foundation of reality. He is too big for us to even wrap our minds around. He is an uncreated Creator. He is the uncaused Cause. He created everything.
— And because of that, nothing could have created him.
— You need an entire YouTube show to talk about stuff like this.
— Comment down below. We'll make it happen.
— James, today's been a lot of fun.
— We'll be back next time.
— All right, guys, thank you so much for listening to the Culture Makers. Glad you're here. Like, subscribe, comment below, ask your questions, man. We wanna answer them and help you out any way that we can. Appreciate you, and we will see you later on the Culture Makers.