Cancel Culture, Guilt, and Shame

Abdu Murray takes a closer look at Jesus’ Eastern context to see what we might be missing in the West. On day four, Abdu examines the Gospels to see what Jesus might have to say about the West’s “cancel culture.”

Jesus spoke and lived in an honor shame system. It’s interesting to me that such an ancient person could have such relevant things to say about us today in our increasingly honor shame based society even here in the West.

Now, if you understand what’s going on in the full context, you’ll understand that the Pharisees were telling people, “If you say that Jesus is the Messiah, whoever follows Jesus will be put out of the synagogue,” which is the worst public shaming a Jew in the first century could possibly endure. They would be put out of the place where the community comes together. They would be “cancelled.”

What Jesus does in a remarkable way is he replaces the cheap cultural honor, bestowed by hypocrites, with the incalculable honor bestowed only by the son of God.

Make it personal:

  • What does it mean to you to receive the honor that Jesus provides his followers?

  • How does this give you courage to risk being ‘cancelled’ as you testify about what Jesus has done in your life?


Not to disagree though it has become more evident in the latter days.
Shaming has been a people and church practice for milineum which is very sad. Jesus not once ever shamed someone He took the shame upon Himself.
Whether true story or not I do not know?
A young man setting on a church step crying was asked what’s wrong and he said they wont let me in the way I am. Jesus said they wont let me in either.
Judgement is part of who God is and He knows that is in us as well. Math 7:1 tells us that and it comes in all sorts of diverse ways.
I must confess I shamed people to shut them up when they tried to share truth by asking are you perfect? No lover of truth can answer yes.
He has delivered me from the shame of my past, and always try to remember who I was so I will know who I shouldn’t be.


This is interesting for me as I’m very aware of the honour-shame culture in the Middle East and took it as a given that that’s not what we have in the West. In terms of church cultures, I think I’ve been fortunate to have experienced very grace filled churches. In the wider cultural context of secular society, my initial thought was again that I don’t recognise this honour-shame or cancel culture. This is because I instantly thought of the opposite: the permissive culture, where everything is accepted and differences are apparently encouraged and celebrated. However, on consideration, I realise that this is only true if one agrees and celebrates with every difference. If, as a Christian, I was to vocalise that I didn’t agree with a social value, I would expect to have my place cancelled in my secular social circles to some extent. I don’t think this is the worst thing to face although it would be sad. My biggest concern here is to maintain open doors to people so that I have an opportunity to share Jesus.

However on the flip side, because the honour-shame/cancel culture isn’t prominent in my thinking, I also don’t think I fully understand what it means to be honoured by Jesus. I mean, I understand the definition, but I don’t think I fully comprehend how great an honour this is because that’s not been prominent in my worldview. For example, when James and John’s mother asks Jesus if one can sit at his right and the other at his left, she asks because in their culture this is a highly considered issue, impacting identity and authority and status. For me, that’s just not an issue, so I imagine some of the significance is lost on me. Certainly this makes me want to explore further what it means to be honoured by Jesus. I think of Jesus’ acceptance and love for me but not really on how he might honour me- it’s never crossed my mind really!

I’m not sure if these exactly answer your questions but these are the things that occur to me as I contemplate your questions. I wonder if anyone else has a similar cultural experience as me?