How To View The Call-Out Culture?

How To View The Call-Out Culture?

Pastor Vincent - 26 June 2021

Weekend Devotion: How To View The Call-Out Culture?

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Now, calling out someone for their wrongdoing or socially unacceptable behavior has become a culture in today’s world, whether it is with regard to racism, harassment, abuses, traffic offenses or it can be anything as common as a crude and thoughtless comment made by someone on the internet. People can just call out those acts, or provide some one-sided account of an incident and generate a negative public sentiment against those acts. Such a culture is made possible because of the internet where at the click of a button, information can be disseminated in tens of thousands in a matter of seconds. And the society term this the call-out culture.


Now, many see this as a form of exercising their rights and justices, and usually in the name of helping the vulnerable or those who suffer injustice in silence. It’s deemed as a new and faster way of achieving social justice through generating public sentiments. So it seems that we’ve more “public police” now with internet vigilantes and netizens calling out unacceptable norms and behaviors.


Now, I’m not a fan of this call-out culture, and I could see such a culture has become toxic.




Because anyone can make out something exaggeratingly or call-out something he or she doesn’t like. But at the heart of the question is: Can everyone, or any man on the street become an arbitrator of right and wrong?


Now, there are authorities and enforcers where we could report atrocious or unacceptable act. But if anyone with the ability to generate public sentiments can just stir up a public opinion with some sort of calling out, the world is not going to be a better place. In fact, it will become an uglier one. For one, people will retaliate. And before we know it, the whole call-out culture is going to be so prevalent and we will end up with a society without love and mercy.


Think about this.


Why should we shame another person who does wrong in a public setting like the internet?


What is the intention of that person?


Is it for a mere sense of justice, or is it for vengeance?


And to those who love to call out others, what makes you more righteous just because someone didn’t call you out for your dark and secret deeds?


So at the heart of this culture, I can’t help feeling that its more of being judgmental than to uphold righteousness. 


Now, let me just give a very simple biblical view about how things should work out instead of merely being call out. Let’s go to a short passage in <Mat 18:15-17> where it talks about dealing with sin in the church.

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.


Now, the biblical account here started out with a brother who sins against us. Obviously, it would have caused some grievances to us. But the Bible didn’t say: “Call him out, tell everyone about it”. Nothing that suggest that. Yet, for the sake of justice, and also out of love and respect for another fellowman, we are told to approach that brother in private, to give him the benefit of the doubt or if need be, seeks correction on his part. And the best scenario would be that he could be brought to repentance before God and man.


Now, the result of it is a closer and more trusted relationship. But over here, there is a contingency instruction as in if that brother doesn’t respond positively or righteously toward my engagement, then I should be getting another 2-3 witnesses to preside over this matter. And obviously, the assumption over here is that the 2-3 witnesses should be unbiased in this whole matter. They should not be just standing on my side, but standing on the side of justice. And of course, if everything has been shown that the brother is at fault and yet remain impenitence, then the final judgement should be left to the church, which is the larger institution, not a revengeful, shaming activity in retaliation.


Now, although this account is mentioned for a church setting, we know the church always gives the highest standard of justice in view of unjust situation. Now, over here, it suggests nothing about the call-out culture, where its roots stemmed from taking revenge or taking things into our own hands. So over here I will just give a little bit of application to those who felt that the call-out culture is needed because there’re more injustices and abuses that have not been addressed in the society at large.


First, let’s understand that all injustices and grievances, as far as possible, should be settled with a restoration of relationship in mind. A private issue should always be resolved through a private setting. Now, that’s the first and foremost principle. However, we recognize that we’re living in an imperfect world with impenitent sinners, not only toward God, but also toward men. So in this case, if the stubbornness or impenitence goes on, and the heart of the issue remains unresolved, there is a need to involve third parties, and as I’ve said, the 3rd parties have to be impartial. They must not be seen to be taking sides. And these 3rd parties will serve as impartial witnesses if things blow out of proportion. So it is very important to be wise if we’re resolving issues involving grievances. And if mitigation fails, and the issue of injustice remains unresolved, the victim earns the right to report this matter to the higher authority, by which it will enforce its judgment. Now, I believe this is the biblical and also a neater way to resolve conflicts and grievances.


So having said that, the call-out culture should not be given any room in this society. If a church function with maturity where injustices and grievances are being addressed properly by the church leadership, call-out culture (which involves a lot of subjective opinion) will not be given room to rise. And same for a society which is matured. But of course, we know that the world we are living in is not perfect. In fact, it falls short in many areas. And in some cases, the media and public outcry serves as a channel for injustices to be addressed. But let’s differentiate between what is properly addressed by mainstream media, and what is blatantly being called out by individuals or some influencers in the internet. As the Bible says, it is always advisable to be wise with what is good, and innocent about what is evil. 

Pastor Vincent Choo

Vincent is the Senior Pastor of The Life Church and Missions (Singapore) and is an ardent missionary to the Chinese World. He currently lives in Singapore with his wife, Qiufen, and has three kids, Mary, David, and Caleb.

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