In a World of Affirmation...

by - 12:38 PM



It's June. Of course, that means "Pride Month." 

Seemingly, the entire world around us is leaning into the affirmation and celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. One would think this affirmation comes wholly out of true care and concern for the group, but--in reality--there is often more of a capitalistic realization of business and financial gain through the display of a rainbow on company logos.

But I digress.

In recent years, we have seen more and more church denominations and/or individual congregations supporting Pride Month--and beyond that--having deemed themselves "affirming" churches. So, what is an affirming church? Most often, those who have taken a stance of affirmation also align themselves with a movement called "progressive Christianity." According to progressivechristianity.org, one of the main tenets (#3) of progressivism in Christian congregations is as quoted:

        "Seek community that is inclusive of ALL people, including but not limited to:

    • Conventional Christians and questioning skeptics,
    • Believers and agnostics,
    • Women and men,
    • Those of all sexual orientations and gender identities,
    • Those of all classes and abilities."

Their idea of "[seeking] community" is a bit more insidious that one might think, on sight. This does not mean simply befriending and loving (as one should!) those within Pride's realm but rather claiming to enjoy Christian community and regenerate fellowship within the local church body with those who embrace living out their personal expressions of LGBTQ+ in both identity and practice. As true believers know, this would be a false community at best...an embracing of sinners as saints and their sins as sanctification at worst. But alas, this is what makes an "affirming" church thus. [Please note that their statement on "Christian" community extends far beyond those with gender and sexuality issues to non-believers (skeptics and agnostics) as well. This is an oxymoron, no?]

Ultimately, statements like these define LOVE (of neighbor, a la The Greatest Commandment) as AFFIRMATION, and necessarily so...otherwise it's not truly love, in their estimation.

Throughout the Bible, though, love is seen as a covenantal, committed, and sacrificial choice to give of oneself to/for another--not at all affirming a belief or line of decision-making. 

Allow me to detail a non-Pride example of affirmation...something that came to my mind just the other day.

In Gary Thomas's bestselling book, The 5 Love Languages, one of the aforementioned "languages," per se, is "words of affirmation." In fact, that was MY top scorer when I took the test some years ago. The author's premise is that each of us "speaks a different language" when it comes to loving and being loved. He asserts that one will not FEEL as loved by another if that person does not cater to (or learn to "speak") his or her personal love language. In fact, other authors such as Willard F. Harley, Jr. go further, maintaining that there are certain things we actually NEED in order to enjoy a long-lasting and "affair-proof" marriage (from his book His Needs, Her Needs).  

Hogwash.

Personally, I really enjoy words of affirmation. Many people do. They make me feel special and wanted...but at my core, it's the sinful nature that truly craves affirmation. It's my internal pride that wants to be validated. And as far as needs go, let's be real: outside of Christ, I have NEED of nothing. Because my husband and I are both growing believers, he has convenanted to love me as a sister in Christ, as a best friend, and as a 'til-death-do-us-part, one-flesh lover. And I don't NEED for him continually to tell me about all of my good qualities for me to know that his love is true. 

This is because I do not define LOVE as AFFIRMATION.

Now...is it kind of him to do so? To affirm me with his tender words? Of course! However, these words of affirmation should be focused on qualities that are not entangled with sin, in opposition to the affirmation we see celebrated each June. 

With each day forward, we should strive to define love in the very way that God has defined it for us in Scripture. So this month, in a world of affirmation...let's love as Christ commands. And to clarify, the following points are not an exhaustive list of how to do so but merely a few ways that are standing out to me in this moment: 

    1. OBEY CHRIST. 

    • "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
    2. SHOW MERCY.
    • When Jesus gave the Greatest Commandment, He said, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27). Then, in Jesus' immediately illustrating parable of the Good Samaritan, he asked the hearer, "'Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fall among the robbers?' He said, 'the one who showed him mercy.' And Jesus said to him, 'You go, and do likewise'" (Luke 10:36-37).
    3. GENTLY CALL OTHERS TO REPENTANCE.
    • "So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace...correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their sense and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will" (2 Timothy 2:22, 25-26).
    4. LIVE SACRIFICALLY. 
    • "And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:2).

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