The word ‘affirming’ has become one of those ugly, politically charged words that bring on a new (and incorrect) cultural understanding of the word’s original intent in definition and usage.
The culture war definition of Affirming: Similar to reconciliation, in that all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are born with a same-sex attraction, acting out on those attractions is not a sin, and living in a same-sex committed monogamous relationship is a happy, healthy, God-ordained way of life. And whoever does not agree with any of these statements in homophobic or out of touch with reality.
In essence ‘affirming’ means to completely agree with another’s definition of what is correct and acceptable. In the case of the culture war it would be what is considered, from a GLBT perspective, as a ‘pro-gay theological belief system.’ For more details in that belief system see Love is an Orientation, Chapter 4 or read this.
But that is not what affirming means, nor hits on its intent either!
My bridge building definition of Affirming: Validating one’s experiences that have led them to their current psychological, emotional, spiritual and social states as legitimate to them.My understanding is that affirming was never meant to be a whole-hearted leap to believe what the ‘other side’ (in either direction) deems as the solely acceptable personal, theological and historical baseline worldview of a social construct (though in this case Affirming is being used specifically by the GLBT community). Rather, its original intent was meant to be an affirmation in one’s experiences, thoughts and perceptions.
But there is an extreme invalidation pandemic running rapid throughout this culture war.
Many people/organizations within both communities don’t want to know anything about what it means to validate (actually, the correct cultural (not culture war) definition in this case would be ‘affirm’) the other, because that is seen as ‘giving in’ (capitulating seems to be a favorite word of many) to the other’s “ludicrous demands and evil agenda.” This is ridiculous; and quite confusing at times. Thus, we are now able to see why there is such a need to have a clear, and culturally accurate definition of these politically divisive and exorbitantly sensitive words; because this current culture war is leading hot-button vocabulary in the wrong direction.
The uniqueness of this word in the culture war is such that my bridge building definition of ‘affirming’ is actually the culture war definition of ‘validation.’ I speak extensively of the difference between validation and affirmation, and for an expansion of these thoughts, see some past posts here.