Archive for the ‘not affirming’ Tag

What is “Welcoming and NOT Affirming”?

“Welcoming and not affirming” is a murky idea.  As an English teacher, it’s hard to read it and really understand what it means.  We all know what “welcome” is and how to welcome, but it seems “not affirming” is an odd way to express a verb.  It seems important to figure out what “affirming” is and then what “not” doing that would look like.  According to the dictionary, affirming is defined as:

  • State as a fact; assert strongly and publicly
    • he affirmed the country’s commitment to peace
    • he affirmed that she was, indeed, a good editor
    • “Pessimism,” she affirmed, “is the most rational view.”
  • Declare one’s support for; uphold or defend
    • the referendum affirmed the republic’s right to secede
  • Accept or confirm the validity of (a judgment or agreement); ratify
  • Make a formal declaration rather than taking an oath (e.g., to testify truthfully)
  • (of a court) Uphold (a decision) on appeal
  • Offer (someone) emotional support or encouragement
    • there are five common ways parents fail to affirm their children
    • good teachers know that students need to be both affirmed and challenged

Antonyms include: negate, reject, deny, nullify, renounce, refuse, decline

So, “welcoming and not affirming” could just as easily be said as “welcoming and denying ” or “welcoming and rejecting.”  We can probably see that no one wants to have a billboard say that they are both “welcoming and rejecting”….  but in a sense that’s what welcoming and not affirming means.

The other problem with this phrase is that for most evangelicals the adjectives don’t modify the same noun.  What are we “Welcoming” –all people, we might say.  What are we “not affirming”–a sinful lifestyle.  But without the nouns to make a difference, the phrase gets confusing—and we end up saying we are “Welcoming, but not affirming” actual people.  Because we’re not saying we’re “welcoming and not affirming” a lifestyle….  You’re not welcoming a lifestyle into your church are you?

But perhaps there is another definition that we need to consider.

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