What Does It Mean To Be “Culturally Affirming”?

What does it mean to affirm behaviors? Which behaviors? Which culture?

“The issue is what kinds of behaviors we will affirm. Will we be holy in all our culture as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15), or will we affirm all ways of living inherited from our forefathers (1 Peter 1:18), ignoring those that embody immoral values?”


I was recently directed to a blog post that rejoiced in the fact that certain segments of conservative evangelicalism were becoming more “culturally affirming.” The specific incident the author cited involved an institution changing its philosophy of music from a more conservative to a more progressive one.

So this got me thinking: what did this author mean by “culturally affirming”?

Well, what is culture? Very simply, culture is the behavior of a people. It is what a group of people do in common. It is habits, customs, arts, and traditions. (For a far more thorough development of this understanding of culture, see this post and this article.)

If culture is human behavior, then Christians must recognize certain biblical realities:

  1. Behavior always results from beliefs and values.
  2. Behavior is always moral or immoral.
  3. The behavior that embodies unbelief is corrupt.
  4. Christian behavior must be holy.

So what, then, does it mean to be “culturally affirming”? What does it mean to affirm behaviors? Which behaviors? Which culture? Did this author mean that the group he has in mind didn’t affirm any behavior before they changed? Or is it that they didn’t affirm the kinds of behaviors he deems worthy?

Do conservative Christians affirm culture? Of course. Conservative Christians affirm all sorts of behaviors that embody and express truth, virtue, and beauty.

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