Friday, April 16, 2010

The Ballad of Jennifer Knapp

During my college years at Wheaton, we had some pretty amazing bands stop by to play concerts. I can remember being deeply disappointed when I had to miss the Jars of Clay show that featured Jennifer Knapp. Though I only ever owned one of her albums, I always resonated with her vulnerability and appreciated her honesty about her own sin. Lyrics like "There are ghosts in my past who have owned more of my soul than I thought I had given away / They linger in closets and under my bed and in pictures less proudly displayed" aren't exactly your usual K-LOVE fare. But then a few years ago when I tried to look her up to see if she had come out with anything new, I found that her website had been taken down and her Wikipedia entry said something cryptic about her veritable disappearance. Apparently, she had been sucked into the CCM Bermuda Triangle along with Sixpence None the Richer and First Call.

Amelia, it was just a false alarm.

I was genuinely shocked upon reading this interview in Christianity Today (thanks to Jenny K. for the heads-up) to read that Jennifer Knapp is not only coming out with a new album after nine years; she is also coming out. That's right. She's a lesbian. In this (I thought) quite objective interview, Knapp alludes to her latest project but mostly fields questions about this revelation about her sexuality. I'm sure this is the last thing she really wants to talk about--she essentially says as much, maintaining that she is a very private person--but as a former CCM artist and present-day Christian, these are the questions her listeners as well as her brothers and sisters in Christ want answers to. And so do I.

Though I definitely find it a stretch to compare the Bible's take on homosexuality to its stance on eating shellfish or wearing clothes made of mixed fibers (as Knapp does in the interview), I realize there's no point in me trying to evaluate her "Christian-ness." She still loves Jesus and trusts in His sacrifice. From there, only God can say where she stands before Him. We are all sinners and every Christian I've ever known has continued to sin even after entering into that saving relationship with Christ.

So here's my primary question: how does the Church deal with gay Christians who do not acknowledge acting upon homosexuality as sin? Do we Matthew 18 that puppy--confront the person about the sin and then "if he refuses to listen, even to the church, then treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector"? And for that matter, how do we treat the pagan and the tax collector? With love and respect, I hope--but as an outsider? So many churchgoing Christians engage in habitual, lifestyle sins. Is this the sin that breaks the camel's back?

And will you listen to Knapp's new album? How about if you don't have to buy it and support her lady-lovin' lifestyle? I wonder what she has to say, and I don't think her being gay means she can't have any relevant lyrics...but my filters will definitely be up.


  1. This has been of my mind of late as well. Not this particular instance, but of a neighbor. I've been reading 1 Corin. lately, and came across 5:1-13. At one point St. Paul says, "I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people, not at all referring to the immoral of this world or the greedy and robbers or idolaters; for you would then have to leave the world. But I now write to you not to associate with anyone named a brother, if he is immoral, greedy, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard, or a robber, not even to eat with such a person. For why should I be judging outsiders? Is it not your business to judge those within? God will judge those outside. Purge the evil person from your midst."

    Strong words, but at the same time, when such a Christian (especially one with her standing) "in our midst" follows such a lifestyle, they do much damage within the Church. They can lead others astray, and make it sound as if this really is ok. And we know it's not.

    Personally, I feel that this can be the sin that breaks the camel's back, along with any other sexual immorality. Again in 1 Corin this time 6:18-19, "Aviod immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?"

    It's possible Knapp has been misinformed as to what the Church teaches. In that case, yes we do "Matthew 18 that puppy". And we treat them with all the love and respect that their human dignity requires, but as an outsider. Sometimes this love and respect requires that. In the hopes that they will turn from their sins and come home.

    Sorry about such a long comment. I tend to think as I write. ;-)

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, Candice! Really sound biblical reasoning. I do think a Christian in her position has vast potential to lead other believers astray, especially if they too are struggling in this area. Which is part of why I was really saddened to read the interview.

  3. My thoughts are this: just because you "announce" that you are gay, doesn't necessarily mean you are living in sin, unless she has come right out and says she is living with someone. If we "know" outright that she is living in sin by her stating so then maybe an association with her or her music should not be encouraged. However, if she is stating something she is dealing with...just like alcoholism, drugs ect. and that is her "cross" then she is just like the rest of us, struggling to live a good Christian life struggles and temptations included! I haven't read the article so I don't know the details but for what I know right now, I would support her. Jenn N

  4. I agree with you Jenn, and I haven't read the article either. And we can't really assume another person is living in sin. But from what Sarah said about it, it sounds like she (Knapp) is trying to justify being a lesbian by comparing it to eating shellfish, ect (something the bible says we should not do, but we do). This is obviously a very different subject than what we eat. Again, it's possible she is misinformed as well, and in that case needs to be led in the right direction.

    We all have our struggles, our crosses, and we should support and pray for each other in these. We are called to love and have compassion for each other. But when someone who holds a certain amount of clout tries to justify their actions, and ultimately jades others, then I can't support that. It would be different if she were to say, "I'm gay, I have a certain amount of temptations, and I ask for your prayers to overcome these." But it doesn't sound like she's doing that. Again, I haven't read the article, and I don't know the whole story, but my beef is with her ability to sell false teachings to others who may not be too sure on what truth is.

  5. She has said she has been with her partner for eight yes, she is definitely "practicing" the gay lifestyle.

  6. I've been thinking a lot about this over the weekend. This is a tough situation. I guess I look at the life of Jesus and he associated the MOST with those that needed him the most. The leper, the prostitutes ect. I think surrounding yourself with people who are not Christian would make life very difficult. Just as surrounding yourself with those who are like yourself in faith, strenthens you. I think there is defiantely a balance. As far as Jennifer Knapp goes, I think you have the right idea Sarah! Listening but with caution!

    My own brother is gay and accociates the most with those who are like himself. He has also left the church. I love him, and am close to him, and am forever praying and hoping for his own conversion of faith!!!