letting go: jennifer knapp confirms she’s gay to christianity today

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Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

letting go: jennifer knapp confirms she’s gay to christianity today

on a fateful day in 1999, fragile, protected-from-the-evils-of-the-world christians learned of the shock and horror they previously thought unimaginable: amy grant, darling of contemporary christian music, got divorced.

gasp!

shockwaves (yes, i too wish i was exaggerating) rippled through baptist churches from sea to shining sea. after cd-burning parties, a healthy dose of potluck dinner gossip and legions of once-diehard fans disowning their christian pop princess, the lingering effects of a fallen angel still remain in some corners of christendom today.

let us, now, rewind to just a year earlier in 1998. the previously unknown folk rock singer-songwriter jennifer knapp releases what will become one of the seminal christian music albums of the 90s. kansas received immediate critical praise from both the christian music and mainstream world & went on to be certified gold. with its release, knave became yet another christian music darling.

for me personally, the album was a significant piece that is still in regular rotation in my itunes. from songs such as martyrs and thieves to trinity to refine me, there isn’t a track on it that doesn’t stir something deep within me.

let us, now, build a bit of a bridge between subject A (amy grant) and subject B (jennifer knapp). in the latter part of the 90s, subject A was crucified by the christian community for severing her union to a man. just over 10 years later, subject B awaits judgment by a jury of christian peers for publicly announcing she is, in fact, a lesbian.

gasp!

in a very honest, candid interview published yesterday by christianity today, knapp confirmed the rumors that had been making the rounds during her 7-year hiatus from music.

i’m genuinely curious to see what kind of reaction will flow from this. on one hand, knapp’s upcoming album, letting go, isn’t being marketed specifically to christian radio or bookstores, so she’ll avoid some of the scrutiny. on the other hand, though, it’s clear that she’s still got a foot planted firmly in that world, shown by her choice to publicly confirm her sexuality to christianity today (she also gives a worth-the-read interview with the advocate) and choosing to make her first tour a partnership with derek webb (which is a whole other story).

largely, i don’t really think she’ll care too much if we—like the amy grant fallout—see cd burnings and bans from christian bookstores. i think her personal faith trumps the need for christian subculture affirmation. one of the most compelling aspects of the interview with CT is her openness about the strength of her faith. it doesn’t seem as if her faith is any less today than it was when she was putting out her inherently “christian” albums. certainly, it’s safe to say that there are changes in her faith, but that doesn’t assume it’s any less strong or significant in her life. frankly, it’s likely stronger and more fully-realized after the—in her words—”struggle” she’s been through over the last 8ish years in making the decision to embrace her same-sex feelings.

for those who are learning of this news for the first time now and have a negative visceral reaction because of your faith convictions, allow me to pose a couple questions. first, if you’ve ever enjoyed her music or been moved or felt a faith connection with her music, let me ask you what you assume is any different now due to the fact that she loves a person of the same gender? what truths are undone? what scriptures are cheapened by her melodies? how is what moved you prior to this knowledge any less compelling now that you know this information?

second, what are the bounds of truth? are there places where truth cannot or does not exist? if god is present and working in all things, then where does truth cease to reveal itself? could it be, that—even if we conclude that homosexuality is the most vile & god-defiling sin of all—the faith of jennifer knapp is still able to create music and words and poetry and melodies that point toward the god revealed in the scriptures?

jennifer knapp is an incredible singer and songwriter that has deeply impacted the faith of both my youth and now my adult life. my story joins countless others. i’m glad that, now, she can live a truth instead of a lie. i’m glad that she’s processing life through the lens of honesty and openness and candid dialogue, rather than fear and uncertainty.

my prayer is that, now, the christian community can embrace those values as well.

11 Comments

  1. erniebufflo says:

    I've been meaning to write a blog about this, but I once spent a summer working as a "Sales Floor Leader" for Family Christian Store. While I could probably write a book about my time in Holy Roller Retail, this one vignette is applicable: a woman came in, and she'd liked a cd of reworked hymns and wanted something similar. I knew Amy Grant had a new album of hymns out, and I liked it, so I recommended that. She acted like I'd just suggested she buy a KISS cd. "I don't listen to Amy Grant anymore because she got divorced." I said, "Well, ma'am, I hate to tell you, but Jesus Christ never recorded an album, so we don't carry any sinless artists in this store."

  2. Chris says:

    I have a really hard time with this post. I could care less if Amy Grant got divorced. I feel bad for her, but it happened, move on.

    The Jennifer Knapp deal.. Is there really a point when a Christian can accept that they are a homosexual or lesbian. Scripture is pretty clear about what God thinks of sexual immorality. It's about God's point of view, not our own. We all struggle, that's not the point, but to just accept it, quit fighting to try to please God in our sexuality too? It is a sin. We have to fight in every area of our lives to please God.

  3. Morgon77 says:

    Actually, scripture isn't that clear about what God thinks on the subject.

    The OT laws are in tune with who the Hebrews were at the time, and we don't observe any of them outside of the 10 Commandments anymore. You can't pull evidence from Leviticus about this subject unless you're willing to take all of it, including the eating of shellfish, touching pig skin, wearing mixed fibers, and stoning disobedient children.

    The new Testament verses are contextual, and none of them talk about people in specific monogamous relationships…they all deal with perversity and loose/selfish living. In fact, the one verse that comes close specifically says that because these people refused to recognize God, they were given over to such living.

    I don't see Jennifer Knapp as soembody who refused to recognize God, or is trying to live outside of His calling.

    The point of being a disciple is not to "not sin", but to actively live in a way that emulates Christ, which is an active life. We spend far too much time trying to be pure, and not nearly enough trying to be human. (Christ, being the son of Man, is the epitome of what it is to be human).

  4. Chris says:

    Morgon77, thanks for the reply. While there is room for interpretation on the scriptures concerning homosexuality.. none of them shine a positive light on it. I believe the NT scriptures you say are contextual do show the act to be wrong. I believe it to be about the act, not the situation around the act. Does it matter whether it's within a monogamous relationship or not? Homosexuality is a sin like any other, none is greater than another. It's not my point to put this one on a pedestal.

    I agree, a Christian's goal shouldn't be to "not sin", but there is nothing wrong with leading an active life emulating Christ and trying to please Him by not sinning.

  5. Morgon77 says:

    The only passage which actually discusses homosexual sex is in Romans, and historically is actually refering to the temples dedicated to various gods of lust. The other passages which are translated as having to do with that sort of behaviour use greek words which we have no modern translation for.

    If we're going to rule based on single usage of verses about things like this, then we can't have women talking in church, and we need to own slaves, correct? Otherwise, context would appear to rule…

  6. Joshhearrin says:

    Well, guess we'll need some kerosene and a few matches tonight at youth group…

  7. Chris says:

    Forget the 'clobber' scriptures. Genesis 1.. God created man and woman. The pattern is set. This is a clear picture of a sexual relationship. Homosexuality in the bible is always mentioned in the context of sin. It can't be explained away as a gray area because of man muddying the scriptures, no modern translation, etc. in favor of personal preference or the path of least resistance.

    Again, my point here is not condemnation. It is one of many sins, struggles that Christians have.

    • Shannon says:

      As for God setting the pattern of he mad e them male and female… If you have passed your 10 grade English class, the phrase Male and female He created them gets parsed this way…

      subject He [meaning God]
      verb: made
      object of sentence: them
      adjective phrase: male and female [is applied to the object of the sentence: them]

      My 10th grade English teacher would say that the sentence is “He made them male and female.” male and female bing a description of how He made -them-. He made -them- male -and- female. What ever He did he did to all of the objects that composed “them.” Our understanding is that “them” is adam and eve.

      He made adam and eve male and female. There is NO scripture that says He made adam, male and eve, female.

  8. Morgon77 says:

    So, since my wife and I are unable to be fruitful and multiplied, we should be celibate, correct? Trying to argue otherwise denies that Adam and Eve were fruitful, and were directly told by God to be so. So as a sterile couple, we have no business having sex, correct?

    To suggest that it it's okay for us to have sex just because we're straight ignores the setup. The described point of sex in Gensis 1 is specifically to produce off spring.

    Mind you, the point of sex in SoS is specifically because I love and enjoy that person, and offspring never enters the picture. Hrm.

    In fact, my opinion would be that Genesis says nothing about the sexual relationship. What Genesis gives us is a picture of God's creation of the world, and the setting forth of reproduction, continued creation and improvement within the created order. Sex, Love, Intimacy, etc. appear nowhere in Genesis, and in fact pretty quickly it gets pretty harsh and nasty.

    Both Paul and Christ repeatedly say not to judge, yet many Christians somehow figure out a way to say "except when I do it". So that's okay.

    Divisiveness is expressly forbidden in the NT repeatedly, yet our churches are full of it.

    Jesus makes it really clear that calling somebody a fool, or having scorn for them in our hearts is anathema, and yet…

    So these things, these corrupting, dangerous, prideful things…they're okay. But something that's never mentioned in the context of loving relationships, that's unallowed? Hrm.

    Most of the gay couples I've known are incredibly loving, hopeful, helpful, joyous people who work very hard not to engage in divisiveness, or judgment, or scorn. They're actually pretty humble, a lot of the time. But, because of something they do in the bedroom, they're worse than the rest of us?

  9. Chris says:

    Not all sex is fruitful. Does a fertile couple get pregnant each time they have sex? The God-given desire for sex in us is going to push us to act no matter whether the intent is to be fruitful or not… The SoS sex is also between a man and woman. There's nothing in scripture to stand on to support homosexuality. You can explain away the only scriptures concerning it we have as contextual to make way for personal preference as stated before.

    My posts are not an attack on homosexuals. I'm not saying they are worse than myself. This topic was on one particular act, not about a person being worse for committing an act. It says nothing about a person's ability to be hopeful, joyful, etc. We all sin. We've all fallen short. We're all equal. I completely agree with you on judging, divisiveness, etc. We need much help.

    It was not my intent to have a debate in the comments. To disagree agreeably is our only option..

  10. Morgon77 says:

    I suppose my question is, if somebody is in a committed homosexual relationship (which is never mentioned anywhere in the bible) how is that sin?

    Since all of the homosexual acts mentioned in the bible are in context of either fornication or prostitution, are they still a clear condemnation of this?

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