Tuesday, 13 April 2010

jennifer knapp: coming out and letting go

It's the hottest, and arguably most divisive, topic of Christianity over recent years: homosexuality and what place (if any) those who come to it could find in an increasingly tumultuous Christian sub-culture. And let me tell you: I've already encountered the debate three times today alone! It is one that I dare not express an opinion on, because I genuinely don't know where to fall. On one hand, it seems so black and white; on the other, Christ, whilst on earth, showed love and embraced everyone who came to Him. Absolutely everyone.

I'm not ashamed to highlight that members of my extended family are gay, and interestingly their experiences are hugely different. But it is a debate I would rather leave God to continue to reveal love and solutions in and to, as time passes. Not that I don't recognise the damage the same debate causes; I was listening to an old Mark Driscoll sermon from a couple of years ago, where he mentions that the moment when he decided to get out, of what would go on to become the Emergent Village, was the moment whenever cemented, solid doctrine was being questioned casually. He highlights some examples: things like Jesus' divinity, the reality of hell, and the Biblical response to homosexuality.

It is that big a struggle.

Huge respect, then, to Jennifer Knapp for her heart-rendingly honest and open interview with Christianity Today for the April issue, available online in its entirety. I knew a bit of Knapp's work, most notably her duet with Mac Powell for the song, Sing Alleluia, which has the dubious honour of being a worship record that I don't completely hate. (Because I'm so cool, so I hate all you weak Christians and your poorly-structured, rambling choruses. Joke.) However, I wasn't previously aware of her disappearance, seven years ago, off the face of the earth, burnt out from touring and in need of a long break. But in the sudden peace and solitude, with time to deal with having a personal life and relationship with God again, this inspirational, multi-award-winning, hugely popular Christian singer-songwriter revealed she had an even bigger struggle to work through: she was a lesbian.

And while it had not factored in her decision to go on hiatus, she knew when she came back it would have to be dealt with - and she does so openly and honestly. I won't comment on her personal journey in faith, but I admire immensely the volume to which she refers to God's grace and mercy as she discusses it in the interview. To have returned to the Christian culture in the States with such a sack to drag around, she has also demonstrated huge courage.

To be Christian, and a Christian in such a public area of ministry as performance, and to have to cope with such a hindrance (for others, mind you, not her) could arguably give her an incredibly important testimony. But we can be sure that for many evangelicals, particularly in the States, she might as well have become a Jihadist.

The machine rages on.

(Massive hat-tip to the great @JesusNeedsNewPR for the linkage to the article.)



Andy Boal said...

Very very brave of Jennifer to come out like that. I've come to realise in the last few years that much of the Church simply doesn't have the faintest clue about how to deal with members who are "sinning" (whether theoretical or actual).

To point the finger and say how dreadful it is that Jimmy is sleeping with Janie, and Annie is sleeping with Milly ignores why people are doing that in the first place, everything from identity to history, and even worse, sets sexual behaviour on a pedastal as being apparently the most important thing to "get right".

It leads to people leaving church because they only find condemnation in the form of "stop it or you don't belong" and others see the behaviour of the church, and hide their sin so as to "fit in".

The Church should be a place where people can be honest about their struggles, or as necessary, honest about not struggling in the slightest, they're perfectly happy as they are.

Sometimes I think it's sufficient for all parties to know the truth without being reminded of it, and to let God do his thing from there with people who are welcomed as they are into the Church, not with preconditions.

As for all the people who will line up to say how dreadful it is that Jennifer has come out as gay - what about your own dreadful sins? Can you honestly say that you're any better just because you're either married or unmarried and still a virgin? Can you honestly say that you have not sinned deliberately since you became a Christian?

A Queer Folk Art Activist said...

Thanks for your post on Jennifer. I've written a great deal on her coming out, here:

Zach said...

I agree with Mark Driscoll and your summary that Christ accepted everyone who came to Him. However, he always responded with the command to go and sin no more.

Related posts