My public support for Jennifer Knapp, and some thoughts on sin

April 14, 2010

church / culture / music

If you follow such developments, you may have seen the Christianity Today interview with Jennifer Knapp in which she discussed her return to music, her faith, and her homosexuality. Naturally, discussions began in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook, and any number of other places (many mention her own Twitter account).

I’ve followed this discussion, not because I’m a fan of Jennifer Knapp’s music (I don’t have anything against it, but it’s not my scene) but because I’m passionately interested in the potential for Christians to show love to the GLBT community, not because they want to evangelize them but because they are people and because many of them are (or would like to be) part of the church. For more on this, read Andrew Marin’s blog and his book.

Now, the reason I’m posting on this is a particular person’s Tweets that I saw directed to Jennifer Knapp. I’m sure these are not the worst she’s received, but they are the worst that I saw. I post them here as they appeared, split into two tweets because the first is more than 140 characters, followed by the second.

@jennifer_knapp my wife & still love you & are praying 4 you. We know all of your songs. May you see the truth & turn back 2 Jesus before

@jennifer_knapp it’s 2 late. Jesus loves you but whoever practices sin never knew him.

Consecutive tweets directed to Jennifer Knapp

I want you to read them a couple of times.

First, this person says he and his wife love Jennifer Knapp, are praying for her, and know all of her songs. Great. Then, he expresses hope that she’ll turn back to Jesus, because whoever practices sin never knew him.

A quick story: I met Jesus in a fairly dramatic fashion during high school. In my mind, I made an intense break between the Christianity I had previously been acquainted with and this new thing I had encountered, so I entered it with a lot of naïveté that was both good and bad. Anyway, a few months after this happened, I was sitting in a specific service with a guest speaker at the church I attended. Pentecostals love altar calls. Often to their deep benefit, and often less so. This particular altar call was a simple statement, when everyone was supposed to have their eyes closed: “Raise your hand if you have sin in your life.” Knowing myself, I raised my hand. Then I looked around, and realized that no one else did.

Assuming that the 200 or so other folks knew something I didn’t, I put my hand down. Eventually I learned that many times Christians, often with good intentions, make themselves feel better by making a distinction between individual actions of sin and a habitual lifestyle of sin. It occurs to me that these tweets may come from a similar sentiment.

Eventually, I recovered, learned about the extravagant grace of God, and stopped caring what anyone thought about my sin. I have sin in my life. So do you. I’ll die with sin in my life. So will you. None of it will keep us from knowing Jesus. The Spirit will deal with it.

Moving on, this post is not designed to reflect on whether or not homosexuality is a sin. I’m not interested in the question, for reasons like these from Rachel and others, some scholarly and exegetical and others very practical.

Instead, I want to offer love; peace and grace; and indeed, public support to Jennifer Knapp. She deserves it from all of us. If you bought her older music, buy the new stuff. Listen to it. Love and support her and her partner. You don’t need to tell her about your interpretations of Leviticus, or of Romans 1, or any of the other four passages that folks use to determine their thoughts on homosexuality. She knows those interpretations, and she knows the alternatives, whichever side you may be on. She is clearly a person gracefully seeking to live out her own salvation. You can do the same.

There is a fairly unique opportunity for the church in this situation, in that fans of Contemporary Christian Music haven’t dealt with someone who is, whether they like it or not, a Christian artist and a lesbian. They can choose to show her support with love and humility, knowing that she is their sister, or they can choose to shoot her down and drive her away over something that will never keep her from knowing and loving Jesus.

Grace to us all.