Signs of Christian Evolution? A not so straight and narrow Church

As reported on today’s CNN another Christian music artist, Jennifer Knapp, has come out of the closet and announced that she is homosexual.

After selling about a million records and winning at Christian music’s prestigious Dove Awards in 1999, the Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter simply vanished in 2003 — leaving fans wondering where she had gone. There were countless theories as to why Knapp checked out, including the possibility of illness.

But the one that raised the most ruckus among her die-hard fans was the one which proved to be true: Jennifer Knapp is gay.

So, far I haven’t seen too much ruckus, but give it time. It’s a comin’. Yet a breaking article on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s website was surprisingly even-handed. Could this be a sign that a new, broader Evangelical mindset is evolving?

CNN was able to find some typical neo-Evangelical criticism, but when you consider the name of this fellow’s organization, what would you expect?

Rev. DL Foster is the founder of the Gay Christian Movement Watch Web site and said he believes as society has become more accepting of homosexuality, Knapp and other artists are finding it easier to go public.

“For a person to try and combine [being gay and being a Christian music artist] is not biblically correct, and I would hope that the church would reject such music because it does not represent us,” he said. “To me, it doesn’t matter if you are openly gay or closeted gay, sin is still sin.”

I find it interesting that what made her so endearing to her fans before, her music and her lyrics, have now apparently become unworthy for holy ears. It’s not like she wasn’t gay when she wrote them. But Knapp isn’t surprised.

Knapp said she realizes that some fans will now view her earlier work with lyrics about inner turmoil as evidence of the struggle between her beliefs and her sexuality. But she says she has always struggled as a person of faith to be the person she wants to be, and her sexuality was only a part of that, she said.

God has always known she would walk this path, Knapp said.

“I would rather be judged before God as being an honest human being,” she said. “If I am in any way unpleasing in his sight, I can only hope and pray that he gives me the opportunity to find who I am supposed to be.”

As already noted, Knapp isn’t the first Christian music artist brave enough to declare their sexual orientation is outside of the neo-Evangelical mainstream:

In 2008, Christian singer/songwriter Ray Boltz came out as a gay man after a 20-year career in the industry. In 2009, gospel star Tonex went public with his homosexuality as a guest on “The Lexi Show,” a popular program on the Christian channel The Word Network.

Lexi, who is also a gospel music artist, said that while many in the Christian music industry are aware of who is gay, “we don’t talk about it, because that’s the unspoken rule.”

Lexi said she doubts most fans will ever fully embrace an openly gay artist, but she points to other artists who have been able to straddle the line between secular music and songs of faith.

“I think some Christians will totally avoid [Knapp] and say that she is the devil and all that, but there are some that are more open who will embrace her new material,” Lexi said. “Then she will find a new audience.”

Undoubtedly she already has. But I think what we are seeing are more signs that the traditional Evangelical (and Roman Catholic) churches are going to have to find new audiences.

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  1. #1 by Dianna on May 18, 2010 - 12:29 pm

    I slept on this last night and there were a few other things I wanted to say, I used to remember my pastor saying “It’s not about me” and I believe as Christians living in America with instant gratification we have forgotten about what Christianity means to lay down our life for the gospel as Christ did and put aside our personal feelings. I remember pastors used to preach about it’s not about our feelings but it’s about obedience. We have to remember about all those missionaries who gave their life for the gospel and all the disciples who died a martyrs death accept for John. I almost feel like we are making the gospel “a feel good gospel”.

    Also, I think this is leading us down a slippery slope of not believing in the inerrancy of the scriptures. If we allow this what next pediphillia if someone says I can’t help feeling this way, etc.

    I do believe it was the right thing for Jennifer to come out and the exodus ministy has a good statement about this:
    http://blog.exodusinternational.org/2010/04/19/responding-to-jennifer-knapp/
    I believe we can never be truly healed and able to deal with our stuff until we own up to it and bring it the the light of Jesus!
    I grieve in my Spirit for the church and the onssault of attack from the enemy I am seeing attack her as I’ve never seen before and I feel this is only the beginning, God help us and be with us in these last days Oh Lord, Amen!

    • #2 by ric booth on May 19, 2010 - 9:11 am

      I believe we can never be truly healed and able to deal with our stuff until we own up to it and bring it the the light of Jesus!

      I agree with this statement, Dianna. However, we do not actually want to do this for ourselves, personally. We are pretty good at seeing where others might need to do this but we have a blind spot for our own sins.

      For example, if we insist on the inerrancy of scripture and the seriousness of homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.)

      … then we must treat greed with the same fervor. That is, even the appearance of greed must demand repentance or expulsion (from the pedestal of Christian leadership and role model). But we are unwilling to judge greed harshly in our American church.

      I’m not necessarily calling this lack of harshness (with respect to greed) a bad thing. I am necessarily calling it inconsistent and hypocritical. I personally think we should pay closer attention to 1 Corinthians 6:11 and understand that to be the main point.

      • #3 by Christian Beyer on May 19, 2010 - 9:34 am

        Right. I think part of the problem is that we usually take one of two paths here: either we see all of ourselves as depraved and immoral and then fall into a legalistic game of counting our sins against our good deeds or we tend to not think of ourselves as sinners.

        After all, I’m not a homosexual or a male prostitute right? (And, remember, Paul did not use the word ‘homosexual’ – he meant something that contextually is a bit different than what that word means today). And I ‘m certainly no thief – I’ve not robbed any banks or picked any pockets lately. Of course, when I take exorbitant profits from the sale of something (let the buyer beware etc) that’s not theft. Or swindling. Or greed. That’s just the way of the world.

        • #4 by ric booth on May 19, 2010 - 10:52 am

          You’re right about the 2 knee-jerk responses: more legalism/superficial interpretations or more chameleon interpretations. I think these are easier than digging for a deeper meaning.

          Kind of like the difference between “plot” and “moral” or a story. In high-school, we could nail the plot questions but the meaning of the short story would be more difficult to lift out.

          The other thing we lose sight of here in the 21st century is Paul was writing to A CHURCH. Which means their struggle with sin was raging within their walls. (except no walls yet…needed funding from Rome for that) If we would only acknowledge that sin is raging just as much within our walls today, we might not get so bound-up.

  2. #5 by Christian Beyer on May 18, 2010 - 5:31 pm

    “Also, I think this is leading us down a slippery slope of not believing in the inerrancy of the scriptures. If we allow this what next pediphillia if someone says I can’t help feeling this way, etc.”

    Well, I stopped believing in the inerrancy of scripture some time ago, and then I only believed it very briefly. That being said, I seriously doubt that it is a belief in the Bible that is keeping us from engaging in aberrant behavior like pedophilia. Both the Protestant and Catholic examples have shown this to be the case. And then there is the matter of interpretation of this ‘innerant’ scripture. After all, Solomon was a bigamist and Abraham was a wife swapper.

    But you make a good point: idealogical zealots are the problem, on all sides. Some examples: pro-choice people who wont allow restrictions on partial birth abortion. Pro-lifers who want the morning after pill banned (or Catholics who won’t allow contraception). Elements of the Gay lobby who won’t condemn the MBLA. And parents who shun their children who come out of the closet.

    “Last days”, huh? I wouldn’t be so sure (though things do look a little worse for the planet these days). We’ve been waiting for them for 2,000 years. Perhaps it makes better sense to ignore those fears and hope we might fix this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. Only one way to do that and you said it: we need to remember that “It’s not about me.” Sure, it’s about God. But the only way we can show that is to realize it’s about other people, even those people who we disagree with or call enemies. Or more commonly, those people who we tend to ignore, who we might be taking advantage of, perhaps unknowingly (sin of omission?) in order that we might have security and certain privileges that we take for granted.

  3. #6 by Anthony Buzzard on July 11, 2010 - 7:44 pm

    Perhaps the agony that we feel over those who say they have to be homosexuals because that is “who they are,” might cause us to reflect on how far the church is from Jesus. After all we have replaced his unitarian creed (Mark 12:29) with our own postbiblical creeds. So we would actually not allow Jesus in the church, unless he subscribed to the creed of Nicea– and he would not accept that creed, which is not the creed he affirmed (Mark 12:29). If the church is powerless because it has removed itself from the true Jesus, then no wonder we seem powerless to help the sexually deviant. Of course homosexuality is not not the only sexual sin, and so far adultery is rampant in church too. How about a reappraisal of the whole Christian effort, beginning with the unitarian creed of Jesus in Mark 12:29?

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