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.