My heart was heavy this evening when I read an article at Christianity Today about former CCM artist Jennifer Knapp. Her next album, Letting Go, is being released in May which would be her first since 2001. Not only is she entering back into the music scene, she is publically coming out as a homosexual.
She said about her decision to “come out of the closet.”
I’m just a normal human being who’s dealing with normal everyday life scenarios. As a Christian, I’m doing that as best as I can. The heartbreaking thing to me is that we’re all hopelessly deceived if we don’t think that there are people within our churches, within our communities, who want to hold on to the person they love, whatever sex that may be, and hold on to their faith. It’s a hard notion. It will be a struggle for those who are in a spot that they have to choose between one or the other. The struggle I’ve been through—and I don’t know if I will ever be fully out of it—is feeling like I have to justify my faith or the decisions that I’ve made to choose to love who I choose to love.
Listen, I understand struggle. Christ-followers will always experience a tension between following Christ and following the world. However, I believe that Scripture is clear that we are not to love the world (as in the world’s system and philosophies), and if we do, the love of the Father is not in us, (1 John 2:15). The Apostle John is more direct on this topic earlier when he writes, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth,” (1 John 1:6, ESV).
That obviously isn’t just dealing with homosexuality, but all sin. We all have sin. If we say we don’t we are deceived. However the remedy we have is in Jesus through His cleansing blood. When we sin, we can come to Jesus and confess our sin, and scripture promises that “he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9, ESV).
Catch that last part? Cleansed from all unrighteousness, not to clean us so we can still live as though we’ve been un-cleansed. Again, it doesn’t mean that we won’t sin, but as the Apostle Paul wrote, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2, ESV).
We have been set free from sin, but there will continue to be a battle. Romans 7 outlines that battle. That is key – it’s a battle, we should have the desire to do what is right, (Romans 7:18). Knapp doesn’t seem to have that desire. For it is one thing to struggle with temptation, and quite another to embrace it wholeheartedly and then try to justify it. She does this in her Christianity Today interview when she said:
I find myself between a rock and a hard place—between the conservative evangelical who uses what most people refer to as the "clobber verses" to refer to this loving relationship as an abomination, while they’re eating shellfish and wearing clothes of five different fabrics, and various other Scriptures we could argue about. I’m not capable of getting into the theological argument as to whether or not we should or shouldn’t allow homosexuals within our church. There’s a spirit that overrides that for me, and what I’ve been gravitating to in Christ and why I became a Christian in the first place.
Knapp equates homosexuality with dietary laws given to the Jewish people which is a mistake as there are different types of commands given in the Old Testament. There are others who have also tried to explain away what scripture teaches (both in the Old and New Testament) on this subject. Rather than detailing that here, I would encourage you to read an earlier rebuttal I wrote addressing those attempts. That said, I won’t argue that homosexuals shouldn’t be in the church. I, in fact, want them to come. This isn’t a question of church attendance. A bigger question is what should there role be? Attendance is one thing; membership, service and leadership are quite another.
The larger question yet that begs to be asked and answered is can you be a practicing homosexual and be a Christian? Jennifer Knapp says she has professed Christ. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Later in the chapter Paul writes that there is nothing that can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 8:31, ESV).
I’m reminded, however, of what A.W. Pink wrote in his work, Studies on Saving Faith:
While he is in a state of nature, no man can come to Christ. Though all excellencies, both Divine and human, are found in the Lord Jesus, though He is "altogether lovely" (Song of Solomon 5:16), yet the fallen sons of Adam see in Him no beauty that they should desire Him. They may be well instructed in "the doctrine of Christ," they may believe unhesitatingly all that Scripture affirms concerning Him, they may frequently take His name upon their lips, profess to be resting on His finished work, sing His praises, yet their hearts are far from Him. The things of this world have the first place in their affections. The gratifying of self is their dominant concern. They surrender not their lives to Him. He is too holy to suit their love of sin; His claims are too exacting to suit their selfish hearts; His terms of discipleship are too severe to suit their fleshly ways. They will not yield to His Lordship—true alike with each one of us till God performs a miracle of grace upon our hearts.
Jesus Himself says that not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord” will enter His kingdom, (Matthew 7:21). I believe in the perseverance of the saints, in that all who are once saved, will always be saved. That is those who are truly saints will persevere. Which leads me to a couple of different conclusions for Jennifer Knapp and others in her situation.
Either those who embrace sinful lifestyles such as this never truly knew Jesus, and as Pink writes they “sing His praises, yet their hearts are far from him.” Or, she will repent, and I hope that she does which reminds me of my favorite song by her from her 1998 album, Kansas, entitled “Undo Me,” the chorus goes:
And it’s time
To get down on my knees and pray
"Lord, undo me!"
Put away my flesh and bone
‘Til You own this spirit through me Lord,
May she realize that now is the time to be undone and turn from the homosexual lifestyle and flee to Christ. It’s a good reminder for us all if we allow unrepentant sin crop up in our lives. I am not her judge, but I’m also not free to gloss over what scripture teaches either.
Update: There is an excellent article by Ted Slater over at Boundless Line about Jennifer Knapp’s decision and how those in the church handle those who have same-sex attractions. Quite simply we need to do a better job. He writes:
So now I’m left wondering about Jennifer. And I’m wondering if she has "come out" to the world as a lesbian because she felt inhibited from "coming out" to other Christians as someone struggling with same-sex attraction.
If that’s the case, this is as good a time as any to repent for the way we tend to shun those who experience same-sex attraction. And in any case, it’s as good a time as any to pray that God’s kindness would lead Jennifer to conviction and then repentance that would bear much fruit.
HT: To my friend Brinn Shjegstad for pointing this article out to me.