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,
Undo me

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.

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  1. A sin is a sin, Shane, theologically speaking all sin is basically a form of idolatry. Homsexuality (or any kind of unchaste sexuality even within marriage) is as much a sin as anything else you put before God… much like caffeine addiction.

    So I guess the real question is, can you be a practicing coffee addict and a Christian? Either you never truly knew Jesus, Shane, or else you will repent and put down that latte and flee to Christ. But until you do, can we real trust a sinful coffee addict in a leadership position in the church? Oh, and all of the above applies to your judgmental attitude towards homosexuals too. I’ll be praying that you repent, Shane.
    .-= Guy Incognito´s last blog ..Dolphin Blues Part I =-.

    1. @Guy Incognito, First off, I’m not a caffeine addict. I say that tongue in cheek. Secondly, I did say that the passages above refer to more than just homosexuality. Thirdly, there is a difference between sinning (which we all do) and embracing it, justifying it, and living as though it is perfectly acceptable.

      Also, did I just say that I am not her judge? Yeah I did. But it doesn’t mean I disregard what scripture teaches, so my call to her would be the same as those who are embezzling funds or who are addicted to pornography – repent.

      I also want to give you a final warning, leaving comments here are a privilege, not a right. I don’t have to put up with personal attacks on my own blog, and this was very borderline. You need to practice some civility.

  2. I’d just like to point out, while we’re on the subject, that nonprocreative sex of any sort, whether within marriage, outside of marriage or homosexual, is equally offensive to the Lord. Even sex between husband and wife without the intention of conceiving is a grave sin (Gen. 38:8–10) punishable by death in the OT. But where are your judgemental screeds against nonprocreative sex within marriage?

    Even procreative sex is bad. Paul encourage celibacy for married couples: “What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none.” 1 Corinthians 7:29

    When he said “time is getting short” he meant that the end of the world was coming, so getting caught up in the sinfulness of sex at all is just a waste of time. And time has only gotten shorter since then, hasn’t it?

    I wouldn’t want to accuse you of anything so vile as nonprocreative sex within marriage, Shane, but hypothetically speaking, if one were to engage in such sinful behavior, and then go on a rant against somebody else’s sexual lapse, would that not make that person a hypocrite?
    .-= Guy Incognito´s last blog ..Dolphin Blues Part I =-.

  3. I might be wrong, Guy, but I think you misunderstood the Gen 38:8-10 passage. Part of the Semetic code (remember, we are prior to the Law in Genesis) required a brother who was able to take in his sister-in-law should her husband die without an heir, and provided a son for her to carry on the name and pass along the “stuff”.

    In this passage, God was not upset with Onan for ‘spilling his seed’ in an act of non-procreative sex, but rather because he was deceiving Judah and not meeting his responsibility. Your interpretation does not fit with the rest of scripture (Song of Solomon, etc.)

    Also, in your reference to I Corinthians 7:29 reference, you grossly took it out of context. If you read before and after the verse, you easily see that Paul continually states that being married and living to please your spouse is not a sin. He never referenced non procreative sex. You inferred that. His point was simply, that if you have the gift of being single, it simplifies your life to freely and exclusively please and follow God. Once you are married, you spend a great deal of time focusing on pleasing and following your spouse (do I hear an Amen?), thus dividing your time.

    Your statement “hat nonprocreative sex of any sort, whether within marriage, outside of marriage or homosexual, is equally offensive to the Lord.”, though a bold assumption, has no basis in scripture beyond cherry picking pieces out of context. It is easy to get confused when you take scripture out of context.

    As for the coffee addiction…I got a chuckle out of that, but you make a good point. If the coffee addiction is placed above your ‘God addiction’, it would definitely be an idolatrous relationship; you would be placing a ‘god’ before Him. God certainly doesn’t want us desiring something or clinging to something in any manner that would cause us to be distracted from worshiping him; after all, that is why he created us…for his pleasure and to worship Him. However, we can see from the I Co 7 reference that you listed that though something may be desirable (being single and free to focus fully on God) not doing it (getting married and splitting your attentions) is not considered sinful (as stated in verses 28 and 36). Though it may be there, I don’t see the reference that would indicate that drinking coffee is an ‘abomination in the eyes of God’ or ‘unnatural’ or sinful. If it is there, please share it with me so that I can read it in context.

    If anything would get in the way of worshiping God or undermine one’s witness, then, yes, I would say that accepting it, embracing it, and/or continuing to practice it would be sinful, and should necessarily exclude one from a leadership role in the church until such a time as that issue were dealt with. The Bible sets very high standards for church leaders and teachers. It also has a simple formula to get back on track; repent and turn from your old ways.


    Yes, I think that homosexuals should be allowed to go to your church. After all, church is full of dirty rotten sinners because there is none that are righteous (no not one).

    Yes, the church leadership should clearly read and interpret scripture that points out very clearly, that it is sinful and an abomination in the eyes of God (as is lying, stealing, lusting, coveting, gossiping, etc.).

    No, homosexuals shouldn’t be singled out any more than other sinners should be, but neither should the issue be ignored, brushed under the carpet, or condoned. If the sinful behavior continues, the steps laid out in Matthew 18 should be followed for dealing with Christian brothers and sisters which does include loving confrontation, and even social isolation within the church body if the sin continues, but as the Gentiles and tax collectors were still allowed into the court of the Gentiles, and proselytized to God does call on Christians to continue loving them, praying for them, and speaking the truth in love…whether it hurts or not.

    No, I think it is unscriptural and wrong to say that the Bible teaches that non-procreative sex is sinful, or even bad. If you doubt this, read Song of Solomon and then tell me that that speaks of intimacy for the sole sake of procreation. You cannot do it with a straight face.

    Sorry it went so long. I’ll try to swing back for a peak to see if you reply, but I don’t make normal stops in these parts. 🙂

    God bless…keep seeking truth.

  4. SHanem,

    Thanks for your good and gracious thoughts on this. I was particularly struck by this quote:

    “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.”

    No doubt the church does at times make it harder to be honest about our sins. I think it’s also the case that sometimes we don’t share how we’re struggling because we know we’ll have to confront the sin and deal with it, and we’d rather have the sin.

  5. “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…”

    Or it’s possibly for her to be gay AND still have Jesus in her heart. I believe it’s wrong to assume that she doesn’t “truly know Jesus” just because she’s gay.

  6. Great post, Shane. The “other side” of the coin on the homosexuality issue must be included and your article brings that out well. By “other side” I mean the church’s responsibility to quit elevating this sin to a height unwarranted by the Bible and start treating those struggling with it just the same, as you said, as those struggling with any other sin.
    I once talked to an openly homosexual co-worker, who said he was shocked that I didn’t hate him. How sad that THIS was his only impression of a Christian or the Christian church?!
    Call sin sin, yes. But deal with sinners the same: grace and truth-every time. Can’t have one without the other. It’s a bird with two wings, as Randy Alcorn said. Rip one off, and the Gospel doesn’t fly.
    .-= paul dare´s last blog ..Pre-post post =-.

  7. Interesting, but I wonder how you treat Christians who don’t think homosexuality is sin or believe in an inerrant Bible. I find many conservative Christians to be downright meanspirited and uncharitable toward Christians who view the Bible differently than they do or accept homosexuality. I hope Jennifer finds a Christian church that does not view homosexual relationships as sin; there are a growing number of them for her to choose.

    1. @Jamal Gonzalez, Mean-spirited because we call it a sin? I hope she doesn’t because then she’ll persist. It isn’t loving to not tell the truth. Now I know there are people who don’t speak truth in love, but I’ve also heard people who called mean-spirited simply because they believe homosexuality is a sin. I’ve also seen others who are intolerant towards Christians who don’t agree with them.

      I could tackle the inerrancy question that you brought up, but that could be a completely separate post. Believing in that Scripture is errant does open you up to positions that while may be sincerely held are sincerely wrong.

  8. Not necessarily because you think same-sex relations are sinful (I certainly hope no thinking person thinks homosexual/bisexual orientation is sin). However, the question is how do you treat gay and bisexual people, including LGBT Christians? There are clearly some conservative religious people who have animus against gay people themselves, treat them in a very shameful and inhumane manner. Surveys of young people show that conservative Christians’ treatment of gay people is cited as one of top reasons people today avoid the church. The animus is palpable and a major turnoff for religious seekers.

    It’s one thing to share your conservative Christian slant with people who are receptive to it, quite another to try impose it on people who have different convictions. The truth is that the overwhelming majority of LGB people will never believe that it is sin for them to have relationships, while heterosexuals are allowed to date and marry. Perhaps, conservative Christians can learn to respect and dialogue with gay people without going over the line and disrespecting their right to live in accordance with their convictions.

    Christians disagree on a host of issues, including biblical inerrancy, the Sabbath, female pastors, divorce, and alcohol use. That’s why we have so many sects and denominations. This issue is just another example of the divergent beliefs.

    1. @Jamal Gonzalez, I don’t believe the temptation is sin, just the act.

      Listen Jamal, while I believe in treating all people with dignity and respect. I have yet to see Christians I know treat homosexuals in an inhumane manner. The only group I know of would be Westboro Baptist and I hardly call them Christian. This is a meme that is going around and I really don’t think that it is true. Perhaps what is missing is Christians reaching out and engaging with the homosexual community outside of the political realm.

      Again, saying it is a sin and not allowing those who are practicing homosexuals to be in leadership, etc. is not treating them inhumane – just like we would respond to adulterers who won’t repent, etc.

      Biblical truth isn’t determined by surveys. You are right that there are disagreements. Biblical inerrancy – is a hill I’ll die on, the Sabbath, female pastors, and alcohol use (not abuse) are things I’m not. Divorce is complex, but the Bible is also pretty clear on the subject. I do realize circumstances vary.

      The Church is supposed to be missionaries to the World, instead what I see with the Religious Left is that they’ve been influenced by the world’s “missionaries” to their churches.

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