I am not just talking about Jennifer Knapp, I am talking about the whole industry going back to Amy Grant when it was just begging to get big. It seems to me that the consumer mentality of the church has contributed greatly to the problem. While it may not be a game (because people take remissness seriously) I don't know if any of us has taken this seriously enough as a "ministry". I think the church has let these folks down as much as some of them has let us down.
The response has already been horrible toward Jennifer Knapp.
I remember her from back when her first album came out. I don't really remember any details, but I would probably recognize one or two songs if I heard them.
That's an interesting interview. Thanks for sharing it.
There are a number of biblical charcters with whose lifestyles - including sexual patterns - I can't exactly comprehend. Some are pointed to as the Lord's leaders, even His chosen ones. Even Jesus' apparent sex life frankly wasn't much like my own, although I was a Christian most of my first thirty-three years. Paul's references to a celebate pattern have often been the occasion of raising my eyebrows. Often we discover that modern church leaders "carry on" for decades in ways that violate their own anounced values. I personally have known couples whose twenty-plus year mariages have never been physically consumated. Try as I might, identifying with same gender oriented Christians is difficult for me. This paragraph isn't about identifying sin: it's simply an observation that there's a wide range of stuff going on out there. That argument doesn't make sinful behavior less so. When that stuff occurs within the ranks of believers, it should diminish the level of pious platitudes. Jesus didn't condemn people with sexual lifestyles different from His own: He offered them love, forgiveness, freedom, and acceptance. We all need those, regardless of sexual lifestyle. While I personally may not be able to be comfortable with the sexual pattern Jesus exampled, his other ways of dealing with people is something we need more abundantly.
So while I wholeheartedly agree that we as a church should prepare, equip and affirm in this area. We need also to be the ones to put on the brakes when this does not measure up as ministry. While christian music, and I'm including church music as well, is certainly entertainment, the main focus needs to be ministry.
And yes the consumer mentality of the church has contributed greatly to this. Funny that you should bring up Amy Grant, if I may i would add Michael English to the mix. We need to discern, we need to be selective in what we will buy or listen to. I'm not advocating going to concerts with negative banners or boycotting bookstores or anything like that. Just discernment, perhaps we have let some musicians down, should we continue?
Maybe I'm especially sensitive to this because that is my role at church. I'm the guy that leads the singing, I'm the guy that picks the songs, along with others we do it as a team. I introduce and counsel the singers who sing specials, I sing a special every other week. I need to constantly and prayerfully consider what I do as ministry, I need to take seriously the charge that what I do can affect others. If I can't do that, I need to give it up, others should heed this same warning. This needs to be ministry!
The Christian Music industry is doing more to harm the cause of Christ than almost everything else, mostly because it masquerades as something positive. It's all about sales figures and avoiding controversy. There isn't much room for depth or challenge - it's all about happy songs. Perhaps I'm jaded knowing more than a few people who've been involved in the CCM machine and come out of it with awful stories.
I am glad that Jennifer Knapp has found a place for her music and that she continues to be inspired by God. I've always liked her music and I expect I will continue to appreciate it. I wish her peace.
I appreciate this quote from the interview. - "If God expects me, in order to be a Christian, to be able to theologically justify every move that I make, I'm sorry. I'm going to be a miserable failure."
But while I understand that my role in church is not to perform, the reason I'm in that position is because I am a performer. I suspect there are many like me who walk that tightrope every week, trying to deny their God-given talents and abilities (to stand out front and perform) and hide behind the cross. Hiding is not necessarily in the nature of a performer! It makes Sunday the most stressful day of the week for me, and I spend the work week working with abused and neglected and otherwise mentally ill kids!
I would like to look at some of what Knapp said in the article, not to pick apart what she says about homosexuality, but rather to look at where we might be falling short in regards to our own theology and actions. To me the articles in many ways say a lot more about us as a Christian culture than it does Knapp herself.
She both reveals the objectivity and the lack there of concerning not only her own views but also how the church has largely commented on the topic. First she categorizes homosexuality in terms of “loving relationships” and I am not sure the even heterosexuality quantifies as categorically “loving” or not. Like most things, I think how we apply our sexuality that makes them loving or not. The question then is if applying our sexuality in a homosexual way is loving to ourselves and our neighbor? Let’s leave that question unanswered for the time being so that it does not obfuscate what I think is a bigger problem…. How applying heterosexuality in loving to ourselves and our neighbor.What about what Scripture says on the topic?
Knapp: The Bible has literally saved my life. 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.
My concern is that I believe the church has oversimplified the issue of sexuality to the point that as long as it is heterosexual and within marriage it is somehow automatically loving, healthy, and holy. It is the classic case of concentrating so much on what we think loving, and healthy sexuality isn’t that we almost never get around to helping people understand what it IS. The amount of relational (and related to this sexual) dysfunction of heterosexual people whom meet the technical requirement of being faithfully married in the church (and our culture) tells us that there is a BIG problem with what we are communicating as being “loving relationships”.
I say all this not to get homosexuality off the hook, but I think it a symptom of a much larger problem for all of us. I also think that the way we engage the issue of homosexuality can not be one that makes homosexuality somehow a bigger deal than the root of the problem in all of us a culture. I believe if we start to deal better with the core issues we will have a better foundation to deal with homosexuality.
Now some say we already have a foundation- the Bible. Yet few want to deal with the legitimate contextual arguments that Knapp points too here. She admits she isn’t “capable of getting into theological arguments” here, but neither again are most of us. She knew enough to know that most (I don’t think all) verses (which there are only a few) that mention homosexuality specifically come in the context of Jewish practice meant to create distinction among the Israelites from the ancient world we live in during the time of the Old Testament. What some take from this is a kind of cherry picking of things that people want to object too while they ignore the rest.
Knapp argues for liberty in Christ which I believe does apply, the question is how do we have liberty in Jesus in a way that doesn’t just dismiss the law or cherry pick it but instead “fulfills it” even if it must in Christian liberty move beyond some of the technicality of it.
Most Christians are not equipped to handle these theological questions either (I feel I am just barely grasping it myself sometimes), but again it is much easier to use scripture as a way to win an argument then it is to seek for how it can and should transform our own lives and move us toward fulfilling its purpose of loving God and our neighbors as ourselves.
The first sentence here is important, and I think again emphasizes my previous point. I think we have failed to really effectively flesh out what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves. Fulfilling this is to fulfill the law and its purpose as it transcends the endless loopholes in looking at love as a legal system (even a divinely inspired one). Yes we can abuse the point of understanding how “love my neighbor as myself “transcends the law and perhaps we think Knapp has. On the other hand we ourselves have often become reductionist and minimalist as we retract into the law to defend our “rights”- looking for our liberty in the law rather than in Christ.Some argue that the feelings of homosexuality are not sinful, but only the act. What would you say?
Knapp: I'm not capable of fully debating that well. But I've always struggled as a Christian with various forms of external evidence that we are obligated to show that we are Christians. I've found no law that commands me in any way other than to love my neighbor as myself, and that love is the greatest commandment. At a certain point I find myself so handcuffed in my own faith by trying to get it right—to try and look like a Christian, to try to do the things that Christians should do, to be all of these things externally—to fake it until I get myself all handcuffed and tied up in knots as to what I was supposed to be doing there in the first place. If God expects me, in order to be a Christian, to be able to theologically justify every move that I make, I'm sorry. I'm going to be a miserable failure.
Whenever Christians asks “what we are allowed to do” they ask a legal question, as they seek to find out what they can get away with. If we fail to find where the Bible tells us “no” we go right on doing it; often without question if it is loving or best for us in honoring our God created humanity or another’s. We look for legal ways out of the problem so we can do what we want to do in the end. It does not matter if we do this by being strict with the law on one end or by believing that Christ somehow voided the law on the other, the reality is a common attitude that seeks to do what it can to get away with what we want rather than seeks love.
I say all this to point out that I believe the church needs to step up the simple teaching of seeking to “love my neighbor as myself” in all things. I feel that we do not adequately look to always be fleshing what this looks like out in our lives in a way that expresses righteousness that “exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees”. I believe if we did this it may help answer these difficult theological questions as we better flesh out the point of it all.
I don’t think Christians have modeled loving our neighbors as ourselves to the homosexual community in our obsession of making sure we don’t somehow accidentally make them think we condone homosexuality. If we can not flesh out “love your neighbor as themselves” in the society we share with them (or even in a heterosexual sense in our own relationships) how can we help them in sorting out how homosexuality may not be compactable with “love my neighbor as myself”. Again I want to resist trying to answer the question how homosexuality may fall short of “love my neighbor as myself” and focus instead on how we can model it better. I just honestly think that we need to work on removing that which obstructs our own eye before we can help our neighbor.
I find this most sad as it reflects I think the common misunderstanding of Christianity and spirituality in our culture that it is “just me and Jesus”. How we can learn about “love my neighbor as myself” outside of community I don’t know. I don’t say this to pick on Knapp, she may find it difficult to find a place in church now that she is “out”. But, understanding the individualized nature of Christianity and church culture I wonder if she ever really had real Christian community even when she was part of a “church”.You're living in Nashville. Are you in a church these days?
Again- I am saying all this trying to focus on us, not Knapp or “homosexuals”. Even though the board has been rebooted, we all remember the many conversations we have had about the issue. I would like to instead talk about how we may contribute the issue, and/or fail to adequately help through our own theological and cultural shortfalls. I would like to spin the issue on its head and take some time looking in the mirror. What do you think?
I have never understood the concern about the lifestyle of entertainers of any genre. Entertainment is by nature disembodied from the personality and lifestyle of the entertainer. I can enjoy music and humor and athletic ability and good acting without probing into the personal life of the musician, the humorist, the athlete, and the actor. When I enjoy their talents and buy what they produce I may be making a small contribution to supporting their lifestyle but I'm not endorsing it. And I can appreciate truth and integrity in the lyrics of Christian music without putting a stamp of approval on the artists behind it.
I don't understand your comment about everything being "happy songs" that avoid controversy in CCM. Have you listened to anything by Derek Webb? Am I misunderstanding you?
There are certain conversations that you hate to have, but almost feel obligated to join. For me, homosexuality is one such conversation, and I would love to not have it.
A question which occured to me today...if a man and woman are married, and engaged in sexual relations with each other, but they do not look upon each other with Agape, but just personal satisfaction and need...is it sin? Or does the fact that their sex is "natural" excuse the intent of the act?
In fact, a strong element running through the article seems to be how she feels rejected by the church, and perhaps always have. It has not been a source of community, love, or healing for her, and so she's found herself outside of that. But not outside of God.
Some people claim rejection when they don't get everything that they want, in fact a lot of people do that. But have they actually been rejected? I wouldn't necessarily take their word for it.
I hear what you are saying about music selection, I feel a great burden to pick music that will truly minister.
I learned something quite by accident from Gene Scott of all people. He was yelling at his two singers at the time, John Jordan, and Toni Rodriquez, (what a beautiful strong voice she had) He had stopped them in the middle of a song and he shouted "You two don't get it do you! Your job is to put me in the right mood so that I can preach! That song has the word happy in, now sing it again and you had better convince me that your happy!" I have replayed that rant over and over again, one of the things that I tell our congregation is that we are engaged in a group effort, I need to minister to them and to the pastor, in turn they need to minister back. In other words we need to actively "do church" while we sing!
So music selection has to minister, we pick the songs as a team. Once a month we (the organist, pianist, bass player, drummer, sound man, choir director and myself) meet with the pastor to select the songs for the coming month. He shares his vision for the upcoming months messages and we endeavor to select songs that will lead the congregation toward the message. We try to keep new songs to one a month as the unfamiliarity can be distracting, and we close out the congregational singing with a chorus that leads into the prayer time so we try to keep that chorus for at least a month. Last month we used "Above All" this month we are using "There is A Redeemer" by Melody Green. After we pick the songs, I put together the power point and order, then I look the songs over and select a proper key. I try to keep everything in the range between C3,4 and E4,5 although an occasional dip to Bb or a reach to an F is ok.
I think that your description of a tightrope is appropriate. It is difficult to keep everyone happy. Our 85 year old organist is a graduate of New England Conservatory, she is truly a gifted musician, so long as there is written sheet music in front of her. (no chord tab lead sheets) While over on the other side of the platform we have three men who play strictly by ear. So we have a tightrope to walk there as well. We do "Above All" and "Easter Song" with mostly piano, while "And Can it Be" and "Christ Arose" are big organ songs, so we need to balance the type of songs out so that everyone feels appreciated, and yet we have to convey a message in song leading to the Pastor's message. Hey that is stressful isn't it? But is incredibly rewarding when things go well and we are able to build unity in the church through worship!
I am not naturally a performer, I have had to work at that. In fact I am happy to sit in the back and run the sound, I'm very comfortable back there. Hiding is my nature, but I have found that one cannot minister while hiding!
Thanks for sharing! This type of conversation is much more fulfilling than the pitched battles that sometimes occur. And I fall into those far to easily.
I, like James, just wish the church had a way to talk about sexuality in terms of love, loving one's self, and loving one's neighbor. I wish we could talk about all forms of sexuality within that, and I wish we could be honest enough to say that the Bible does not possess the sexual ethic which we so often attempt to claim that it does.
I'm certainly not looking for another discussion on Christian faithfulness and homosexuality (or however you'd trend to phrase it), but I will say that scanning through the posts (almost 500 already) to the interview on CTs website, I was really quite appalled. Lots of hatred/ignorance/prejudice barely disguised by a very, very small theology. I know... web comments are notoriously bad that way, but still...
I doubt Jennifer Knapp's problems with feeling accepted is with the church, It's more likely with the Holy Spirit. As an alcoholic I was alway's blaming the church, I never felt comfortable, it was alway's THEM! When in truth it was the Holy Spirit who was making me uncomfortable because of my sin, my lifestyle. Praise God for his love and Grace, I allowed him to change me from the inside out, and I'll never be the same again. And I know he can do the same for Jennifer Knapp when she's willing to allow God to be bigger than her desires. jmo
You have a wonderful testimony, and I don't want to take anything from that, but the Church has a longstanding track record of treating homosexuals in a very unloving manner. I have never heard of the Catholic Church denying communion to an admitted alcoholic, but they will to an open homosexual. I have never heard of churches saying some natural disaster or disease is because there are so many alcoholics in the US, but I've heard plenty of things (AIDS, Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti Earthquake to name a few) blamed on the US homosexual population. Gay people have been assaulted, beaten, killed, had bricks thrown through their windows, and been faced with individuals who tell them they can never get to Heaven because they are an abomination. Had our board not recently crashed, I could point you to more than a few posts where individuals here had asserted that it is impossible to be both gay and a Christian. I have never heard of any of these things being done to or said about alcoholics. Maybe I've just not been exposed to the hardcore underground prohibitionist movement in the US, but so far as my experiences show, people who drink are far more accepted in the church than people who have same-sex attractions.
Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death! And to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν, θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας! καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι, ζωὴν χαρισάμενος!Post Thanks / Like - 1 Thanks, 0 LaughingPaul DeBaufer - "thanks" for this post
Exactly, I suspect that you and I are on the same page, although it seems that we speak a different language. We cannot have solidarity with sinfullness, or we will lose sight of redemption. And yes we seek a solidarity with those who are being redeemed and reconciled, that solidarity is not with sinfulness. We must support, we must love, we must empathise. Yet that love, support and empathy must be working toward redemption and reconciliation. There is a tension, and sometimes we fail others, and sometimes others take advantage.
Shea, I'm probably one of those you're talking about. I personaly do not believe you can be an alchoholic and a Christian (I couldn't) and I don't believe one can be living the homosexual lifestyle and be a Christian. But I am here to testify that God can, and will be bigger than your desires if called upon with an earnest heart.
I will have to add the disclaimer that we need to love the alcoholic and the homosexual, we must love all for which Christ died.
Jim, I agree!
I don't claim to know or understand all that Jennifer is coping with. I don't particularly like her style of music, but I do like her. She played her trumpet in my oldest son's wedding. I have been acquainted with her, although not closely, since she was a young teenager growing up with my sons in Chanute, KS. I pray that she will find the peace of God.
Jesus found solidarity with humanity even though it was broken in order to restore that humanity. As the church we have not "fellowshiped in his suffering" nearly enough as we share in the suffering of others. Christians should have been the first in line to help those with Aids, to stand up against hate crimes, and to fight for basic human rights against those being discriminated against in employment or for hospital visits.
If we had done this, our stand against gay marriage might be believed as one where we are taking a stand against what we believe as sin and not the sinner. (I shared in an earlier post what I thought a good solution is for the marriage issue, but it isn't the point now.) The point is that I do not believe that we have found solidarity in the basic humanity of homosexuals despite that fact that we think they represent fallen and broken humanity in their homosexuality.
We have not met them in their suffering in a way that says 'we see how injustice has robbed you of your humanity as you are treated sometimes as somehow less then human by others and we want to stand with you against these things and restore you.'
Not only is this simply the right thing for Christians to do, it gives us credibility when we speak of love and begins a relationship where we might explore with them how homosexuality may be robbing them of their humanity too. But in the meantime we show how we are going to do all we can on our end to restore, respect, and love them as the human beings made in God's image that they are.
I believe that as a Christian culture our failure to engage homosexuals by appropriately seeking solidarity with them by standing WITH THEM in the ways they are unjustly treated as human beings is a huge log in our eye which obstructs our view of really being able to see and help them remove that which is in their own eye.