Jennifer Knapp on Larry King live (video)


Last night on Larry King Live, recording artist Jennifer Knapp discussed her recent coming out as a lesbian. This likely would have made about as big a splash as Wanda Sykes recent announcement, which is to say almost none, except that Knapp was for several years, before taking a five year hiatus, an artist in the Christian music industry. The above clip was the longest that could be found this soon and, apparently, is well short of the entire interview which also featured former pastor Ted Haggard. The three, including King, teamed up on San Diego pastor, Bob Botsford, of Horizon Christian Fellowship, who ostensibly was there to question or challenge Knapp.

What makes Knapp’s announcement, which was also featured in Christianity Today, newsworthy for Christians is that she, like Ray Boltz, is holding to her “faith” rather than renouncing Christianity altogether. She does not claim to justify sin, but that her lesbianism is part of her faith. Consider this from the CT interview:

CT: 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.

Admittedly, I am a heterosexual male and, admittedly, don’t share the feelings of any woman, whether heterosexual or gay. So if we were merely talking about feelings or loving relationships, then I would just go cut grass or eat some Corn Flakes and not be writing this article.

The issue that puzzles me in this is that, though Knapp makes clear that she cannot argue the theology surrounding her decision, she continues to do just that. In the Larry King Live clip, she badgers Botsford (who is totally overmatched) with questions like, “What separates that particular sin [homosexuality] out from the fact that I’m angry or mad at someone or that I cheat, or maybe, uhm…What separates that out as so grievous to you that we have to sit here and have this type of conversation?” She goes on to ask Botsford, who agreed that “sin is sin,” this question:

Then why aren’t I in that seat and you’re in the other seat condemning you on national television?

Knapp’s erroneous conclusion is that if homosexuality is sin and all sins are equal, then Botsford has no business questioning her life unless he would subject her to the same scrutiny over anger, greed, hate, etc.

Unfortunately, at least from this clip, Botsford missed the easy answer. If I announced on public television that I was a professional thief and a Christian, or that I lived a life of unabashed greed and a Christian, or that I had a sexual partner on the side and enjoyed prolific adultery as Christian, then anyone would have every right to challenge both my accuracy and my understanding of Christ, the Bible and righteousness. I have not burned my Jennifer Knapp cd’s, in fact, I wish Kansas didn’t have scratches on it. But that is a far cry from saying, “Aww, she finally got up the nerve to come out.”

Knapp’s muddled attempt to justify homosexuality (since no one keeps the laws about shellfish or mixed fabric clothing) are only further evidence of a Bible that might have “saved [her] life” but has not helped her thinking. If the only verses that had to do with homosexual behavior were in Moses’ law, then she might have a point. As it is, however, the whole of scripture points toward heterosexual relationships as ordained by God. The creation of Adam and Eve did not primarily set a pattern of relationships, it reflected the pattern of relationships set in eternity past with God’s plan for His Son to have a bride. If Knapp wants to live her life in a “loving relationship” with another woman, I’m not going to stand in her way, but to accuse some conservatives of using “clobbering verses” while appealing to an overriding spirit to reject a primary biblical theme does not demonstrate either spiritual growth or biblical fidelity.

I do agree with Jennifer Knapp that Pastor Botsford is not a spiritual leader in her life and, realistically, she should not give him any more time of day than I would Joel Osteen were he to call and castigate me for having bad neckties and yellow teeth. For her, though, I am troubled that those she calls her spiritual authorities seem to have given her a green light for her lifestyle in spite of the scriptural admonition against calling evil good and good evil.

Knapp also refers to “what she has been gravitating to in Christ” as part of her decision. This is a most puzzling statement to me; simply because someone makes an assertion and assigns it to Christ or believes their assertion about Christ to be accurate does not make it so. Jesus warned against “false Christs” and it seems likely that a “Christ” who affirms what the Bible rejects would probably, if not certainly, fall into the realm of the false.

I am not condemning Knapp or any person who is trying to seek Jesus and, simultaneously, working through issues of their own sexuality, especially in the time in which we live when many lines are less defined than in the past. What I do condemn is the idea that each of us can invent, create or imagine our own theology, call it Christian and expect other Christians to accept it uncritically. Some lines are blurred, but there still are lines and we do ourselves nor our culture any good by trying to move them or obliterate them altogether.

Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

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  • “What I do condemn is the idea that each of us can invent, create or imagine our own theology, call it Christian and expect other Christians to accept it uncritically.”

    Amen.

    The problem is not that Jennifer Knapp struggles with a sin most of do not struggle with. The problem is that she stopped struggling with it and started defending it.

  • Many years ago as an obnoxious propagator of Christianity “by the Book”, I would have responded all together differently to this article. Considering myself an intellectual giant and a biblical lay-scholar (Oh how I laugh at myself now), I would have argued all the “clobber verses”. Now – my heart breaks when I read this.

    Every day, it seems, we are confronted with moral complexities. Truth is perceived as relative and Tolerance is our god. Many – claiming the title of Christian – have chosen to exchange the faith and logic (yes- I said logic) of a Biblical viewpoint for an irrational secularism based on a cruel relativism. As AE said, “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions”. How true is this? Those of us brought up in a different cultural environment often exhibit a lack of self-control and express ourselves with anger on this and similar issues thus validating that we are unabombers just looking for a building. Simultaneously, I am seeing a generation now “incapable of forming an opinion” which differs from the prejudices of the current social environment.

    I believe that we should embody and express both biblical compassion and biblical conviction when considering the issue of homosexuality or any other of the “moral complexities” (aka sin) permeating our society. Jesus was “full of grace and truth” – and the Bible provides HIS model that we should follow. You have provided an excellent of example of being “full of grace and truth” in your response in your article.

    Personally, I have been – and am still – shunned or condemned by many Christians because I have been divorced. Is divorce wrong? – YES – have I been forgiven? – YES. However, I do not go around touting that divorce is a lifestyle and should be embraced. It is my deepest desire to NEVER be divorced again. (ok, admittedly, this is not the best example in the world – but I think the point is understandable)

    On a much deeper level and what causes the heart-rending grief that I felt on reading this article is that there is an ocean of souls drowning seemingly refusing to “see” the only hope this world – the only hope any individual – has of being rescued is Jesus Christ. The other side of this double-edged sword of excruciating pain in seeing the lethal apathy that seems to have believers chained to the wall of “don’t offend anyone” as precious souls are “going down for the last time”.

  • DeAnn Warner

    The problem I have with this is the fact that when we become a follower of Christ, we are a new creation. We do not say to ourselves, ” we can sin now as much as we want and we will be forgiven.” Yes we sin, but not on purpose and when we do sin, we are forgiven. Knapp is purposely choosing to live in sin. There is a big difference!

    • Marty Duren

      Well, Romans 8:1 might just apply…

  • Beth L.

    I’ll be back later for a full response, but to Deann: She can’t be purposely choosing to live in sin if she doesn’t believe what she’s doing is sin. It isn’t fair for anyone to say that she’s deliberately choosing a sinful lifestyle if she genuinely feels homosexuality is not sinful.

    • Beth,

      Just because she is lying to herself about it doesnt mean she isnt deliberately living in sin.

      I could say, “murder is not sin.” Then go around and murder a bunch of people… Would you really say I wouldnt be “living in sin?”

      It’s funny how we make exceptions when it comes to the sin of homosexuality.

      • How true, how true and how sad.

      • Beth L.

        You can look at it like she’s “lying to herself” because you hold the position that homosexuality is a sin. There are valid interpretations of scripture that argue that the verses we say condemn same sex relationships don’t actually refer to that at all. If she and other Christian gays genuinely do not believe the Bible condemns their actions (and I believe they have reasonably legitimate reasons for that), then they aren’t lying to themselves at all. There’s no possible way to argue that the Bible doesn’t condemn murder, there are possible ways to argue that the Bible doesn’t condemn same sex relationships.

        • Marty Duren

          There is a differences between “interpretations” and “valid interpretations.” While I have read people who attempt to justify gay behavior through scripture, I’ve never read a valid interpretation of it.

          I suspect you’ve been reading up on this; care to share what might possibly be a valid interpretation of a particular text?

          I do agree with you that, in the event they believe they are biblically justified, lying to one’s self is not necessarily a part of the equation. But, being deceived is just as bad. When a person believes themselves to be right even when wrong, it falls into Jesus’ phrase “how great is that darkness,” regardless the area of deception.

  • Marty,

    Great post…

    I’m not sure how long you have been blogging… I am probably just “late to the party.” But you have recently become one of my favorite bloggers. Keep up the good work.

    • Marty Duren

      Hey Matt-
      Thx.

      I’ve only had this site since November, but if you’ll ask around at SBC Voices they’ll tell you about a little endeavor I had a few years back called SBC Outpost.

      • I sent him over here. So I get either the credit or the blame.

        • Marty Duren

          lol@dave

  • I think you’re right Marty. It seems to me that the reason we’re hearing more and more language like Knapp uses about sin is because there is a fundamental misunderstanding of repentance. Sin doesn’t send people to hell if they are repentant and agree with God that it is sin. On the other hand righteousness can send people to hell if they don’t repent and agree with God that it’s filthy rags. Grace without repentance is a pipe dream.

    • Beth L.

      Judging from Jennifer Knapp’s songs, she’s well acquainted with the grace of God.

  • Marty,

    Have you written anything in a book form on this subject. I would really like to have it and PROMOTE it.

    L

    • Marty Duren

      I have not. Just steer people to here, I guess. Book publishing is not a poor man’s game.

      Thx for asking. Tell Greg to fast until Thursday or he can’t get a milkshake.

      • I will steer people here and anywhere else you have blogged on this topic.

        BTW…Telling Greg to fast is like telling him not to breathe.:)

  • Beth L.

    Linda,

    A book on this subject to read is “Love is an Orientation” by Andrew Marin. Not that my dad couldn’t write a book on this topic, but Marin’s book is hands down THE book to be read on this topic. It isn’t a book about whether or not homosexuality is a sin, but rather it approaches the subject from how members of the religious community and the gay community can build bridges to each other and actually have open and non-confrontational conversations. Any Christian who has an opinion on homosexuality needs to read this. That should cover most everyone.

    • Marty Duren

      Andrew Marin is my pseudonym.

  • Beth,

    Thank you for the recommendation, but I’m already familiar with that book – it’s pretty good.

    However, I’m not struggling with talking to the homosexual community. I have several friends who are gay (not gay friends but FRIENDS who happen to be gay). We talk often – one struggles tremendously with “why would God let me be this way, if it’s wrong?” Another chooses to live a celibate life directing all his energies to serving God. and so on…

    At the same time, I am interested in anything your Dad has written on the topic. First, he has the unique ability, as I stated earlier, in depicting Grace and Truth plus he’s just a brilliant man.

    What I’m seeing in churches today is the emphasis upon the love of God, and the grace of God. We do not talk much about the holiness of God and the wrath of God. However, why would we need the grace of God if there were no cause for the wrath of God? The tendency in the church today is to give them the “good” news; why talk about the bad news. However, the good news is good news only in the background of the bad news. However, we do not want to scare the “seekers” away by talking about the wrath of God!

    I’m not even suggesting here that the wrath of God is against homosexuality (not saying it’s not either) BUT RATHER against those in the religious community who, in spite of His clear revelation in His Word, ignore Him. (Give Ezekiel Chapter 9 a read sometime)

    There was a time when I lived a very sinful life – suppressing what I KNEW to be the truth. I am “fall down on my face grateful” that God did not give up on me although He did have to nearly annihilate me in order to change me. I absolutely believe that the recognition of God’s truth is built-in – otherwise, His Word is a lie.

    • Romans -1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, 1:19 because what can be known about God is plain to them; because God has made it plain to them.

    This whole topic is heartrending. I have friends who are suffering; they suffer because in that God engineered part that knows – when the arguments are over and the accusers are gone – it’s still there – the pain that something is wrong. Some reconcile this cognitive dissonance by suppressing their built-in truth system – some are on an all out assault to change the laws of the land to change the position of the Church (not the building but he body of Christ) in the hope that when everyone says it’s OK then the “something is wrong” feeling will go away.

    I keep praying the God will not let them alone.

    • Carl

      Re the question “Why would God let me be this way, if it is wrong?” This question could be made to apply to any sin at all. “Why would God let me naturally want to be lazy, if it is wrong?” “Why would God let me naturally want to be selfish, if it is wrong?” People who ask this question don’t see that all sin is sin and most sin is addictive. Perhaps if they understood the depths of their sinfulness in other areas they would be more able to objectively look at their homosexual desires and see it is not a special case.

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    • I think questioning God’s character goes far beyond sin application. For example when we wonder where God is in a crises (cancer, death, divorce, any violent storm in life)…when you are doing the best you can to walk in the center of His will and you find yourself seemingly abandoned by God. Ever asked Him -“Don’t you care about me”. Maybe you haven’t but I sure have – as have most people with whom I share deep confidences.

      But, in keeping with your point of -“if they understood the depths of their sinfulness”… I seriously doubt that any of us understand the depth of our sinfulness. As I stive to walk progressively closer with God …there are times when I get a glimpse of the horror of some of the things that I have done from a more anointed perspective and it knocks me to my knees and grips my heart with a sorrow only bearable by the knowledge that His grace is greater than ALL MY SIN.

      I agree with you in that most sin is addictive, however, I have rarely met a person with the ability to look at themselves objectively.

      I have no rocks in my pocket just a desire to present Jesus through the Word and show His compassion in my actions.

      • I meant’ to address this to Carl but failed to put his name in the beginning. Sorry, Carl:)

  • Ray Tanyer

    As a pastor I spend a lot of time dealing with a number of sins in peoples lives. People like to have their sins overlooked or considered
    to not be a problem. Scripture tells us all haved sinned and fall short of the glory of God(Rom 3:23). Homosexuality is a sin that has chosen to express itself in the public arena as well as he political arena. The church has an obligation to speak out on all sin. But when the law tries to protect sin we need to speak out even louder. One of the jobs of the church is to bring repentance and restoration to the body. It can not do so if it tolerates sin, any sin.

    • Marty Duren

      Ray-
      I’m confused on this statement: But when the law tries to protect sin we need to speak out even louder. What do you mean by this?

  • Todd

    Marty,

    It all centers on one issue…What is their source of authority?

    Pastor Bob made it clear what his was, the Bible.
    Ted Haggard made it clear also, his feelings about the Bible.
    Jennifer also made it clear, ignoring the Bible.

    a former Hebronite.

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