Some of you long-time evangelicals will probably know of Jennifer Knapp. I remember listening to hear in late high school. She had too rough an edge for my preference, but she was good. There was a recent interview she did with Christianity Today that had some very powerful statements.
The interview was spurred on by her return to the music industry (I found out she took a 7 year hiatus). Of particular focus in part of the interview was the fact that she has come out as gay. I find it interesting that this is a point of emphasis in the interview. It would probably not be the case in other, secular magazines. However, it was relevant, as there was discussion about how her homosexuality impacted her hiatus from music and her return.
Her responses to a couple of questions (copied below) were particularly powerful to me in emphasizing how the American church does such an awful job at interacting with sexuality. We destroy people's spirituality and create a spiritual struggle where there may not be one. Do we really need to induce crises of faith and make problems worse than they really are? And I think it's quite important to note that people who are homosexual can have an incredible zeal for Christ.
Whatever your opinion of homosexuality, please remember to put it in context and to treat homosexuals with dignity and respect. If homosexuality is a sin, it is a sin no worse than the many you and I commit on a daily basis. Why should it prevent anyone from having a relationship with God or communing with a group of believers?
I understand. But I'm curious: Were you struggling with same-sex attraction when writing your first three albums? Those songs are so confessional, clearly coming from a place of a person who knows her need for grace and mercy.
Knapp: To be honest, it never occurred to me while writing those songs. I wasn't seeking out a same-sex relationship during that time.
During my college years, I received some admonishment about some relationships I'd had with women. Some people said, "You might want to renegotiate that," even though those relationships weren't sexual. Hindsight being 20/20, I guess it makes sense. But if you remove the social problem that homosexuality brings to the church—and the debate as to whether or not it should be called a "struggle," because there are proponents on both sides—you remove the notion that I am living my life with a great deal of joy. It never occurred to me that I was in something that should be labeled as a "struggle." The struggle I've had has been with the church, acknowledging me as a human being, trying to live the spiritual life that I've been called to, in whatever ramshackled, broken, frustrated way that I've always approached my faith. I still consider my hope to be a whole human being, to be a person of love and grace. So it's difficult for me to say that I've struggled within myself, because I haven't. I've struggled with other people. I've struggled with what that means in my own faith. I have struggled with how that perception of me will affect the way I feel about myself.
So why come out of the closet, so to speak?
Knapp: I'm in no way capable of leading a charge for some kind of activist movement. 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.