jennifer knapp, christian faith, and homosexuality :: an open letter to the church and my gay friends

April 15, 2010

“Speak the truth… in love.” Brilliant.  And very difficult.

In a wonderfully honest and forthright interview posted on Tuesday by Mark Moring @ ChristianityToday.com, Jennifer Knapp (of Contemporary Christian Music fame) answered straightforward questions about her homosexuality going public, and her reentry into the music scene with a new album set to be released in May.  If you want a “Cliff’s Notes” version, click here to read a brief summary and response from fellow Christian blogger Justin Wise.  This has sparked interest and discussion within the Christian community, and it raises some deep questions – for Jennifer and for the Church.

This could be a potentially “dangerous” discussion for me. Why?  My BEST friend from high school is gay.  I have several other homosexual friends.  And friends with gay family members.  And family members with gay friends.  And so on…  Also, I am part of a conservative church body.  I am close friends (and family) with many very conservative Christians who see homosexuality as clearly defined as sinful by Scripture.

So, I run the risk of angering (or hurting) my homosexual friends, which I do not want to do.  I love ’em.  And I run the risk of being viewed as “liberal” (or worse) by my Christian brothers if I seem to equivocate in some way about what the Bible has to say about homosexuality, which I don’t want to happen.  Because I love ’em.

But it is important to talk honestly about the deep things in life that matter. And I believe we honor God with honest conversation.  So you need to know my point of view – my frame of reference – as we begin.

The Bible is my life’s authority – it is God’s living Word, without fault, the final say on all moral questions.

I understand that this is not the way the Bible is viewed by much of our culture – or even by all Christians.  But it is what I believe.  I have to speak from my most core beliefs without flinching if I am to have integrity in the discussion, right?  So God’s Word is my authority.

And that means… here we are.  At a crossroads. It’s a place that faith bumps into often.  The place where other people’s behavior and choices do not square with my Scriptural moral code.  To call a spade a spade… sin.

In the Christianity Today interview, Jennifer spoke of the “clobber verses…”  Those verses in the Bible that the gay community feels have been “used” to clobber their moral choices (or their inborn orientation, they will tell you) and label them as doomed sinners.  Sadly, I think the Church HAS used Scripture as a weapon… as a moral club.  That’s part of why I’m writing this – to ask the Church to consider their approach to confronting sin – ANY sin – in the culture.

On the other side of the coin, whether scripture has been “used” or “misused” makes no difference on WHAT the Bible actually says.  And the Bible has several verses that clearly identify homosexual activity (feelings or tendencies? NOT so clear) as sin – in the very same way that lust, fornication, adultery, and ALL sexual activity outside of marriage is clearly defined as sin.  Because Scripture is my authority, I take the Word at face value.  We see clarity on this in both the OT (as in Leviticus 18:21) and the NT (as in Romans 1:21-27).

So now a prominent public figure, active as a representative of the Christian faith, reenters public life (after an 8 year hiatus) with a new album and with an open statement about her long term same-sex relationship.  It has been interesting to see the reactions from the Christian community.  Some have their hackles and shotguns raised.  Honestly, most of what I have seen has been kind-hearted, and very supportive of Jennifer, who has clearly been bracing herself for a significant backlash of some kind.  I’m grateful for that, because the church ought to be led by the Spirit of God and represent the fruits of the Spirit – including grace, kindness, and understanding.  However, we walk a tight-rope here, and I want to offer a few clarifying bullet points:

First, to the Church:

(1) I believe that living an active homosexual lifestyle is a sin.  I think scripture is clear on this in several places, and those within the church who try to explain it some other way are simply trying to justify homosexual behavior through logical and philosophical arguments that don’t stand up to the clarity of scriptural evidence.  HOWEVER, Church, I believe that somehow this particular sin area has taken on a unique significance – and has provoked a severity of judgement – that has divided the Church from homosexuals.  And we do NOT want that, do we?  Is not ALL sexual sin a serious matter?  Yet we talk and act sometimes as if we long for those who struggle with sexual sin to come into our churches – to hear the truth – in order for God to change hearts… except for homosexuals.  They are not welcome.  Why is this?

(2) I am a firm believer that we are called to stand for the truth, and to rebuke our fellow brothers when they walk outside of God’s will.  But I am also a firm believer that the best way to have honest, effective, life-changing conversations about sin is within the context of RELATIONSHIP.  Do we reach some through the bullhorn on the street corner?  Maybe.  But do we chase many more away from God’s love with our insensitive, rude, abrasive, holier-than-thou language… I think we do.  Church, it’s time to build real relationships with people – homosexuals, heterosexuals, people – and then have back-and-forth CONVERSATIONS with them.  Speak the truth, but do it IN LOVE. (per Ephesians 4:15)

(3) I have no intention of making Jennifer Knapp a poster girl for anything (and neither does she), nor do I have any intention of changing her mind or her behavior (and neither does she).  Why?  Because I have no relationship with her.  Therefore, in like manner, unless our local churches are actively confronting this area of sin and engaging it in their community – within real relationships – I would suggest that we not emphasize this one person’s lifestyle.  Yes she is a public figure, but ultimately it is God’s role to judge.  Not ours.  We can call sin sin.  But we do not need to go out of our way to point the finger at those outside of our church family… lest WE be judged.  Grace, humility, self-examination are more appropriate responses within our own church family.  Do you agree?

And next, to my gay friends:

(1) I hope you know that I value you as a person (not just part of a group), and I recognize that I do not walk in your shoes.  Whatever else, I love you.  I do not see your homosexuality as a dividing barrier between us, or between you and the Church.  Even though I have to be honest about what the Bible says about homosexuality, I recognize that EVERY SINGLE PERSON I know has violated God’s standards.  Only Jesus is lifted above the base of the cross, where the ground is level, and we all stand together looking up to Him as our only hope.  If we are friends, and you are gay, we can talk any time.  But I love you no matter what.  I will choose that relationship with you no matter what.

(2) I have some honest questions for you…  how can we welcome you into our churches and show you love and care if we believe your chosen lifestyle (not just your orientation, but you sexual activity) goes against God’s standards?  In other words, how can we talk with you about Jesus – and serve you in love – while being honest about sin and it’s consequences?  If we (within the Church) hold these positions – because of the authority of scripture – do you see us as judgemental?  Homophobic?  Biggots?  I hope not – because I, for one, am a sinful wreck who wants to have honest conversations with my friends about faith – whether they are gay or straight.  We “work out our faith” in community – in relationships – in conversation – in love.

(3) One thing Jennifer said both helped me understand her and made me sad.  First she said she never really “struggled” with her sexual orientation – only with the surrounding Christian culture’s reaction to her sexual orientation.  This tells me that (a) she does not consider her sexual lifestyle to have much degree of choice involved – that it is a foregone conclusion due to her inner drives and her wiring.  It also tells me that (b) she expects the Church to deal with her harshly.  I hope that neither (a) nor (b) are true.  We do choose (and must pray for strength) how we deal with our inner drives and passions.  ALL of us sin-scarred humans must engage this struggle.  And the Church must be capable of relating to people with kindness and love – even those who are living in sin.  I am committed to that ideal.

(4) Another thing Jennifer said set off an alarm bell for me.  Near the end of her interview she said, “It’s not on my agenda to convert the world to a religion, but to convert the world to compassion and grace. I’ve experienced that in my life through Christianity.”  Let me be clear that I’m not judging her for being honest.  But I want to counter the subtle message she is spreading here… that compassion and grace are the goal in and of themselves.  That although SHE has experienced these things through Christianity, there are probably other ways to achieve a more compassionate and grace-filled world.  In fact, that MAY be true on some temporary level.  But the message of Jesus was not all about compassion and grace as a means to an end.  Rather, Jesus said he was the ONLY WAY to salvation and to an ongoing relationship with God – the originator and eternal dispenser of ongoing, life-changing compassion and grace.  Jennifer Knapp doesn’t need to spend her life advocating Jesus as the only choice for eternal life and freedom from sin… but whether she does or not, the exclusivity of the Gospel remains true.  Jesus is our only hope.

My gay friends need Jesus.  My church friends need Jesus.  I need Jesus. My greatest desire is to continue to live in relationships where I can be honest about that core belief of my life.  If you have anything you need to say to me about all of this, the door is open…

      

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Psalm 24:7 & Luke 10:42 >> Like David, and Mary, I'm in pursuit of my one thing. I'm the Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Montgomery, IL. Pastor, teacher, writer, communicator, designer, and drummer. I definitely got the better deal in my marriage to Amy. And I couldn't be any more proud of my five amazing boys. Deeply grateful.

29 responses to jennifer knapp, christian faith, and homosexuality :: an open letter to the church and my gay friends

  1. Joshua,

    I think this is well written and I pretty much agree with everything you have to say. We are all scarred by sin, the question is do we ask God to reveal it and help us change.

    • Thanks for stopping by Brian. And thanks for cracking the door open here. I am still hoping for a little civil dialogue, but you’re the lone brave soul so far to post a comment. 🙂 Gratsi. And yes – that is a dangerous (and important) prayer to pray: “Lord show me my sin so that I can repent and be restored.” Not easy, but necessary. And good. God bless!

  2. I don’t agree with you on many/most points, but I wanted to say that this is one of the most well-measured, compassionate and honest (from your point of view) responses to the JK news today.

    It really spoke to me when you said, “Yes she is a public figure, but ultimately it is God’s role to judge. Not ours. We can call sin sin. But we do not need to go out of our way to point the finger at those outside of our church family… lest WE be judged. Grace, humility, self-examination are more appropriate responses within our own church family. Do you agree?” Yes – I agree and it ASTOUNDS me how many people are at the ready to point and condemn what they construe as this “sexual sin”, it seems above almost all other sin in their minds. The ignorance and blindness to this judgment is…astounding. We are all sinners.

    As I said, I don’t agree with most of your opinions, but I do recognize and appreciate the thoughtfulness and compassion in your message both to the Church and your gay friends.

    • Alison – thank you so much. Your comment means a great deal to me. I see such a lack of basic civility in so much of the dialog within our culture today. Not just on this issue. I’m hungry to see more people stand on their convictions and engage ideas without being beligerent, offensive, mean-spirited, and self-righteous. So the fact that you disagree with me on a number of things makes your comment that much more meaningful to me. Thank you, and God bless.

  3. This is well written. “God so loved the world…”, all of us as, “All have sinned and fallen short…”. I know Catholics put a degree on sin but to God sin is sin. He wants that, “none shall perish.” We as Christians need to teach God’s love not mans hates.
    Tendenies as not sin but human fralities, acting on a tendency would be the sin. To want something and feel the need to steal it is tendecy, to steal it is sin. To have an idea of sexual thought is human, to act on it is sin. Homosexuality I believe is human, to act is sin. However, like divorce and re-marriage, it is not unforgivable. God will judge the heart, we will show his love. Do not judge someone by your standards but love them to the point of seeing God in their life.
    All done. Thanks for being a faithful Biblical Christian and not a judge to those not under the law.

    • Thanks Denise. I appreciate your thoughts. You’re right – God can forgive any sin when we recognize it as such and turn away from it. I empathize with the homosexual community (even though it goes way beyond my understanding), because for them to actually turn away from an active gay lifestyle would be tremendously difficult. Especially with so mmany voices in our culture championing the gay lifestyle as an equally legitimate alternative to heterosexuality. Why in the world would any gay person turn away from the loving same-sex relationships in their life? Only if they see and believe what God’s Word says at face value. Once they examine it, and make a choice, judgement is in God’s hands – not ours. Thanks Denise. God bless you today.

  4. Well thought out post, Josh. I think it was well tempered speaking in support of both your beliefs and your friends. A litmus I tend to use in order to see how the church should “deal with” homosexuals is how it “deals with” people who divorce for any other reason than adultery and then remarry. Jesus himself laid down the rules in Matthew 5:32 (and elsewhere, but I pick this one because it’s not in response to Pharisees but in a sermon) that anyone who divorces for ANY reason other than adultery and remarries commits adultery.

    So, given that, I find myself having to ask, whenever a church says a homosexual can/cannot within the church, would the church say the same thing about a person who defies God’s law on heterosexual marriage? I’ve known churches not only welcome such folks in, but let them take leadership roles, become ordained, there are even churches that will perform the marriage ceremony for these folks…I don’t get it.

    • Ha, well your thought was more well thought out than my response. What I meant to end with was basically the idea that the churches who remarry folks who divorced because of reasons other than adultery are also ones that reject homosexuals (either by barring their participation or by simply looking judgingly upon them…).

      • Hi Dan. Thanks so much for your input. Yes – I understand what you are saying. The whole divorce and remarriage conundrum is a great parallel when it comes to the church’s role in clarifying God’s law and responding to individuals who violate His standards. Again, the parallel holds up because it is such an emotionally charged and personal issue for those involved. The Elder team at our church has discussed divorce and remarriage quite a bit (and homosexuality to a lesser degree), and I think we would be wise to write down clear position statements (backed by scripture)on these issues. At the end of the day, I think there is a huge difference between welcoming someone into your church and inviting/allowing them to be a part of the leadership of your church. That would be a dividing line in my mind, as well. Thanks again for getting in on the discussion here. God bless, Dan.

  5. You don’t know me (it sounds like you know the rest of your commenters, but maybe I’m wrong about that), and I found your blog from Twitter searching Jennifer Knapp (I loved JK in college, which is when she was really popular). Anyway, I am fascinated by the debate within the Christian church about homosexuality. I was raised in a Christian household and went to a very conservative Baptist college, but have not myself been practicing in about ten years. So I kinda think of myself as an amateur sociologist of conservative Christian culture, since I really understand the values and beliefs that inform their opinions and actions, even though I don’t myself share those beliefs. Anyway, I didn’t really have a question or anything, just the comment that I generally enjoy interacting with reasonable Christian people and finding out how to better communicate with them and you sound like such a person.

    • Ashley – thanks a ton for your kind words. Actually, you’re in good company – we’re building a community here, but most of my commenters are people I have not met in person. I do get some “real life” friends in the mix, too.

      Holy Hannah – I would LOVE to be able to talk to you about all kinds of stuff. You have a very unique perspective… like an insider who became an outsider but with insider knowledge. I try to regularly nudge the “Christian culture” with thoughts about this and that – often thoughts about what I think we do that hinders our ability to connect with the “real world.”

      I usually don’t ask this quite so directly, but I feel like it might be worth it with you. If you’re willing to keep an eye on stuff I post here from time to time, I’d deeply value your thoughts. I think the Church culture should be able to communicate in a way that doesn’t stiff-arm (or needlessly offend) the people we’re trying to reach with the Gospel. I’m not talking about wishy-washy relative moral guidelines… Just common courtesy and a willingness to build some relationships before we judge them and whack them with our judgement sticks.

      I take your last sentence as a high compliment. thanks much, Ashley. God bless!

      • Sure, I’ll bookmark your page and try to stop by. I am really trying to do the exact same thing you are from the other side. I believe that if you want to have anyone come around to your point of view, you have to engage them on their terms in a way that respects their values. I am a long-time political activist and community organizer (a term people made fun of a lot less before Barack Obama was elected) and am continually trying to engage Christians in political conversation in a way that is relevant to them, their beliefs, values, and goals. Since I feel like I understand these beliefs, values, and goals, I think I’m a unique position to do this and thus advance causes I believe in. Hence why I enjoy interacting with reasonable Christian people (such as you) to make sure I maintain a dialogue that is relevant to their life and point of view.

        • Excellent. Perfect. Thanks much Ashley. I respect your approach to dialog/conversation. We need more civility and willingness to listen to each other. Gratsi!

  6. With JK’s “out”ing (something that, IMO, should’ve happened 8 years ago so people who knew the truth then, like myself, weren’t accused of spreading “vicious rumors”), there’s been a ton of unconditional praise on the left and unconditional condemnation on the right. I intentionally sought out posts on Twitter to find someone with a balanced reaction, just so I knew I wasn’t the only sane person left on the planet.

    I myself, though I usually don’t flaunt it, have come to a point where I have rejected inerrancy of Scripture: well, I do think Scripture will always teach and guide us the right way, but there are statements made in the Bible that on some levels are “literally” false (I would include the Creation story and Jesus talking about “sunsets” among these things).

    Because you place the centrality of your faith on the “letter of the Law” (that is, the Bible), I am not surprised. With an issue as sensitive, and as rarely-mentioned in scripture, as this one, I think it is important to turn to experts. First, people who know Hebrew and Greek. And we listen to them and figure it out from there. If Jesus wanted to clear this issue up for us, he could’ve said something. But in his time with a physical presence on earth he didn’t say a thing about it. Of course, he didn’t say a thing about freeing slaves either (unless you count “setting captives free” as part of that), but we as a society figured that out a good 150 years ago.

    To date, I remain “agnostic” on the issue of homosexual relationships being sinful. The acts themselves gross me out so I’d rather not imagine it; I have a load of respect for Christians who identify themselves as homosexual and openly choose to live celibate lives as an act of faith. Jennifer has rejected that path, and I don’t hold it against her. As a straight male, I couldn’t hold to that path and as such am now married. She doesn’t have that option. Is that God’s will, or is it due to cultural norms? I haven’t figured that out yet. I’ll wait to find out after I die, because I just don’t care enough.

    To me, the key issue here is not that she is a lesbian, but that she hid it for so long, that she garnered tens of thousands of young, impressionable fans who gave her the money that she would use to run off to Australia for 8 years. Is it a betrayal? Yeah, I think it is. In one sense, many are already saying “well she needed that time to figure things out.” But if she is speaking truthfully now, she apparently had this figured out a long time ago for herself. Only now has she worked up the courage to tell people she fears would reject her. I can’t fault her for being afraid, but I can fault her for profiteering off of young boys and girls who looked to her as an honest role model when she herself hid something that is a big deal to most Christians today.

    But at least now she’s being honest. She’s already said she doesn’t want to become gay-Christian poster girl, but she’s poised to become that whether she likes it or not. If she cannot reject her “lifestyle” (I use the term in quotes intentionally, to befuddle liberals and conservatives alike!), then she will have to embrace it to stand up in the public. She will need someone to support her, and it will be the “gay Christian community.” That or she goes back into hiding. Or she “repents.”

    Her take on faith and relationship with God is something of a super-personal, ultra-private affair. Of course she won’t accept rebuke from anyone. I’m sure she believes that God is approving of her relationship, else she wouldn’t remain in it.

    This leads to a question much more difficult than that of homosexuality.

    Let’s say, JKnapp hears/feels the Holy Spirit say to her, in essence, “it’s okay to be gay.” And JKnapp’s close friend, a conservative Christian, hears the Holy Spirit say “you should hold your friend Jennifer accountable, she is living in sin!” Here are the possibilities:

    1) the Holy Spirit likes to put people in intractable situations and/or is a liar.
    2) one (or both) of them is hearing their own conscience, because God isn’t talking to them (bigger question: is God talking to ANYONE?!)
    3) one (or both) of them is hearing a spirit that is not of God.

    If people believe they’ve had an experience of “direct revelation” with God, of course this will always trump reading a 2000+ year-old collection of writing. And even if Scripture is “clear” about homosexuality (it’s not if we take away our Anglo-centric 20th century cultural biases), buried references from individuals who are not God but claim to speak on his behalf cannot drown out the voice that people believe is the Holy Spirit talking to them.

    My opinion? Of the 4 options above, I suspect #3. And my corollary about no one getting direct revelation is something I lean ever more towards, even though as a youth I would have argued that I had indeed heard the Holy Spirit speak to me.

    Sorry for the long rant from a stranger. I just needed a space to talk that wouldn’t end with flame wars. Yours is a great post. Even if I disagree on the specifics, I would say that, based on your worldview and stance on Scripture, the way you’re handling things is 100% the way to go!

    (though, one caveat: if you’re big on the Bible, what is your take on verses like 1 Cor 5? Paul tells the Corinthian church not to associate with people who call themselves believers but are clearly in patterns of sin, including adultery, swindling, etc. Yet you’re not just associating with, but INVITING gay Christians to be your friends and chat with you. How do you balance that invitation with your very high view of Scripture?)

    • Hey Patrick. Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment. You have given me a ton of stuff to chew and respond to. And I will… watch for a follow-up soon. Really appreciate the thought and time you put into this response.

    • OK Patrick… I have a little time to respond to some of your thoughts. It was interesting to read your comment, and there are several bullet points I’d like to engage. Here are some highlights:

      (1) “I myself, though I usually don’t flaunt it, have come to a point where I have rejected inerrancy of Scripture…”

      >> That is significant for me to know – for anyone to know – in discussing matters of faith. And I say that not because I’m trying to persuade you one way or another. Believing in the inerrancy of scripture is a matter of faith. I can’t argue anyone into faith. But it is significant, because that allows you the freedom to stray from the book when you encounter hard, confusing, or uncomfortable passages. And I say that with respect – I believe you are seeking the truth, and you believe that the Bible came from God and comes with authority… just that it is not perfect. I do not have that freedom, because I believe that the Bible is God’s perfect word, flawless, and in some passages… beyond our understanding. Where the scripture is clear, I take it at face value. If I don’;t understand, I trust that someday (maybe heaven) I will, but that it’s authority does not rely on my understanding. So you and I discuss from differing reference points. That’s OK, but in moments we will probably just have to say to each other, “Yep. I disagree.” I’m OK with that.

      (2) You wrote, “I have a load of respect for Christians who identify themselves as homosexual and openly choose to live celibate lives as an act of faith.”

      >> ME TOO! What an unbelievable sacrifice. No small thing. And some would say, above and beyond acceptable. I have a lot of empathy here. Jesus can provide the strength for ANYTHING, I believe, but Holy Hannah. Only in and through Him.

      (3) You wrote, “Of course she won’t accept rebuke from anyone. I’m sure she believes that God is approving of her relationship, else she wouldn’t remain in it.”

      >> I think it is way too early to say that… only because she is young, and God has tons of opportunity to speak to her. Through His Word, through close friends who dare broach this with her. It’s not over. Further, I don’t think it is even appropriate for her to be fielding “rebuke” from the far reaches of the Christian community. Again, I’m about relationships – her home church would be the ideal community for her to process this stuff… except that she has said that she is not currently plugged into a church family. Either way for now, she has made her choice, and that is clear. I can’t tell from her interviews if she is (a) fairly relaxed about the moral implications, or (b) just doesn’t want to dig into it in the Word. You may be right… maybe she believes that God is cool with it. One thing is clear… her faith seems to be a means to an end rather than an end in itself, as if Christianity happens to be the way she found grace. Doesn’t jive well with Jesus’ claims to be THE Way (the only way) to salvation and restoration.

      (4) You wrote, “My opinion? Of the 4 options above, I suspect #3. And my corollary about no one getting direct revelation is something I lean ever more towards…”

      >> Now you’re sounding like a fellow Lutheran skeptic! Good times! I don’t mean to be trite about this stuff… but I’m kind of with you in that “direct revelation” sounds to me like “extra-biblical” revelation. And yes, in people’s minds, that trumps Scripture itself. But then, all bets are off, right? I mean the Holy Spirit then speaks to people who then speak (or interpret their own personal messages) with His authority, and Biblical standards are tossed aside. I believe God can speak to anyone at anytime, and that He is more likely to do so in the life of someone believing He will and responding in faith. HOWEVER, He has been clear (Revelation 22:18-19) that His word is enough, that it’s living and active, and that it is useful for ALL teaching. Therefore, I am MUCH more comfortable theologically with “messages from the Lord” coming in the form of well timed, Spirit led scripture passages that speak to us what we need to hear for any given situation. If it ain’t in the Book, it better line up with the Book. I probably take a harder line on this point, but i think we agree on this one.

      (5)And now to your final great question about how I can square my invitation to dialog with gay Christians with 1 Corinthians 5… For clarity, the passage reads:

      “I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers… I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer and yet indulges in sexual sin… Don’t even eat with such people.”

      >> I think this is exactly why many conservative Christians who hold a high view of scripture have cut off any kind of relationship with those who claim to be both gay and Christian. In the mind of the conservative Bible-believing church, these two have to be incompatible. And at a core level, I agree with that – God’s standard is perfect righteousness. His shed blood covering our sin is our only hope. And at some point, an active homosexual will be responsible before God for his/her sin. In the mean time, there are a gazillion gays people who (a) couldn’t care less about what God’s rules are because they aren’t living a life of faith. They need Jesus. There are millions more who (b) have been taught through a hundred different voices in our culture (including gay-supporting religious leaders) that their faith and their “lifestyle” (quotes right back atcha 🙂 ) are perfectly harmonious, because God made them gay and loves them being gay. I believe He loves them. Period. But we’ve already covered my understanding of the Bible on this issue. And (c) I think there are tons of people living confused, concerned, conflicted sexual lives – wrestling with their sexual drives and wondering if they ought to embrace their drives as a (if not THE) primary defining characteristic of their life. I have much compassion for all of these people. I want to have honest relationships with them, where we can talk about faith and the Bible. All the better if they are in our church hearing it, working it out.

      On the other hand, I am NOT suggesting church membership, and certainly not church leadership. But grace and time for them to confront the truth.

      As Jennifer said, she hasn’t really “struggled” with this issue,m because she is not internally conflicted about it on moral grounds. She has bought the lie that her drives = her identity. I know… I part ways here with many, many people.

      To bring this long response to a close, and to put a bow on 1 Corinthians 5… at some point, and I can’t say when, a divide does need to happen within a local congregation. If the truth is spoken in love, and a person who identifies themselves both as gay and as a follower of Jesus refuses to break off a sexual relationship outside of marriage, the leadership of that congregation would have some hard decisions ahead… and that may include asking the person not to be a part of that faith community anymore. I would hope, though, that that would not be the end of the story. I believe God loves reconciliation – redemption – and has gone to great lengths for one lost sheep over the 99. I’m willing to be a life line to that one as an individual.

      Talk about a long rant from a stranger! Thanks Patrick for sparking a ton of additional food for thought here. Time to take my fingers off the keyboard and go to bed. God bless.

  7. Great discussion here. Thank you to everyone who’s shared already.

    First off, I should probably say I’m from the “inerrant Bible” perspective here. Just thought I’d frame where I’m coming from.

    You said:

    “We can call sin sin. But we do not need to go out of our way to point the finger at those outside of our church family… lest WE be judged.”

    Here’s the issue with that, as Patrick brought up: JK is not saying she’s outside the church family. She might be outside my local church family, but I don’t divide that way – we’re one big body.

    So if JK says she’s in that body, then it is our responsibility within the church to confront this issue as Paul did in passages already quoted here.

    Frankly, I don’t think the discussion should be about whether or not we should confront this as much as it should be about how to confront it (e.g. in love the way the Bible tells us).

    Anyway, more to consider.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

    • Hi Marshall. Thanks a ton for getting involved here. I appreciate it.

      Here is my concern: The judgement is never-ending if you venture outside your circle of relationships. Are we really called to call out everyone on their sin? Really? It’s an honest question. Again, Jennifer is a public figure, so I do not have a problem “using here as an example” here to discuss the issue, but I do not believe i have “permission,” so to speak, to actually confront her. I have no relationship with her.

      The Bible is full of “encourage each other in the faith,” and “spur one another on…” etc., but I see those passages written to communities. Am I off base. In other words, “encourage and challenge and rebuke as necessary within the context of loving relationships.” Is it appropriate to rebuke “strangers?” Unless you know Jennifer, I don’t think that is appropriate.

      Is there biblical support for another point of view? I’m very open to hear it.

  8. Hey Josh –
    Liz told me the news about Jennifer Knapp while I was in California and we were both very sad. It’s too bad to see someone with great gifts that she let God use go down that path. But, I completely agree with you that it’s not our job to hatefully condemn her. I think everything you wrote is 100% spot on, and I appreciate your honesty in sharing it. This year is really the first time I’ve had close gay friends, and although I unequivocally still think it’s a sinful lifestyle, it’s definitely put a different face on it for me – seeing them as people that I love who are unfortunately buying into Satan’s lies. It’s such a tough issue. Thanks for addressing it candidly! I always appreciate your wise words 🙂

    • Thanks Annika. If I sound wise and am not speaking the truth, I’m doing more harm than good. Just pray that I reflect Godly wisdom and truth in this forum. Appreciate you, friend.

  9. thanks for the article. I agree. homosexuality is a sin. the bible is clear. there is no debate.

    one question, do you know what church she has been attending? she stated in her interview on Larry King that she has been out in Australia for some years, but i was trying to find out what church she goes to. thanks!

    • Hey there Aaron. Thanks for adding to the discussion here. Unfortunately, I don’t believe Jennifer Knapp has a church home right now. She indicated in the Christianity Today article that she currently was not attending anywhere regularly. I don’t know if she worshipped anywhere regularly when she was in Australia.

  10. Hello! Just a few notes…

    1. What is the “truth” (to speak the TRUTH in love)… The truth this scripture speaks of isn’t the truth of “no, that dress does NOT look good on you” or “no, I DON’T like your haircut.” No, the truth is God’s Word. The fight isn’t ours to fight. The fact is that God’s Word tells us that homosexuality is a sin is the truth needed. The REAL issue is that…

    2. Speaking God’s Word to somebody in judgment and condemnation is the sin that all Christians must be aware of. If the desire is to condemn and judge, we have failed. If the desire is to restore to a right heart and reconciliation, we have spoken the truth in love.

    3. I’m amused when people bring up the Hebrew and the Greek manuscripts and then do nothing to try to find what they say… Or say, “we need to talk to people who know Hebrew and Greek, and then do NOTHING to try to find somebody who DOES. Seems almost like an excuse to push an agenda, while hoping nobody actually knows the Greek or Hebrew…? Short lesson…
    A. Leviticus 18:22 says that for a man to lie with a man as one would with a woman is an abomination. The Hebrew word abomination here is תועבה (shown without vowels), and there is no question as to what the verse says. ואת־זכר לא תשכב משכבי אשה תועבה הוא׃ is just about as clear in English as it is in Hebrew.
    B. The Greek word used in I Corinthians 6:9 is also quite clear. The word ἀρσενοκοῖται is from the root ἀρσενοκοίτης, and both are very directly used only of homosexuality. In addition, they are only used one time each in the New Testament; I Cor. 6:9 and I Timothy 1:10. I Cor. 6:9 says that the homosexuals (among other sins) will not inherit the kingdom of God. I Timothy 1:8-11 lists homosexuality among other sins among the ungodly and sinners. It’s sort of hard to make a case on these verses that homosexuality is “not talked about directly” in the New Testament.

    Again, the issue is not a matter of what the Bible says about the issue, it is a matter of how Christians handle God’s Word. Even if we have the God-given truth of his Word, if we handle it without LOVE for our fellow man and those who have indulged in sin, we are useless (I Cor 13).

    Derek

    • Hey Derek. Thanks for the thoughtful reply. And I agree with you:

      (1) The Bible is NOT ambiguous. Homosexual behavior is a sin. That is clear.

      (2) The TRUTH this passage (speak the truth in love)refers to is God’s Word, and therefore, people’s contention with it is not contention with us. Nor is it OUR contention with them. Wise observation.

      (3) We speak the truth in order to be God’s ambassador’s of reconcilliation, not His judgement stick. Therefore, if we “have not love,” we are as ineffective as a clanging gong.

      To God be the glory in this discussion. Thanks so much for your insight, Derek. I really appreciate the direct Hebrew and Greek references, too. God bless!

  11. What is wrong with being a liberal? It’s as if any church member fears the name tacked on to them. Check out the book, “Gay Unions” by Gray Temple. It’s amazing what gets lost in translation.

    Also, as a lesbian, we don’t “choose” to have attractions for the opposite sex. I know it’s something you will never understand. But ask yourself, how did you know you were straight? You just did, right? Now ask me how I knew I was a lesbian. I just did.

  12. Well said. I have so many questions on how to be unapologetically true to the Bible and my own beliefs without coming across as harsh and unloving. I do care about people regardless of their moral choices but expressing love and investment in others without also including an “I approve of all of your life choices regardless” attitude often feels like splitting the atom. It is hard to separate acceptance of a person from unconditional condoning of behavior/choices, not in how I feel about the person but in how they are made to feel by me. The last thing I want to come across as is intolerant, condescending and holier than thou so I overcompensate and end up coming across as a “it’s all good – live and let live” guru which dumps me on the coward pile as I realize I am not being true to God’s word. I don’t know how to be unflinchingly honest about what I believe without causing a division in the relationship. I simply haven’t found that balance between being open and loving and being true to my own convictions. I did really find this article helpful and encouraging. Sincerely, Searching for Balance

    • Heather, thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and your struggle with this issue. Your timing is amazing. This week my heart has been FULL of this inner struggle, too. How do we do it? How do we as Christians maintain our clear scriptural positions (which aren’t up to us) and still communicate love to people who violate those standards (which IS up to us).

      I’m not sure. I’m still prayerfully working this through. But my two initital thoughts this week have been these:

      (1) Always always always be humble. I have broken every law of God. I’m saved by Jesus grace alone, and I don’t deserve His love or favor or forgiveness. Therefore, I must be sure that when I take a moral position, I stand my ground HUMBLY. I speak softly. I acknowledge my failure, too. But I don’t have to compromise. I just have to speak the truth with a good meaure of humility.

      (2) I actually have adressed this very question in a facebook post a couple days ago. I said, “The Gospel message offends people. How do we talk about it honestly with non-Christian friends without… offending them? Is it possible?” One response really rang true to me:

      ” I really think one’s actions are a testimony. Not being afraid to show compassion, vulnerability, humility, etc. It does take bravery to speak up to folks that you are not sure wish to hear the message of God’s love. But it also takes effort and discipline to live in Christ’s example.”

      In other words, the way we live and treat people will have as much impact, if not more, than the words we choose to share. So I’m committed to speaking the truth – but if I don’t show people love and respect, I have no hope of pointing them to Jesus.

      Heather, God bless you. I’ll be praying that God will continue to encourage and bless you. He is looking all over for people like you whose hearts are fully committed to Him so that he may “strongly support” them. (Look at 2 Chronicles 16:9) Walk with courage, sister! And humility. 🙂

  13. Josh,
    I’m simply floored by how much time you have put into this discussion; it proves you’re not just trying to lob a grenade into a chat room and run.
    And it’s true: truth must be proclaimed, yet loving kindness must abound.
    Later.

    • Thanks Neil. I hear what you’re saying – I wouldn’t engage this discussion unless I was ready to have it out. Thanks for reading and checking in. I hope I can say what I honestly believe the Bible has to say without unnecessarily burning relational bridges with my homosexual friends. Anyway, thanks again. God bless you and your family.