Thoughts on loving thy neighbor…
**I will continue to blog about my roadie [food] trip at a later date. After seeing my page views go from 20ish to 220ish in the past week, in light of recent happenings, I decided to give my two cents. Respectful feedback on both ends are welcome.
Let me start off by saying that I have been a fan of Jennifer Knapp’s since December 1999, and the latest revealing about her sexuality doesn’t change my love for her music, incredible songwriting skills and heartfelt honesty.
That being said, I am not writing a thesis on what the Bible says about homosexuality, as I don’t believe it is my time and place to do so. What I do want to address is what I think a healthy, Christian response should be on this topic. As a believer who is also doing “the best I can”, I think critically about what this means in light of my faith.
Over the past week, I have seen a myriad of posts on Facebook, blogs and online articles regarding Knapp’s coming out. Some fans showed support (including many from the GLBT community), while others wasted no time to cast the first stone(s); heck, there were even people who thought that the perfect remedy for Knapp’s condition was to bring a man in to forcefully have sex with her, as if this would automatically “cure” her love and attraction to women! Things have definitely gotten out of control on her Facebook page, and I for one would love to see people (many who lived their spiritual lives vicariously through Jennifer Knapp’s music) take their Council of Trent debates elsewhere and focus instead on the concept of Shalom at the heart of what Christ came into this world to accomplish: not only to save people from a life of eternal separation from God, but also to bring about the birth of God’s vision and plan for the restoration (and reclaiming + reconciliation) of humanity and creation. That moves me to tears, to say the least, and gives me hope of what is to come.
If you believe that the Kingdom of God is in the here and now, then what ought our actions and attitudes as Christians look like? What should the church look like? How should we respond to injustice and those who are struggling? If Jesus came to give us life to the full, and we are called to agents of peace and transformation on this planet, how THEN shall we live?
It is important to know that people in CCM (and other groups) have openly criticized Knapp since the beginning of her career. They were upset about her tattoo, the way she dressed, how her music was too “aggressive” and even what she did in her free time. Knapp was never CCM material to begin with and never wanted to be rich and famous. She could have stayed in Australia and avoided the public for the rest of her life. But, for whatever reason, she didn’t… she came back and is continuing to figure out what it means to be a person of faith — this resonates in her new songs, which, as she puts it, are not always “for the sanctuary”.
Since her sabbatical, I also had several Christian friends who came out to me in recent years, and worked with many others who are currently involved in a same-sex relationship. I love these people dearly and am fortunate they’ve allowed me to share a part of their journey, no matter how painful. The aftermath of their coming out to family members, close “friends” and the church has been brutal, and rejection has prevailed in every way. If only you knew what my friends, former co-workers and acquaintances have been through, perhaps you would be a little more kind and a little more graceful. Being an out-of-the-box thinker, I too recall being rejected and judged for a number of things in my life, but my sufferings are small compared to those in the GLBT community.
I was reminded earlier today that “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Can we remind ourselves that we are all broken people, in need of grace and forgiveness? We are responsible for our own lives and sin issues, and should not single anyone out due to their current lot in life. The church (and the Body of Christ) as a whole should be a SAFE place where we can truly address the roots of our anxieties and pain, welcome people from all walks of life and encourage one another on our spiritual walk. Sadly, it has become the Inquisition and a place where a few “righteous” gets to decide who is “in” and who is “out”. No wonder people don’t take us seriously. Since when did we as mere mortals take over God’s job description of changing lives and conviction?
**To all Jennifer Knapp fans, past and present: no matter what position you take regarding her sexuality, PLEASE stop the ignorance, prejudice and hate. Treat others the way you want to be treated should you spill your deepest, darkest secrets to the world at large. God does not need you to defend Him, only for you to surrender and take His word seriously. I keep thinking about the song “Just the Two of Us” (Will Smith, 1997) which says, “Let God deal with the things they do, ’cause hate in your heart will consume you too.” As a musical artist, Knapp is merely taking part in the revolutionary role of hope, renewal and restoration the best way she knows how… just like we all are, as a part of God’s framing story here on earth. It’s time to go beyond religion…
Blessings and Love!