Jennifer Knapp the Person and Jennifer Knapp the Debate
Both those who have waded through the hundreds of comments following our interview with Jennifer Knapp and those who have fastidiously avoided reading those comments may be interested in some of the thoughtful discussion that's also happening elsewhere.
Denny Burk, dean of Boyce College, was particularly struck by Knapp's comments about deciding to come out: "I can't do this. People are going to chew me up and spit me out and tell me that I'm worthless."
"I don't know Jennifer Knapp apart from her music. I'm just one of her fans from ten years ago," Burk blogged. "I'm also someone who believes that the Bible unambiguously marks homosexuality as sin. Nevertheless, I would never say that she is worthless. In fact, I would speak to her this way: You are not worthless. You are a sinner, but you are not worthless. The gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and raised for sinners is still for you if you will have Him. If you will repent of your sin and trust in Christ, He will not cast you out—ever (John 6:37)."
Matthew Lee Anderson strikes a similar note at his Mere Orthodoxy blog. He laments not the inevitable conversations that will follow over Christians and homosexuality but that "in all this, Jennifer Knappthe singer and songwriterwill likely be forgotten. Her status as a person, a person with sinful inclinations that obscure the radiant, recalcitrant image of God, will be pushed to the background as we focus on the only salient fact for us: that instead of simply being a minor Christian celebrity, she's now a gay minor Christian celebrity. Jennifer Knapp, object lesson. … In this case, from what I can tell, Jennifer Knapp the real person would rather not be in the thick of things. I simply think respecting that would be a good start to whatever happens next."
"That is absolutely correct, and we should, with a spirit of charity, remind ourselves of this again and again," responded Francis Beckwith, who blogs with Anderson at First Things. "However, we must also not shy away from recognizing the awful truth that dialog may very well be impossible with some folks who believe that the Christian view of human sexuality is fundamentally mistaken and ought to be eradicated from our cultural consciousness. … We must--and this is a tough pill to swallow--become skeptical of our own motives when it seems that the only people for whom we offer charity are those the cultural left claims are victims of our theological tradition."
Indeed, noting that Jennifer Knapp is "a real person" has real implications for how we respond to her comments, Joe Carter, online editor at First Things, said in a Mere Orthodoxy comments thread. "We are talking about a specific Christian in this instance. Knapp was a Christian woman who was celibate and then decided to give herself over to sin. I can empathize with her struggle and pray that she'll turn back to God but we shouldn't act as if she didn't know what she was doing. It's one thing for a non-believer to struggle with letting go of their sin in order to embrace Christ. It is quite another for believer to decide that they no longer need to struggle but can have their sin and Christ too."
Well, yes, Anderson responded. "I don't want to separate sanctification from the truth, and I really think that homosexual inclinations are sinful. But the pastoral response seems to be more challenging than we sometimes grant. … In other words, I wonder whether it's possible to separate the pastoral aspects from the public conversation over the morality of homosexuality. So while I have publicly opposed gay marriage frequently, I took the approach here that the pastoral response to Knapp was best limited to those who are closest to her, since pastoral responses depend not only on what the truth of Scripture says, but discerning the shape those truth's need to take in any individual's life."