Of Grace, Jennifer Knapp and gay Christians… an email dialog

April 15, 2010
This is a recent dialog via email between a friend and me. I think in some ways it expresses my feelings and where I am with the “gay Christian” debate. The point of this email exchange was not that I am right or he is right, but that it is taking place.
To iggy:
This quote shows such an ignorance of Scripture. What kind of effective ‘ministering’ could she have been doing all those years as a ‘Christian’ artist?
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.
To Friend:
What kind of effective ministering do any of us do except what is done by and through the Holy Spirit? I had some of the most effective times dealing with some people while I was deep in doubt and using drugs and drinking…
Yet, not I that live; but Christ… and in the times I gave in to Jesus
And let Him do it, it was effective. Other times… it was just kindling. There is a lot of effective kindling out there in the church today… believe me.
To: iggy
Subject: Re:
However, she seems to show a real lack of understanding on some basics.
C’mon comparing homosexuality to SHELLFISH!
That’s why I’ve been gravitating towards Catholicism lately. They’ve got their priorities in order.
Although I understand your point.
To Friend:
Actually, many Christians use the verses in Leviticus to bash gay people…these same passages state we are not to eat shrimp, lobster, or wear clothes with mixed materials… in that case I am greatly in sin as I LOVE shrimp and lobster and most much I wear are mixed materials. The point is what of the Law carries over into our lives as New Creations?
There are better arguments on both sides… for me I take each person as an individual… as Paul states, “I do not even judge myself though my conscience is clear, for a clear conscience does not mean I am innocent.”(Slightly paraphrased)
To me, I see it as an area of identity, and we all have dark areas we struggle with… and some we do not. I let the Holy Spirit do His job in people… It is His job to convict of sin. So if someone at one point does not see his or her “sin” as sin the way I do, I let be. Of course it is harming others like murder of pedophilia I would do all I could for the safety of others, yet in prison, I would walk and talk about things with the person and let God work in them.
The bashing technique does not work. It only polarizes and hardens the other person… I am not fully convinced it is ok to be gay any more than I am convinced how most evangelicals deal with homosexuals is not also in a sinful manner. I fall somewhere in the middle where you feel the heat from all sides. Though by changing my approach I have found gay people more open to God and grace than ever… and were sin is, Grace abounds… where there is Grace, Jesus is at work… where Jesus is, Hope is there.
Just being the controversial thinker I am… = /
To: iggy
Subject: Re:
Yep…I’m not pointing the finger at anyone! It’s just the blatant disregard for obvious Scriptural truth that frustrates me. There are certainly gray areas but I don’t think this is one of them. 1Cor.5:11 Paul says but now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone WHO CALLS HIMSELF A BROTHER but is sexually immoral or greedy…etc…with such a man do not even eat”.
Not that I wouldn’t have lunch with Jennie…but……….
To Friend:
I think the difference is context… in Corinth; the man openly bragged about sleeping with his father’s wife… and used grace as an excuse. Yet, in most cases of a gay relationship, it is not about abusing or flaunting grace but about attraction and love. Again, I am not sold on the gay is ok argument, yet, I do see that some of the arguments place verses as this is better context than the approved understanding.
Now, take homosexuality out of it… if a person is in a monogamous relationship for 8 years, though unmarried but still faithful to the other person, is that sexually immoral? If you read what the bible literally states in Genesis, Adam, and Eve were created for each other… but it does not say anywhere they were married. Also, in some cases as in two brothers who live together, if one of the brothers die, the other is commanded to take the brothers wife as his own, sleep with her to carry on the family. This is regardless to having a wife already… is that the sanctity of marriage the bible is ALL about? It was what God told Moses to tell His people to do… it was God approving polygamy. Is polygamy immoral? If I am a polygamist and I have multiply wives and I sleep with more than one at a time is that immoral… God’s word says it is not as what goes on in the marriage bed is pure…
By switching on one filter and reading the bible one way I can have God approved of only what I see as right. Jesus said that “God created them man and woman” and that is taken as what marriage is to be… One verse, yet many more verses state polygamy is fine and sanctioned by God.
Again, if a man is sleeping only with one woman and is committed to her are they married in the eyes of God or do they also need man’s testimony by means of a legal paper? What makes a marriage? Is it the legal paper that holds marriages together or determination of the to who claim to love each other? I am not arguing against marriage, so don’t take me wrong.
If a couple who is gay live in a monogamous relationship, and are moral citizens in all regards, are they immoral?
Now to add to all this what about woman being silent in church? It is also in Corinthians and is taught as being cultural… Yet, if we take it as we do the verse you gave we should not. What if both are cultural? What if the idea is that of the Roman rape that was done not out of sexual identity, but out of brutality? Roman Caesars were known to rape other men to show their power over them… as well as the Roman guards would do so to humiliate those they conquered; in fact this practice is still used today as I recall that the torture chambers of Saddam Hussein were spoken of doing this to both men and women.
The main argument is that in the passage you gave, Paul made up a word… there were words that meant exactly what we may take gay or homosexual to mean today, yet.
1) ANDROKOITHS, having intercourse with a man
2) ARRENOGAMEW, to marry men
3) ARRENOKOITHS, a sodomite (in the Attic form)
4) ARRENOMANHS, mad after males
5) ARRENOMIKTHS, a sodomite
6) ARSENOMIKTHS, also a sodomite
7) ARRENOMICIA, the word for sodomy itself
8) ARRENOPIPHS, one who looks lewdly on males.
Paul makes up a word out of two words…
Paul takes two words and makes them one. “ARSENOS KOITHN” Its meaning is vague… but roughly means soft male or effeminate male… as in the case of male prostitutes… It is somewhat like the cultural reference some use to say woman should not speak in church… as woman priestesses/prostitutes were the ones that spoke with authority and Paul did not want these woman to gain power in Corinth… thus stated they should remain quite. If this word is more about the male prostitutes then it does not have much to do with the typical gay couple who love each other in a monogamous relationship.
As you can see I can argue both sides… I can sound convincing on both sides… but am I convinced either way? No. The point is that it is not all as cut-and-dry as it seems… and in a real sense I appreciate Jennifer Knapp’s honest answer… to me it is more honest than I have ever read before from someone in her position. There is no doubt she loves the Lord… and no doubt that she cannot deny who she is. The bottom line is the bible states that we should not judge things before the appointed time. Meaning in the end all will be judged by the words of Christ Jesus. Until then all of us who believe are given grace and faith to walk in the grace we receive. Some walk more boldly though appear to be more worldly… and some walk more timidly and with less faith though they appear in our eyes more holy and pure… God judges the heart and our inner being. As I stated already, even a clear conscience means nothing… we can so easily deceive our self.
To iggy:
Don’t get me wrong…homosexuality is just like any other sin as far as I’m concerned. What I have a problem with is the flagrant ‘in your face’ attitude.
To Friend:
My main problem is not about the “sin”… I know many heterosexual marriages that are just wrong and should have never been…
I see it a matter of grace. As far as grace I see no real limits, as far as a persons struggle in Grace, I believe if allowed, Love is the winner. As far as a person and their personal battle, I view them first as a believer and then deal with whatever their struggle is.
I have a friend who is a medical marijuana advocate. I am in agreement with him and see nothing wrong with what he does as far as that. Yet, he has another issue. He was a pothead before Jesus. He is a user and has found mental and physical reasons to keep using. It is deeper than that also. He is a user of people. His view of a friendship is what others add to his project. He wanted me to help validate his “ministry” to help those who need medical marijuana. When I was unable to get back to him for a while due to my surgery and other things, he began to leave messages that if I did not call him back I did not love him.
He has issues deeper than smoking pot. He has emotional/spiritual issues that go deep that he uses pot to mask. I go back and forth with the idea that God gave pot for people like him to bear with life or that my friend can only be turned over to the hands of God for Him to deal with, as I cannot.
I have friends who are gay. One left was gay all his life, got married, had children, yet left his wife for drugs, (gay) sex and rock and roll… after 20 years he and his wife got back together. I have known him for about 6 years now… he still sees himself as gay, yet because of his marriage vows sees he has made a sacrifice for his marriage. He loves his wife of course and even sends me articles stating that a gay person can have a fulfilling heterosexual marriage because of the love for the other. I have other friends who are openly lesbian and speaks of her “wife” lovely… and she is very much vocal about her faith in Jesus. She lived many years as a “straight” woman until she could not bear with the inner truth about her sexuality. In her mind, she is freer now in many ways than she was living in fear of being found out, and exposed. I know a couple in my church whose son is gay and left the church because he found no acceptance. They hurt so much and as I talk to them they see me as encouraging in that I accept gay people and see them like anyone else.
I realized a while back, I cannot change anyone, and if I did it would be worse for them as they would be in my image of who they should be. Instead now, I see that God has a handle on many things I did not see before. If God changes me in some way (or not) I must accept what I am given and live with it until God does something.
I know I am far from perfect… and yet God loves me…
Again, to me it is a case by case issue. I know there are some who are gay who believe it is a sin… so as I see it, it is to them. If that is the case then they need to follow the journey God has for them. If someone does not… regardless to whether I do or not, most likely I will not convince them any more than I can convince my pothead friend of his own deeper need. In the end, I can love them and accept them as Christ loves and accepts me. I can be there in their good times and in their bad times.
If I meet a man who gleefully speaks of rape and the Grace of God, I would not have fellowship with him. Yet, the majority of gay people I know, I would not hesitate to sit with them anymore than Jesus did with the sinners He ate with.


One comment

  1. Thanks for your post on Jennifer. I've written a great deal on her coming out, here:http://www.queerasfolkart.blogspot.com/

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