It’s true. Jennifer Knapp is a lesbian.
As someone who listened to her music during college, I immediately took an interest in this story for various reasons:
- At one time, Jennifer was the shining star of the contemporary Christian musical world. For an older generation, this would be like Amy Grant coming out of the closet.
- The social and relational implications of her admission have sent a shockwave through the evangelical world. She will lose most of her remaining fans, and more than likely lose any sort of Christian recording contract she’s maintained during her hiatus.
- As an amateur social scientist, I want to observe how people react. It is fascinating to watch the way peopleÃ¢â‚¬â€œnamely ChristiansÃ¢â‚¬â€œhave reacted to this news.
“I’m certainly in a same-sex relationship now, but when I suspended my work, that wasn’t even really a factor. I had some difficult decisions to make and what that meant for my life and deciding to invest in a same-sex relationship, but it would be completely unfair to say that’s why I left music.”
“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 … 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.”
CT: Have you ever felt like you had to choose between your faith or your gay feelings?
Knapp: Yes. Absolutely.
“The Bible has literally saved my life. I find myself between a rock and a hard placeÃ¢â‚¬â€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 have a lot of fans who live in real-life scenarios, not just live within the walls of their church. They aren’t surrounded by Christians all day long; they don’t just listen to Christian music. I have a lot of critically thinking fans who are trying to sort out their lives as Christians as best they know how. I think as a result of that, a lot of them have been marginalized; they’re still seeking to be Christians but not always measuring up to the marketed idea of who they should be.”
“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.”
“The rumors dogged her then as they dog her now. They said Jennifer Knapp canceled all her gigs and sold every inch of gear save one acoustic guitar because she was a lesbian. She stopped answering her e-mail, going months without talking even to her mother or her manager, because she was a lesbian. She dropped out of sight because she was a lesbian. And now, poised to release her first studio album in years, Jennifer Knapp is ready to face those rumors.
Turns out theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re true: Jennifer Knapp is a lesbian.
Kind of. She resists the label, insisting that it feels unnatural and foreign, that sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just the Jennifer Knapp sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always been, just with a significant relationship with a woman … She fell in love with her girlfriend (whose name she chooses to not reveal), and after eight years together, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no denying that anymore.”
“And then there was the rift between her faith and her sexuality. ‘I thought I had to exchange one for the other,’ she says.”
“Knapp no longer feels like being gay and being Christian are in opposition, even if others do. ‘IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m quite comfortable to live with parts of myself that donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make sense to you,’ she says. She acknowledges that such peace is hard-won in her community. ‘I keep running across people living closeted, who have literally chosen one or the other,’ Knapp marvels. And she knows she risks losing some of her biggest fans when word of her sexuality goes public. ‘I think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be shocking and feel like a betrayal to some people who live their spiritual lives through the music they listen to,’ says Knapp.”
“But then thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the e-mail Knapp receives from a young fan asking, if she is a lesbian, to please come out: ‘That would help me feel less alone.’ Over the free-ranging hour weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve spent together, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the first time KnappÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s voice cracks. No matter how personal her transformation might be, telling the world is inescapably, publicly important.”
We can see that Jennifer is not wrestling with the issue of being gay, but wrestling with how the Christian community will treat her. That seems backwards to me. That doesn’t seem right for some reason. It feels “off.”
Not a Debate
My purpose in sharing this is not to debate the Scriptural positions on homosexuality. My point is to highlight the fact that Jennifer seems to be “bracing for impact” from the Christian community rather than running into the arms of the Body of Christ. Is this a case of shooting our wounded?
For many Christians, this “coming out” will put a very real face to a very controversial issue. Previous fans of Jennifer will chastise her, berate her, unfriend her, call her unfaithful and declare her hell-bound. Sadly, the impact that Jennifer is bracing for will hit hard and fast and leave her feeling alone and rejected.
Can I ask you, follower of Jesus, to not be one of those people? You don’t have to agree with her lifestyle, but you do have to treat her with the honor that is due to one who bears God’s image. Prove Jennifer wrong and suspend judgment… Just for a minute. See if you can use this as an exercise to love someone who you don’t agree with. “Mercy triumphs over judgment.“
Please? Let’s be the type of people that Jesus dreamed of.