Earlier today, an interview with Jennifer Knapp, a popular Christian music artist from 1998-2002 who recently announced a comeback to music, was posted on the Christianity Today website. In the interview, Jennifer Knapp reveals that she is a lesbian and has had a relationship with a same-sex partner for eight years. But she says that's not the point. I urge you all to read the interview for yourself.
A couple Christian music websites have made disclaimers along with the story saying they do not endorse the opinions of Jennifer Knapp. I'm sure that, in the next couple days, music websites and fans alike will be condemning Jennifer's music and some may even get together copies of her old albums and burn them. The album will not be carried in Christian bookstores, I can almost guarantee that.
Is being a lesbian wrong? Verses in both the Old and New Testament of the Bible speak out against homosexuality in various degrees. As Jennifer Knapp says, though, the Bible also instructs us to do many, many things that we do not do in our modern society. Personally, I believe homosexuality is not the way that God intended us to live. On the other hand, there are people who I know that love God and live a homosexual lifestyle. Am I supposed to turn my back on a fellow believer just because I don't approve of their lifestyle? I think these situations are up for us to live with and God to decide if they are living rightly.
One of the reasons many of us were drawn to Jennifer Knapp's music in the late '90s and early 2000s was because of her honesty. Jennifer Knapp was new to Christianity unlike many of the Christian bands that had spent their whole life in a church building. With that, she brought a honest, infectious passion for the good news of Jesus Christ. And yet, right next to her praise to God, Jennifer honestly told us of her struggles with the faith and where she fell short in her walk with Christ.
With that in mind, and after reading the interview, I see no reason why that will change with her new album, Letting Go. Jennifer will continue to write honest music about her life and her struggles. She will perform it in front of those who are willing to listen. Are we willing to listen? I am. Unfortunately, many of her fans will likely not take this news well. They will refuse to listen to the album or anything that Jennifer Knapp has to say.
This brings us to this site, inReview.net. We rarely actively condemn music. We definitely do not condemn music without listening to it. When we receive a copy of Letting Go, we will give it a listen and the reviewer will give their honest review. Personally, I hope there is great music and honest thoughts from Jennifer Knapp about her struggles in life. In the end, Jennifer Knapp still is a believer and is living out her life with God's guidance the best she knows how, and that's what really matters. God asks us to love one another above all, and I pray that the Christian community can show her that love.
Update: In conversing with a friend, I decided that I wanted to clarify my personal stance and the stance of inReview.net a bit. First, inReview.net is not making a determination of the validity or existence of faith of the artists that we review. We try to make a review of how the musical artistry and lyrical content of the album affects the reviewer, who is a Christian. Not surprisingly, especially since we've reviewed albums by Kanye West, Coldplay, Radiohead, and more, and many of these do not personally express a Christian faith.
Personally, I believe that the Bible is very clear about the homosexual lifestyle being sinful. If I were friends with Jennifer Knapp, I would probably look for an opportunity to mention that I believe this lifestyle is not something God approves. However, it seems that friends of hers and more public figures within the church have tried to give her this message and she has not accepted it as truth. It seems to me that there comes some point where you have to say that this homosexual lifestyle is between Jennifer Knapp and God. I'm just saying that it's more important to love Jennifer as a human being than condemn her.
Maybe in the end it comes down to whether you can listen to voices that do not believe exactly what you believe. I find this to be a rather annoying double standard that many hold. For example, Brian Singer is openly gay and yet we enjoy his movies. Ian McKellin is gay, yet I think he did a great job as Gandalf and has been great in other movies. Is consuming this art different than listening to music by Jennifer Knapp? I'm not sure. I'm just saying that Jennifer's music still may be worth listening to as long as she continues to write honest, compelling music as she has done in the past. Is that OK?