Thursday, April 15, 2010

An "I Love You" to the Jennifer Knapps

Jennifer Knapp recently came out as being in a same-sex relationship in an interview with Christianity Today. Rumors had swirled around Jennifer for a really long time, and when she left the business in 2003 the whispers were that she was gay and that she had left to pursue a relationship with a significant other who happened to be another woman. Turns out all the rumors were justified.

In the interview, Jennifer talks about being a believer and a lesbian and feeling as though Scripture backs her up, using such outdate Old Testament laws as eating shellfish and being around a woman when she is menstruating to show that as believers we have double standards...we hold up one outdated law while letting go of others (2 Levitical laws - seriously, you weren't allowed to be around a woman menstruating...seems like God would want you to avoid the 3-4 days before menstruating, for the good of everyone...but I guess it had to do with some kind of picture of "unclean").

The problem is, sexual sins are talked about in the New Testament, too, when grace had come into the picture.

But this post is NOT meant to be a debate on whether or not homosexuality is wrong or right.

This post is meant to spur a discussion on what our reaction should be - not only to Jennifer, but to other believers who inevitably will begin to admit their sexuality as it becomes more and more socially acceptable.

The album I am furiously working on finishing has a theme. The theme is brokenness mirroring redemption. It can be broken down to this: when the world around us screws up, how do we react.

But I think that Christians, for the most part, "get" the fact that we can't expect unbelievers to live by the same set of rules as those of us who believe. I think most of us Christians understand (for the most part) that we need to love our co-workers as they are and pray that they come to salvation, that they possibly see a light in us that sparks a question that leads to the answer. And I think most of us understand that love is to be pure, not condescending. We are to love the broken and dirty with sin, because WE are broken and dirtied by sin. The only difference is that our sins have been covered by the blood of Christ.

But here's where we miss it, I think:

When a believer "falls", we treat them differently. To a certain extent I get why. We view other believers as "knowing the truth" so "living in sin" they KNOW they're doing wrong.

This goes so much further beyond Jennifer Knapp coming out. This goes to the Sunday School teacher in your church that has an affair. This goes to your son's friend who believes he might be gay. This goes to the child molester in your neighborhood who you realize happens to go to your church. This goes to the believers who fall in a very public way.

We are called to love because we were first loved. We are called to give because God gave to us. But for some reason we separate it in our heads to loving the world while waiting to pounce on other believers when the dirt comes out.

Ted Haggard fell in a huge way. His life will never be the same. He was making 6 figures or more as one of the most powerful pastors in America. He was and is an incredibly dynamic yet basically lost everything when he fell. And why? Because he lied to cover up his sins before coming clean, making the church look bad. We pounced on him like a tiger when the dirt started flying and a man's life will never be the same.

I just heard you say: "but there are consequences for sin". Yes. There are. BUT - the consequence for sin should NEVER be loss of communion with other believers. You can bring up Matthew 18: you confront the believer in sin, if he doesn't repent you go back with 2-3 other believer, and if he doesn't repent, then you treat them like they are unbelievers. So, basically we go back to where we started. We love the world because they don't know the truth. When a believer falls and doesn't repent Scripture tells us that we begin to treat them as the world again.

We love the sinner unconditionally, without consequences and without condescension. It is clear in Scripture that a true believer can not live in a constant state of sin. Honestly, I don't understand that, but Scripture says it, not me. I feel as though I live in a constant state of sin. I'm sick with it. I'm sick with self, I'm sick from pride, I'm sick of all the times of lied, I've struggled and I've tried to be all right. But I'm never all right. I fall and I fall again. I think too much of myself, I get angry at the stupid drivers in front of me, I treat my wife without the respect and love she deserves. Granted I'm not doing one of those things all the time, but in a day my sin adds up.

And so does yours.

Is Jennifer Knapp gay and a believer? She says she believes and she says she's gay. it is not my place to make the judgement - ultimately her salvation/sanctification is between her and God alone. I hope there are people in her life he gently confront her in love and tug at her heart, trying to pull her closer to the picture of a believer we see in Scripture. But ultimately I believe we have to take a person's word at face value.

What the point of this whole post is this: calling believers to step up and love. A lyric on my new record says this:

We are, we are
We are all broken people
But we've been set free and loved
We are, we are
We are the chosen people forgiven much
So where's our love?

Another lyric says this:

I wanna love because you loved
I wanna give because you gave

We're all messed up. As believers, we're dirty and broken and ugly and trashy and nasty...yet God loved us first. How can we do anything but do what Jesus told us are his greatest commandments: Love Him with all our hearts and love people.

So to the Jennifer Knapps of our world; to the fallen and the broken and messed up people whether they believe or not, I say this: I love you. Without condescension. Without judgement. I love you.

Because God loved me in my filth.