What really happened to Jennifer Knapp

About a year and a half ago, I was listening to A Diamond in the Rough and decided to see if I could track down why Jenn disappeared so suddenly from the music scene several years ago. I couldn’t find much other than all sorts of wild rumors about contractual disputes, having kids out of wedlock, secretly being gay, giving up Christianity, etc. – although I did find one brief interview with her, and so I wrote a post with what I’d found. Since then, it’s become my second most visited post on the site, only surpassed by that one time I got instalanched. Thousands of people have found that entry thanks to Google and other sites and I allowed myself to think, “Hey, maybe some people are being disabused of all these rumors now thanks to me!”

Well, it turns out that one of the rumors was actually true, as Jen revealed today in an interview with Christianity Today that she’s been in an eight year long relationship with another woman. She says that it’s a hard decision even admitting to it publicly:

There’s some extremely volatile language and debate—on all sides—that just breaks my heart. Frankly, if it were up to me, I wouldn’t be making any kind of public statement at all. But there are people I care about within the church community who would seek to throw me out simply because of who I’ve chosen to spend my life with.

I empathize with her frustrations and pain, but I have to admit I’m kind of saddened by the news. I honestly believe that what she is doing is sinful, and that her denial of it being so is a dangerous act on her part. Denying sin only ever lets it dig its talons into you deeper. I’m not going to use this space as a spot to talk about why I think homosexuality is a sin – I’ve talked about it before, and if you’re curious there’s always email or comments (or the search button).

Instead, I want to talk about what Jen’s music has meant to me.

For years, her albums have been a place for me to find some comfort, some solace when life seems to be battering my door down and the sky looks like it’s falling. A few songs in particular have really meant the world to me – Martyrs and Thieves, Hallowed, Undo Me, Refine Me and more have really been huge impacts in my life. It’s funny how when everything is going so badly, something as simple as a song can ease the burden and make it seem like maybe, just maybe, things might be okay after all.

I’ve struggled with depression for as long as I can remember, and the simple and honest pleas that Jen sings have always connected with me on some level that most music doesn’t. When I was in a dark place, I took bongos lessons and listening to that music made it seem like I wasn’t alone, like there was light to reach for even though I couldn’t see it at the time.  The words to Martyrs and Thieves remain some of my favorite ever written.  So when I read that interview, my initial reaction was one of anger and betrayal. How could one of my heroes do this? How DARE she?

How dare she sin?

How dare I hate her for it.

Jesus once said, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” While I still believe that she’s in sin, I’m in no place to think she’s any less than she was before I knew her situation. I’m just as sinful as she is, if not moreso. Why is her sin any worse? She’s heard from plenty of people already that she’s a terrible person, or that she can’t be a Christian with this out there now, and I’m not going to add to it. Christians sin just like everyone else, the difference is that we have hope to have that sin forgiven and taken away by the grace of God. The difference is that we can repent of it and have the Holy Spirit work in us to strengthen us in our weakness so that we don’t fall again.

In Refine Me, Jen sings “Lord, come with your fire, burn my desires; refine me. Lord, my will has deceived me, please come and free me, come rescue this child for I long to be reconciled to you.” If that’s truly the desire of her heart, and I really hope it is, then the Holy Spirit will work in her and convict her where she needs to be convicted. God will not leave even one sheep behind. So in the meantime, let’s just continue to support a sister and pray for her.

I’m going to keep listening to her music, and I’m going to buy her new album. I’ll keep following her on Twitter, and grinning like an idiot when she replies to a tweet. Even if this all goes south and she becomes the raving evil hedonist that the most judgmental of Southern Baptists are saying she is, she still has written some of my favorite music and she has still had a major, positive influence on my life. Nothing can change that.

So Jen, if you ever stumble across this: Thank you. Keep on honestly seeking God, and he’ll take care of you.

8 thoughts on “What really happened to Jennifer Knapp”

  1. I applaud gay and bisexual Christians for being open and honest about their same-sex relationships. They hopefully will find loving congregations that do not discriminate against people based upon sexual orientation, including many Lutheran, Episcopal, United Church of Christ, and Presbyterian congregations. The old prejudices are withering away, even in the church.

  2. I’m going to one of Jennifer Knapp’s shows with Derek Webb this month. I support her, her music and her honesty. I hope her willingness to speak out will help other LGBTQ Christians move beyond the self-hatred they’ve been offered by the groups DRazor mentioned above. I hope Lucas is right. I hope the old prejudices are passing away. We need a much more honest and nuanced conversation about human sexuality in the church if we’re to have any hope of speaking to the world we live in. Dull Razor, thanks for entering that conversation with grace and humility.

  3. I find it very disturbing how everyone is eager to support her. True love is tough — it involves discipline and truth even when these are not polite or politically polite. I love her earlier music not because of anything inherent in her, but because of what is inherent in God — truth and beauty. To the extent she reflects these, she has been but likely will not be a favorite of mine. If we place our praise in the proper place — to God himself — then there is really no loss. If we fail, he will make the rocks themselves cry out.

  4. Fantastic Website as always, I am seriously considering something along the lines of an affiliate section on my own site… so very timely Blog .

  5. I agree with Ken. Sin is sin…period. It is not judgmental to say so. When I sin…IT IS SIN…no matter how I want to try to justify it.

  6. Of course it isn’t judgmental to say a sin is a sin. You’ll notice I did that in the above blog entry. The point is that despite her sin she is still a fellow human being just as worthy of our love as before – we are all very flawed people. It’s the ones that jump to the “Jennifer Knapp is now going to burn in hell, we should all get together and burn her albums” talk that I’m addressing here. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    If I was a personal friend of hers, I would say the same thing I said here to her face – “You’re sinning, and I hope you stop, but I love you anyway.” If you’re suggesting that loving someone in spite of their sin is “supporting sin” somehow – which is what I’ve gleaned from your posts on the last Knapp entry and this one – then you should stop showing love to any human being on the face of the earth, because we are all very, very flawed.

  7. I was an atheist for many years and I can identify with the complaints towards the religious “christians.” In fact, I had a lot of anger towards them and their obvious hypocrisies.
    Now, as a christian, I still and will have struggles with what the New Testament calls sin. But as I read the Bible, it is a frightening thing to me to justify my sins. I fear the seeming resulting self deception that accompanies it. The scary thing about self deception is that one is not aware of it.

    I’ve got plenty of problems of my own to pontificate about what God may or may not being doing in the life of another. Nonetheless, reading and praying through the Bible, and carefully considering various view points regardless of my desires or what seems right to my mind, I’m not able to reconcile certain positions, in light of the New Testament.

    Yes, some things are particular to the nation of Israel and times past, some things are not clear, and other things are clear in the New Testament of which myself and others take offense. But I’d rather fall on The Rock and become broken than have The Rock fall upon me and I be ground to powder.

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