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, 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.

NaBloPoMo & Me

So Elisabeth, my old friend Silas’ wonderful new bride, recently posted about NaBloPoMo – a blogger’s answer to NaNoWriMo, for those of us less inclined to writing novels and more interested in filling our websites with drivel and nonsense. Or maybe that’s just me, not really sure. Anyway, the long and short of it is that you pledge to update every day in November, the idea being to “force” you to write. I think I’m going to give it a shot, though if there’s anything my track record here shows, it’s that I am inconsistent at best.  The timing will either work really well or really poorly, as I’m starting a new job (yay!) on November 2.

In the meantime, I’ll just let everyone know that I’ve been spending hours and hours this week listening to Mark Driscoll’s sermons at MarsHillChurch.org – and it’s really feeding a need I’ve had for a while to digest some good, solid teaching. I recommend these sermons wholeheartedly, as I have yet to find anything I fundamentally disagree with in any of his teachings. One thing you will quickly find that may turn you off is that he’s a “complementarian” – which is a fancy word used to mean that he believes that men and women have different roles in the family and the church. In other words, he believes what the Bible actually says. Some people don’t like that, I suppose, but it kind of comes with the territory. Maybe that can turn into a November blog post.

Until then, readers…

Edit: Holy crap! Jennifer Knapp is back! YAY! Thanks to reader sami for pointing it out.

What happened to Jennifer Knapp?

That’s apparently the question that drove at least one visitor here. And it got me thinking – what did happen to her? The last album I remember her releasing was The Collection back in 2004, which (in the 2-disc version) was a mix of hits and unreleased or hard to find b-sides, covers, and demos, and was a permanent fixture in my CD player until it was abandoned for my Zen. Gotee apparently also recently re-released Kansas, remastered and with a couple bonus tracks. To be honest, I hadn’t thought much about it until I saw the search and realized I hadn’t heard anything about her in years now.

Turns out that in 2004, she announced she was going on a sabbatical of sorts, and then rather disappeared off the face of the earth. Google has brought up dozens of totally unsubstantiated rumors, but the one link I could find was referencing a Relevant magazine article from 2004:

In an interview from the January/February 2004 issue of Relevant Magazine, Knapp stated that she was taking a break from music for a while, leaving the future of her career in God’s hands.

“It was definitely time for a break,” she said. “I was touring Lay It Down while recording The Way I Am, then went directly into touring that record. It got to where I was just doing shows to support the record, rather than having a record support the heart of the people I was supposed to be serving. I don’t want to make and tour another record just because that’s what people expect, or because ‘it’s about that time.'”

Knapp gave no indication of when new material will surface. “Truly, no plans and no promises of when,” she said. “At this time there’s really not enough material, and I don’t want to force anything just for the sake of getting a record finished.”

It’s too bad she’s retired from music, as she remains one of my favorite artists, but I can absolutely understand wanting to have a life back after the chaos that surrounds the modern musician’s lifestyle. I hope she’s still making music, even if it’s just for herself, as it would be a shame to think that so much talent could be left untapped.

Edit 10/28/09: For those of you still stumbling here via Google, commenter sami points out that Jen is back!

Edit 4/13/10: For all you stumbling across this post in reaction to the CT article, I’ve posted some new thoughts.