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.

On heretics and core doctrine

A little announcement of intent: my current plan is to work my way through a statement of faith, fleshing out various doctrinal positions so that I have a written and accessible record of my beliefs on both core and secondary doctrines. This post is intended as a sort of preface to that series.

Going through 2 Peter right now in the Trial series means that there is lots of talk about false teachers and other heretics. It’s one of those big, scary issues that a lot of people like to ignore or gloss over because it’s so uncomfortable a topic. Almost nobody likes using the word “heretic,” and the ones that do generally like using it a bit too much. It’s a very harsh, very specific term, however – which means it is easy to define. A heretic needs to meet two criteria, and it’s really quite common to see the term used incorrectly when one does not apply. So before I begin to address the ideas of core beliefs or start work on a statement of belief, I’d like to define some terms.

1) A heretic must claim to be a Christian. An atheist is not a heretic. He is an atheist. If you don’t claim to be a musician, I can scarcely hold it against you when you can’t play “Mary Had a Little
Lamb” on the piano.

2) A heretic must reject a core Christian doctrine. Driscoll calls these “primary doctrines,” defined as doctrines that are critical to the Christian faith. If someone denies any of these doctrines, they would be by definition not a Christian. This is in contrast to secondary doctrines, which would be those doctrines on which Christians can disagree while still being united in Christ.

So, what are the core doctrines?

I mentioned in an earlier post that the Nicene Creed was a good way to summarize the core beliefs of Christianity, but sometimes the language of the Creed is a little unclear and disputed. So, let me clearly restate here what I believe to be the core, fundamental doctrines of Christianity:

  1. The Bible is, in its entirety, the verbally inspired and totally infallible Word of God.
  2. Man was created in the image of God, but because of Adam’s original sin is fallen, inherently sinful and rebellious against God, and is unable to remedy this condition.
  3. God is eternal and triune; one God in three persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
  4. Jesus, who is fully God, became also fully man (without ceasing to be God), was born of the virgin Mary, led a sinless life, died a substitutionary death for mankind, physically rising from the dead three days later, and then ascending into heaven, where he still is, and he will return again one day to judge the living and the dead alike.
  5. Salvation is obtained only by grace, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and is not effected by nor enhanced by any works which we do.

I believe these are a good summary of the essential doctrines of Christian faith; I will expand more on them later, but know that in future post, when I refer to “core doctrines,” these are the doctrines I speak of.