A week has passed since Jennifer Knapp came out. I’ve been following the story obsessively. As a teenager who was only allowed to listen to Christian music, I recognized that Jennifer Knapp’s honest style was unusual in the Christian community. She was my favorite artist back in high school, and I still enjoy her music now that my musical tastes have expanded.

To come out to Christianity Today is not only honest, but incredibly brave. While her Facebook fan page has been flooded with messages of support – “You’re an inspiration to me, both as a Christian and as a member of the GLBT community” – many others have failed to recognize the sensitivities surrounding Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer identity and the complex viewpoints within the Christian community.

Christianity Today posted a follow-up article last Friday highlighting reactions from Christian thinkers and bloggers about Jennifer Knapp’s coming out. Everyone who is quoted comes from the perspective that being gay is sinful. They call on her to repent from her sin, but what is actually being asked of Jennifer Knapp and other GLBTQ Christians is to either deny their sexual orientation (often by becoming celibate) or to deny their faith.

More and more gay Christians find they cannot deny their faith nor their sexual identity.

GLBTQ Christians still find themselves enrolled in therapy programs designed to change their sexual identity. Others who don’t participate in a formal program practice being ex-gay by overdoing gender stereotypes and engaging in heterosexual relationships, including marriage. Some leaders in the ex-gay movement have apologized to a growing number of people who refuse to choose between accepting their sexuality and practicing their faith. The ex-gay leaders came together back in 2007 and issued a statement recognizing that “Although we acted in good faith, we have since witnessed the isolation, shame, fear, and loss of faith that this message creates.”

Sin isn’t difficult to identify. After a while, it begins to eat away at a person. Slander, addiction, lying, and infidelity aren’t godly and aren’t healthy. Most people don’t feel shame because of biblical mandates against these behaviors; shame has a much more natural cause. Homosexuality is different, because it’s the homophobic culture that causes shame, not being gay itself.

The rising number of people who are proud to be both gay and Christian is striking, because among the “big sins,” there are no other Christian groups forming in support of a so-called sinful lifestyle. Addicts for Jesus or God-seeking Gamblers just don’t exist. Because more and more Christians insist on practicing both their faith and their sexuality, Christians should at least ask how gay and lesbian people understand their identities as Christians and as homosexuals. They will no doubt tell of how their sexuality has informed their faith, despite fears of rejection.

Update: Due to a request from a source mentioned within the post the word “anti-Christian” has been changed to “sinful.”

 
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Jessica Belt

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