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.”

 
About The Author

Jessica Belt

  • http://livingonthebackburner.blogspot.com Zach Lorton

    Wow. You know, I understand how difficult it may be for someone living a gay lifestyle to see how the lifestyle their living is against God’s word, especially if it seems the most natural to them. But there are no “big sins” — all sin is the same, regardless of how major we think it is. One reason our culture has accepted corruption, lying, selfishness, and addicting behaviours as a way of life is because we’ve allowed them to go on around us, deluding ourselves into thinking that other people’s actions don’t really affect us. It’s not because the culture is homophobic (which is, by the way, an insulting, accusatory, and altogether incorrect word to use). The CULTURE is just as corrupt as it ever was, in every way. But the Church has not done the GLBTQ community any favors by preaching love and then acting in direct contrast to love. Put it this way . . . someone living a gay lifestyle and also wanting to be a Christian is the same as soemone who has built a lifestyle out of cheating people yet also wants to live a Christian life. It can happen, but only so far as living in that sinful lifestyle will allow you to do. To put it bluntly, we’re all doing the same thing Ms. Knapp is doing, but she’s being slightly more honest about her issue than we are about ours.

  • Nathan

    Yeah, I respect Jennifer for being open about her struggles, but respect doesn’t mean that I condone her decision.

    Here’s the thing, Scripture clearly teaches that homosexuality is sinful. There’s no way around it, if what is written in Scripture, particularly the New Testament, is God’s law and teaching, then Jennifer Knapp is living in sin, and her friends should lovingly encourage her repentance.

    Jessica, what do you define sin as?

    “Sin isn’t difficult to identify. After a while, it begins to eat away at a person.”

    Sin isn’t psychological angst. It isn’t shame. It’s any action which is in rebellion to God. The standard for sin is not our own discomfort, but His displeasure.

    I am called to love people, whether homosexual, adulterer or drunkard. But love does not mean I condone action that puts them in rebellion to their creator.

    There are clear dictates laid out in Scripture, Jessica. If you want to call yourself a Christian, then you have to address these things and cannot call holy what God has called sinful.

    A willingness to part with the inerrancy of Scripture and its teaching on sin isn’t trendy or progressive, it’s just heretical.

    Either call yourself a Christian and try to follow what that means, or call yourself a non-Christian and be honest about where you’re at. You either are, or you’re not. You’re either hot or cold. Lukewarm is not a safe place to rest.

    I know this might seem harsh, but there’s a difference between chronicling the decision of one former CCM artist, and then condoning that choice as some type of progressive movement that defines their Christianity.

  • http://firstthings.com Joe Carter

    Great comment, Nathan. The idea that homosexuality is not a sin is simply baffling. It’s amazing how many young “Christians” seem to know more than God.

    I know they mean well but we don’t do anyone a favor by treating what God considers to be sin as culture-induced shame. Sin destroys lives and sexual sins—including homosexual behavior—are particularly destructive.

    I agree with you that a lot of people should just come out and say that they don’t really want to be Christians. What they want is to be the arbiters of sin rather than allowing God to make that determination.

  • Mark W

    I’m trying to understand the author’s point here… Homosexual behavior can’t be a sin (despite the fact that the Bible says it is) because (1) people can’t deny their homosexual desires and/or (2) it’s unhealthy to deny said desires and/or (3) people don’t naturally feel shame about homosexual behavior the way they do other sins (the only reason they feel shame is b/c of the culture) ergo it can’t be a sin.

    I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it. Sexual activity outside of marriage is sin. The Bible is crystal clear on that. The fact that lots of people feel OK with it, or feel like they can’t stop themselves from doing it, doesn’t change anything. The way the Church approaches people trapped in sin may need a lot of work. There are a lot of people that need to inject a lot more grace, love, and forgiveness into the way they approach issues like this. But rationalizing and justifying clearly sinful behavior is not a step in the right direction.

    It’s sad that the author seems to accept the idea that one’s “sexual orientation” is a core and immutable part of one’s identity. And yet, I don’t find too many pedophiles, porn addicts, adulterers, or chronic masturbators celebrating their “sexual orientation” as a core part of their identity. All of us – homosexual or heterosexual – have “sexual orientations” that are deeply flawed by sin. As Christians, the core of our identity and the only immutable part of who we are is found in our adoption as children of God through Christ. Because of that, nothing else about our flawed, sinful humanity is immutable as He is working to conform us to His image.

  • David Sessions

    I’m sorry to see this turning into a thread about whether or not homosexuality is sinful. I recommend Matt Lee Anderson’s post, mentioned in the CT article Jessica dismissed, as the most appropriate response to this news. Jennifer is a person, not an example to be used by different sides to make their respective points.

  • Nathan

    But that’s exactly what Jessica’s doing with this post.

    You can’t trot someone out as an example for some type of future Christianity, offer some fuzzy counter-arguments on sin, and then become surprised when people respond to that.

    If Jennifer is a person, not an example to make points, then don’t use her for either side.

    Jessica’s argument, one of them, is that practicing homosexuality and Christianity shouldn’t be considered to be sinful.

    That’s a point, whether you would want it to be or not.

  • David Sessions

    Nathan, I agree, this post is objectifying Knapp in support of a viewpoint as much as any other. I didn’t suggest otherwise. I just said I’m sorry to see that happening, here or elsewhere, because there’s no worse a place for this conversation than blog comments.

  • http://firstthings.com Joe Carter

    While I disagree with Ms. Belt, I don’t think she’s objectifying Knapp. Simply using a person as an example does not necessarily objectify them. If it did then we could say that Knapp herself was objectifying herself (not that its not possible for a person to do that, but I don’t think it is in this case).

    Also, we tend to treat things like sin as if they were abstract concepts rather than patterns of behavior that are engaged in by real people. Sin isn’t some nebulous concept; it’s a part of our lives. Refusing to address it as something that happens to individual people is choosing to treat it as something that it is not.

    Knapp is a real person who has chosen to publicly talk about her sin. Despite her claims that she is trying to keep this a private matter, Knapp has given several interviews about her sexuality, including to The Advocate. It seems a bit odd to say that we shouldn’t respond to the statements she has made publicly.

  • http://www.patrolmag.com Jonathan

    Somebody write this down…or, wait…it is in writing. But, I agree with Joe Carter. This is not an example of making an object of a person, if anything, the Jennifer Knapp part of this story is a newpeg on which Jess hangs her reflection.

    That being said, I think those readers who are putting words into Jess’ mouth and saying she’s making a claim as to what is or is not sinful should read through again. You won’t find that here.

  • http://firstthings.com Joe Carter

    I hate to disagree with Jonathan after we’ve finally found a point on which we agree, but . . .

    I think those readers who are putting words into Jess’ mouth and saying she’s making a claim as to what is or is not sinful should read through again.

    I’ve read through the article several times and I keep coming away with the impression that she is saying that homosexual behavior is not sinful. I would love to be mistaken about that, but unfortunately that point seems rather clear. Are you really saying that we are wrong about that impression? Does Ms. Belt believe that homosexual behavior is sinful?

  • Reidar G

    I dont understand why so many christians get their nickers in a bunch about homosexuality. Are their faith so weak that they simply have to pick at the splinter in their neighbors eye? Why do they feel the need to be judge over who can call them self Christian?

    I am a heterosexual christian male that have no problems what so ever with christian homosexuals. A wise man once said ‘Above all else, love eachother’. And ‘Love is Kind’. The world needs more love, not less.

    Think real hard on why you think this particular sin, above all others, should disqualify a person from beeing able to call themself christian. A homosexual hurts noone, merly by beeing homosexual or beeing homosexual with another homosexual. At least not more or less than hetrosexual practice outside of wedlock hurts others

    And Scripture tells us lots of things… Exodus 21:20-21 tells us that a man beating his slave should not be punished if the slave lives for a couple of days beyond the beating.

    Not following everything in Scripture is the moral duty of every Christian.

    I choose to see scripture’s ban on homosexuality in the same way as I see scripture’s ban on having contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15:19- 24 or the death penalty imposed on those who insists on working on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2)

    Ok, have said my peace, let the ranting begin…

  • Chris M

    Maybe this is all a publicity stunt to launch her comeback on a secular record label

  • http://www.patrolmag.com Jonathan

    I will let Jess speak for herself about her belief on the issue. If she wants to. But I will answer your question to me. I stand by my assertion that Jess doesn’t pass judgment. Even you noted that you “keep coming away with the impression.” That you get the impression means that you sense it may be learning one way or another, but that it is not explicitly stated.

    I, too, obviously read (and edited) this piece several times and I think she does a wonderful thing here, she explores different scenarios that gay Christians encounter and doesn’t pass a judgment (as that is one of the scenarios she describes). I don’t know Jess’ opinion on the matter, but I think that’s the point. As Sessions said, Patrol is not the place to argue about whether or not something is sinful. It’s just not what we do. It’s not what we want to do.

  • Nathan

    “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.”

    “Homosexuality is different, because it’s the homophobic culture that causes shame, not being gay itself.”

    those are value judgments, whether or not Patrol wants to debate the sinfulness of certain behaviors, this post makes a value judgment on what is, or is not sin.

  • http://firstthings.com Joe Carter

    Reidar G I dont understand why so many christians get their nickers in a bunch about homosexuality.

    That’s a fair question. While I think many Christians may simply find it an easy sin to oppose because it is not one they are tempted to commit, I think for most of us it is the reason laid out in Ms. Belt’s article: Those who refuse to accept homosexuality as normal behavior are considered bigots. (Not to imply that Ms. Belt is making such a claim, but that is the implication of being a homophobe.)

    Homosexuality is simply part of the spectrum of sexual sins that our culture has attempted to normalize for decades (if not centuries). But while opposing fornication will get you called a prude, opposing homosexual behavior will get you called a homophobe.

    If it was merely a matter of name-calling then it wouldn’t really matter. But Christians in America are easily cowed. If the choice is between being perceived as a bigot or (at best) unenlightened, and giving up the God’s Word, you can be sure that we’ll abandon fidelity to scripture before we’ll give up being considered “cool.”

    Jonathan That you get the impression means that you sense it may be learning one way or another, but that it is not explicitly stated.

    Actually, I think it is rather explicit. For example, she says, “Everyone who is quoted comes from the perspective that being gay is sinful. . . .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.

    Belt is making a number of explicit claims and many implicit ones. For instance, there is no hint that she thinks that homosexuality is sinful. None at all. She seems to be quite clear in distancing herself from those who “come from the perspective that being gay is sinful.”

    She also presents a choice that is considered a false dilemma by orthodox Christian standards: “More and more gay Christians find they cannot deny their faith nor their sexual identity.” Remaining celibate is not “denying sexual identity.” It is not the orientation that is sinful, but the behavior.

    Also, saying that “it’s the homophobic culture that causes shame, not being gay itself” she is explicitly saying that Biblical Christianity is homophobic.

    As Sessions said, Patrol is not the place to argue about whether or not something is sinful. It’s just not what we do. It’s not what we want to do.

    If you mean that Patrol isn’t a place to argue about whether or not something is sinful, then I take you mean that such arguments are not welcome. For Patrol most certainly does take clear positions on whether certain actions are sinful. In fact, almost every article I’ve ever criticized on this magazine had as its core an assumption that something that had always been considered sinful by historic Christian standards was no longer worthy of being considered sinful (i.e., anything that St. Paul spoke out against: filthy language, fornication, homosexuality, etc.).

    • http://www.google.com/ Christina

      You really saved my skin with this infomraiton. Thanks!

  • TimD

    Go on. Keep arguing for truth. Cut each other to pieces in the process. Surely God has made you all experts. Where would he be without you convicting people on his behalf? If following Jesus will make me a self-righteous know-it-all, why do I need Jesus? I’m an arrogant jerk without any help. Maybe that’s not fair… But as a (very frustrated) person on the margins of the faith – I honestly wonder how the message of Jesus can be real and true if this is the fruit.

  • Nick Butterfield

    Who is Jennifer Knapp?

  • David Sessions

    TimD: Exactly. If squabbling over what is and isn’t sinful is the fruit of Christianity, I don’t know why any of us bother.

  • Jessica Belt

    Thanks for the comments and discussion here. The point of this post was to recognize that there are many Christians who do not believe that homosexuality is sinful. There are also many gay Christians who at one time believed that their sexual orientation was a sin, and trying to become ex-gay led them down a path of self-hatred and in some cases attempted suicide. You can read about them at beyondexgay.com

    An important part of Jesus’ ministry was re-understanding the Hebrew scripture to promote love of God and one another. Interpretations of scripture that emphasize personal experience as a valid and important form of divine revelation have long been part of church tradition. They should not be absent from the ongoing conversation about homosexuality and Christianity.

  • micah

    @ jessica: i don’t know of any place in church history where personal experiences were not interpreted in light of the rule/canon of faith. certainly, personal experience is a part of the life of the church community, but has never been the sole reason for admitting something into the canon of faith.

    i think, though, you make an important distinction here, jessica, but the rhetoric of the debate is potentially distracting. we are talking about the personal experiences of folks who are directly affected by christianity’s traditional teaching on homosexuality. many of the stories are extremely compelling, and it’s hard to feel as if the orthodox answer does justice to the pain that is obviously felt by these tortured people. a similar story was published over at commonweal about gay adoption. very compelling, moving. yes, christianity sees homosexual activity as a sin, but it seems almost cruel to call homosexuality as one sin among many others (like alcoholism, kleptomania). because we judge personal experience to be the very essence of a person in our day, it seems incredibly cruel to judge homosexuality as a sin. how can we call something that is so close to that person, so much that it seems connected to the very essence of that person, a sin? wouldn’t that mean that God has created something that is essentially sinful? this seems to me to be the crux of this particular debate/flame war.

    it seems to me the only way that traditional christians can respond to the “personal experience” claims is with a fully realized portrait of what it means to be a human person, particularly as it relates to the various types of human love. any other response will seem woefully inadequate, i suspect.

    thus, we cannot really discuss homosexuality as a single-issue and ask/answer what the church thinks about homosexuality. there is a relatively clear answer, to be sure, but to our modern ears that answer will seem cruel unless we discuss it in view of the larger panorama of how the church sees the human person, what the human person consists of, what the end of the human person is, etc. i would argue that the work of john paul II is incredibly informative, in this regard. one place to begin is john paul II’s “love and responsibility.”

  • http://www.myfriendamysblog.com Amy @ My Friend Amy

    Well said. I hope freedom from shame about the unique and beautiful way God has created each of us is a way for the future.

  • http://firstthings.com Joe Carter

    TIMD Go on. Keep arguing for truth. Cut each other to pieces in the process. Surely God has made you all experts.

    The truth is only cutting if people do not want to hear it. And it is not that God has made us all experts but that he has given us his word to guide us. If we follow that guidance we’ll have life, if not we will stumble into death.

    The stakes are much higher than a dispute in a comment thread. We’re talking about the souls of people in need of salvation.

    Where would he be without you convicting people on his behalf? If following Jesus will make me a self-righteous know-it-all, why do I need Jesus?

    No one is convicting anyone. God’s law is clear-cut on this issue and people’s actions convict them or justify them. But when people imply that homosexuality is not a sin, they are lying (albeit unintentionally) to people that need the truth. That’s not self-righteousness, that’s the Gospel. To claim that what God has clearly defined as sin to be a valid way of living is to condemn people to suffering and death. That is true self-righteousness—determining what is righteous based not on God’s word but on our own understanding.

    Jessica *The point of this post was to recognize that there are many Christians who do not believe that homosexuality is sinful. *

    If they truly believe that then they need correction. From the time of Christ until about thirty years ago, there was never any dispute about the sinfulness of homosexual behavior. In truth, there is no dispute know among people who believe in Scripture. The only Christians who don not believe that homosexuality is sinful are those who have rejected the authority of God’s word. That may sound harsh, but that’s the truth

    There are also many gay Christians who at one time believed that their sexual orientation was a sin, and trying to become ex-gay led them down a path of self-hatred and in some cases attempted suicide. You can read about them at beyondexgay.com

    Which Christians say that their orientation is a sin? I know plenty of people who work in reparative therapy ministries and I’ve never heard any of them ever say that the orientation is sinful. In fact, I can’t think of a single Christian that thinks that.

    Interpretations of scripture that emphasize personal experience as a valid and important form of divine revelation have long been part of church tradition.

    Only insofar as the personal experience does not contradict God’s holy word. Anyone who thinks that their experience trumps Scripture is being deceived by Satan. There is certainly no church tradition that claims we should listen to our own experience when the history of church interpretation says that God’s word is clear on a subject.

    They should not be absent from the ongoing conversation about homosexuality and Christianity.

    Who in the Christian tradition are you referring to?

  • Mark W

    “I choose to see scripture’s ban on homosexuality in the same way as I see scripture’s ban on having contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15:19- 24 or the death penalty imposed on those who insists on working on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2)”

    I get very frustrated with these kinds of arguments (which Knapp herself employed in the CT interview), so please allow me to be rhetorical (and a bit of a jerk). Reidar, would you describe yourself as adhering to Covenant Theology, New Covenant Theology, or Dispensationalism? Or do you have some other understanding of how the Old Testament Mosaic laws relate to the current reality of those of us living under the New Covenant inaugurated by Christ with His death and resurrection? Because I’m not aware of any system of Biblical interpretation that would require Christians in the 21st century to adhere to Jewish civil and ceremonial laws. Traditionally, however, the Church has seen the moral law as unchanging. Regardless, even if you adhere to New Covenant theology (as I myself do) and believe that the entirety of the Mosaic code is obsolete and no longer binding on God’s people, there are still plenty of New Testament passages that clearly state both that (a) homosexual activity is sinful and (b) the only holy context for sexual activity is marriage.

    Or maybe you should just stop talking about things you clearly haven’t done any serious study on before you start sounding really ignorant.

  • Matt S.

    This comment thread just astonishes me. I honestly do not know where to begin, or what I even would say — its just exasperating. So much of it expresses a way of viewing the world, morality, the Bible, and Christianity that I find unrecognizable. The tone is just so off. I can’t imagine what it is like to live in a world so simple, with such clear guidelines, and where certainty is so easy to come by. I am not trying to be uncharitable — I really cannot get a handle on the way these matters are being discussed.

    Perhaps, though, one example will intimate a broader problem. Joe Carter wrote, “The truth is only cutting if people do not want to hear it. And it is not that God has made us all experts but that he has given us his word to guide us. If we follow that guidance we’ll have life, if not we will stumble into death.”

    I believe that we all stop our ears when the truth is spoken — that we resist it with the core of our being. I also hold that it is impossible to “follow” the guidance we are given by God. Christianity is the religion of non-achievement. The last thing Christianity is about is morality. None of us willingly hear the truth; none of us are capable of following any “guidelines;” none of us ever can escape by our own power the deadliness of “doing.”

    We simply cannot do these things. We utterly are dependent on grace, and such an awareness should be so humbling as to make comments like too many above just impossible. I am not trying to say our sinfulness renders us incapable of discussing these matters — there is a difference between humility and utter suspicion.

    I am saying that the precise way so much of the preceding has been formulated, and the tone that seems to be expressed, can only be the result of insufficiently grasping what it means to depend on grace.

    This thread exemplifies the never-ending conflict between theologies of glory and the theology of the cross, which manifests itself not always in doctrine, but often more so in one’s posture, one’s emphasis, one’s broad approach to discussion and deliberation about that which our words always fall short of comprehending and describing.

  • Mark W

    So, if there was a delete option I’d use it. I apologize for my previous comment. It was out of line, unloving and sinful. Sloppy scripture interpretation really gets me fired up but that’s no excuse. I apologize to Reidar and to anyone else who read my previous comment.

  • http://www.petersontoscano.wordpress.com Peterson Toscano

    Is Heterosexuality a sin? I mean there are all sorts of prohibitions and condemnations against all kinds of heterosexual behavior. Of course it is not a sin to be heterosexual simply because so many scriptures condemn certain behavior.

    Similarly just because certain same-sex practices are highlighted as inappropriate for humans, there are no scriptures that condemn two men or two women in a loving, committed companionship. This is not addressed.

    We have to discern between what is and what is not in the scripture. We have to seek the truth and not assume it. We have to take care that we do not bring to the Word a prejudice or bias and then seek to fit in the Word to support what we have already declared right and wrong. Many gay Christians I know have spent years seeking God in prayer willing to believe that God condemns them for their desires only to find that they were forcing an anti-gay agenda on God that was not part of God’s plan for their lives. How many folks flippantly say, “But the Bible says it is wrong to be gay!” have actually spent any serious time seeking God and studying these matters?

    Conform not to the patterns of this world (which in most places secular have historically judged gays to be inferior to heterosexuals) but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you can begin to understand God’s will.

  • http://firstthings.com Joe Carter

    Peterson: there are no scriptures that condemn two men or two women in a loving, committed companionship.

    Lev. 18:22 – “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

    Romans 1:81-27 – For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

    There are no exceptions for homosexual acts just because people are in a “loving, committed companionship.” The Bible is crystal clear on its condemnation of homosexual behavior. In the history of the church that has never been in dispute. It is only people who seem to read into the bible what they want to hear—based on arguments from silence—that think there is an exemption.

    Listen, if you are a Christian and want to justify homosexual behavior, you simply have to reject Scripture and the clear teaching of the church throughout its history. There are no other options. If engaging in homosexual acts is more important to a person than following what is indisputably taught in the Word of God, then they will be, as Paul said, “given over to their dishonorable passions.”

    Maybe all of us (homosexual and heterosexuals alike) should stop trying to justify our sin and start asking God for deliverance from impurity.

  • http://www.petersontoscano.wordpress.com Peterson Toscano

    Joe, this is not the forum perhaps to have this discussion. So I will not eat up lots of comments on it. Having talked with Bill Hybels from Willow Creek Church about the very verses you mention above, he admitted that most people do not apply the same standards of interpretation and scholarship to the passages you mention as they do to most others. Even what you write here does not disprove my assertion. The Bible does not condemn loving, committed relationships between two men or two women.

    Lev 18 speaks only of a specific act (and Hebrews scholars admit that the word “to lie with” has multiple interpretation—including rape) Also, this passage only speaks about men. It is not relevant to woman at all and should not be applied to women. (except perhaps the ones with whom the men in question are NOT lying with.) :-)

    Romans One when read in context is a large opening statement about grace and Paul’s sermon to a Jewish congregation of believers who struggled to admit Gentiles into the fold. The excerpt you quote refers to sex acts in conjunction to pagan temple worship. But more importantly the point you stress isn’t even the point of the whole passage. Paul’s purpose is not to write a treaties or doctrinal statement regarding sexual relations between men or women (and definitely not about loving, committed relationships.)

    One needs to continue to Romans 2:1 to read Paul’s concluding point that begins, “Therefore…” As I learned studying Bible at Nyack College, when you see “therefore” preceding a passage you have to ask, “What is it therefore, and how does it conclude the verses above.”

    Most likely your mind is made up.

    Folks like Jennifer Knapp and the thousands of other Christians who also happen to be gay or lesbian did not casually come to to their conclusions about their orientation and God’s will. They usually took a great deal of time and open searching, seeking to know and understand. They are people of great integrity with a genuine relationship with God.

    The courage displayed by people like Jennifer Knapp is not simply in letting the world know about this one fact about their lives. More so it is the courageous and arduous journey Jennifer Knapp and others took in order to apprehend God’s will for her life and her sexuality.

    I encourage you to take time in sincere prayer and searching. Bring it to the Lord in prayer and don’t assume you have all the answers. Respect the journeys and seeking of your brothers and sisters who see things differently. Also get to know the many gay and lesbian couples who love Jesus and live in the Light. If you see the fruit of the Holy Spirit in them, if you experience Christ in them the hope of glory, if you find fellowship in the Lord, that may speak deeper than any well-worded comment I can write here.

    God bless you as you grapple with these important issues.

  • Reidar G

    Mark W- I do not agree with you that you have to have done ‘serious study’ in order to have an opinion, but i do forgive you your earlier vitriol. I understand that it can be frustrating when others do not agree with opinions you see as self evident. It is hard not to see those people as ignorent.

    We should all reign in the hard words as you did. I applaude you for doing so.

    And if i’m anything I am a Grundtvigian. ;-) (“The ‘living word’ “ “First, the human, then the Christian”.)

  • http://uncomplicatedspirituality.wordpress.com Miguel

    Stop arguing about who is right and who is not. STOP and listen. Learn from the words and stories of others. Please put a face into all your comments, live what they have lived, walked what they have walked. Cry with them, give a hand of love and compassion. “Understanding is the ground of love”

  • Liz

    Here’s the overall problem. All these posts are focused on “I” and “we” and human interpretation of God’s Word. In the end, it is about an individual’s relationship with God. We are imperfect humans who do not stand a chance on our own. That is why God has given us an out through Jesus Christ and given us the Holy Spirit to convict us. As Christians, we are to seek after God and His will through prayer and Bible study, and through our seeking God will reveal Himself and His will to us. Ultimately, a person’s actions are between that person and God.

    I have learned the hard way that we can not argue our view into another person’s belief system. As Christians, we can present them with the Bible’s teachings IN LOVE, but the rest is up to God and whether or not that person chooses to hear what He is saying. Something that is too often overlooked is that Jesus commanded us to go TELL the world, not to go CONVINCE the world. It is God’s job to change the heart of a person, we just have to get the message out as often as we can.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am a person who believes homosexuality is a sin. Not too long ago I was questioning whether it was still considered a sin under the New Covenant. I knew it was under the Old Law, but I was not so sure about the New Law. All I can say is God stuck my nose in Romans and that closed that argument for me, but I realize that I am powerless. All I can do is present the Word of God, pray, love on everyone around me, and seek after what He would have me do.

  • Caryn LeMur

    Can a person sin, and yet be held innocent? Can the priest truly give the consecrated bread to those that are deeply hungry and driven? Why did Jesus quote Hosea 6 within Matthew Chapter 12?

    I offer that there are questions being avoided:

    - What is the consecrated bread in this case? Are we angry because our Lord – the ultimate High Priest – is generous? Or do we continue to demand endless ‘sacrifice of celibacy’, and not yield to mercy? Ask yourself: Who will God cut in two in Hosea chapter 6? Who is judged in James 2:13? What is the sin of ‘two measures’ in Proverbs 20:10 and 20:23? Why do Christians perform a ‘detestable sin’ and measure mercy to those that live in Adultery By Remarriage [Matt 5:32], but use a different measure for those that are accused of a lesser sin? Do we agree with Jesus that there are even ‘greater’ (and therefore lesser) sins [John 19:11]?

    While I applaud the argumentation of ‘what is right and what is wrong’ – it is still foundational. Such teaching is good – it is the milk that infants in Christ need [Hebrews 5:12]. However, I strongly suggest that the more advanced arguments center on the ‘more important matters of the law that should not be neglected’ – the teachings of mercy, faithfulness, and social justice [Matt 23:23]. I offer that we should allow ‘everyone to live up to what level they have attained’ [Phil 3:16]. Mercy is not being ‘relative’ – it is being Christ-like. Let us therefore mature.

  • Jane

    I have read the 32 comments with some interest and some anger. I will be honest. Some of the responses anger me. I do not see Jesus’ model of how to be with others in those comments. I want to share my thoughts, and I want to do it without attacking another person.

    There has been talk of the New Covenant law. I find it intriguing that there still exists the thought that the New Covenant abolished the law of the Hebrew Scriptures. Jesus, our model of how to live, followed the Mosaic law. He observed the holy days, hence the reason he was in Jerusalem during Passover. He was found in the synagogues on Shabbat. Jesus said that he came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it. Jesus followed the law as it was summarized in Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus taught a new way to live with the law – a way that made the burden light.

    As a United Methodist, we use the quadrilateral of scripture, tradition, reason and experience when we are discussing scriptural issues. This often means that we cannot come to a declarative statement in a short amount of time. We read the scripture, doing a full exegetical and historical look; we look at what our tradition has shown us of living the scripture; we use the brains we have and the guidance of the Spirit to discern the meaning, and finally we look at the experience of those around us. What are those in this world showing us of their life.

    I may have gone off topic, but as a Christian and a Lesbian I find it hard to listen to the spiritual abuse that is often found in these type discussions.

  • AME

    I just want to comment that healthy celibacy is not a denial of sexual orientation, but a gift of self to serve Jesus Christ as a person of singular mission in the world in preparation for the Kingdom of God. It is something that both people of heterosexual and homosexual orientation should seriously consider and discern.

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