Jennifer Knapp Comes Out

Jennifer Knapp is a popular Christian musician who recently announced she is gay. She took a 7 year break from the Christian music scene and will be releasing a new album called Letting Go. Here are some excerpts from her interview in Christianity Today:

Around 2002, I was starting to contend with this new-found “issue” in my life. But I’d already decided to leave music before I knew I was going to contend with that. I don’t want anyone to think that I ran out of town with my tail between my legs because I had something to hide. [...]

I’m certainly in a same-sex relationship now, but when I suspended my work, that wasn’t even really a factor. I had some difficult decisions to make and what that meant for my life and deciding to invest in a same-sex relationship, but it would be completely unfair to say that’s why I left music. [...]

[I've been in a same-sex relationship] about eight years, but I don’t want to get into that. [...]

During my college years, I received some admonishment about some relationships I’d had with women. Some people said, “You might want to renegotiate that,” even though those relationships weren’t sexual. Hindsight being 20/20, I guess it makes sense. But if you remove the social problem that homosexuality brings to the church—and the debate as to whether or not it should be called a “struggle,” because there are proponents on both sides—you remove the notion that I am living my life with a great deal of joy. It never occurred to me that I was in something that should be labeled as a “struggle.” The struggle I’ve had has been with the church, acknowledging me as a human being, trying to live the spiritual life that I’ve been called to, in whatever ramshackled, broken, frustrated way that I’ve always approached my faith. I still consider my hope to be a whole human being, to be a person of love and grace. So it’s difficult for me to say that I’ve struggled within myself, because I haven’t. I’ve struggled with other people. I’ve struggled with what that means in my own faith. I have struggled with how that perception of me will affect the way I feel about myself. [...]

Christian music has been a great surprise for me, but I didn’t aspire to be a Christian music artist. I aspired to be a Christian in my private life, and I think it’s a wonderful side effect that can happen with music—that you can get a lot of people to share in that specific experience. So it would be a tragedy if people couldn’t see the forest for the trees, to see the connectivity between Kansas and Letting Go. It’s there for me, gratefully, with a big, huge, massive sigh of relief. It’s not like I left Christian music because Christian music was bad, or that I’m not participating in church because the church is evil. It’s none of those things. For me, it’s the journey that I’m on, trying to figure things about as best I can.

  • Custador

    Gay + Christian = Cognitive dissonance + Denial + Dishonesty with self.

    • JohnMWhite

      Considering the mental contortions and compartmentalising of their own identity that gay Christians will be literally forced to go through in their early life, I can forgive them a bit of cognitive dissonance.

      • Lisa S

        What JMW said..

    • Revyloution

      Exactly Custador. I never understand people who cant see the blatant contradictions in their positions.

      Its like the people who said they would vote for Hillary Clinton, but would never vote for Obama. WTF? Their views on policy were almost identical!

      Gays for Jesus, the Gay Republicans, the society of antidisestablishmentarianism who hate redundancy group (TSAWHRG for short), people who get a PHD in biology yet still think evolution is a farce,…. How do these people tie their shoes?

      Which leads to the real question. What would be more difficult, being a gay Catholic, or a Jehovahs Witness vampire?

      • http://scotteriology.wordpress.com/ Scott Bailey

        Read Leviticus 17:10-14… being a Jewish Vampire would suck!!!!!!

      • Togii

        I suppose cafeteria Christians are nothing new.
        Homosexuals seem to get a lot of hate for just being who they are.. possibly being somewhat shunned/abused by society makes them yearn more for the idea of a loving heavenly father, and thus more likely to overlook, somehow, the negative aspects of their religion.

        Children with abusive or neglectful parents often greatly yearn for their (horrible) parents to love or approve of them, even into adulthood.

        ….although that doesn’t make it any less horrible or perplexing.

      • JohnMWhite

        “Its like the people who said they would vote for Hillary Clinton, but would never vote for Obama. WTF? Their views on policy were almost identical!”

        Their skin colour wasn’t.

        Also one was from Kenya. You betchya.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/juniverses/sets/ juniverses

        I didn’t even know that your type of position is possible, because I hadn’t ever imagined before anyone so unable to grasp subtilties. Yes indeed, identity is not one stupid block of the same stone. Yes indeed, people are full of subtilties, and this is not a bad sign but an indicator of intelligence. If a Christian happens to be gay, despite the way the Bible condemns homosexuals, it does not mean that he/ she didn’t “get the whole story”. It just means that he/ she is a little more complex than the majority of people are and that he/ she took some time to clarify his/ her reasons for keeping the faith alive. I am not a Christian nor a homosexual, but I think most of us human beings are not just blocks of identity. This type of complexity is more a sign of intelligence than a sign of ignorance… As for your example about Biology, if there were no one in the scientific field to contest the dominant theories, science would never advance! Contestation is a sign of intellectual life. If every scientist agreed on every aspect of scientific theories, sciences would never progress. It’s enough to read “The structure of Scientific Revolutions” by Th. Kuhn to get it…

        • Revyloution

          if you read about scientific revolutions, and understood them, then I have no idea why your’e defending gay Christians or biologists for creationism.

          The great revolutions in science came about by presenting the current body of knowledge with a great cognitive dissonance. Working through that dissonance is what brought about the revolution, not the idea itself.

          Einstein is a perfect model for how it works. He presented an idea that was contrary to all the current theories. There was a great period of debate argument where they did big experiments. At the end of the debate, they discarded old useless ideas and adopted the new more useful ideas. No cosmologist or physicist thinks about the steady state universe anymore. It’s an old idea that can’t stand up to the light of current evidence and experimentation.

          Why should religion, creationism or any other old idea get any more respect than the Steady State theory? If the idea can’t stand up to careful scrutiny then it should be abandoned.

          I wish people could abandon religious dogma the way Edmund Hoyle abandoned the Steady State hypothesis. He hung on to it like a rotweiler, fought tooth and nail to defend it. The day that he had sufficient evidence evidence, he simply walked away from it and adopted relativity. That is scientific thinking.

    • Sunny Day

      http://unreasonablefaith.com/2009/12/23/spag-and-the-liberal-christian/

      Believe what you want to believe and then call yourself a christian. Its quite simple really. You don’t have to let a group set the rules for your membership. I think of myself as a Democrat but I don’t want to control guns.

      • Revyloution

        Sunny Day, the big difference between being a Democrat and being a Christian is that one group pretends to have access to an omnipotent being who bestows Real Truth upon his followers.

        And no, I don’t mean Bill Clinton.

    • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

      Gay + Christian = Cognitive dissonance + Denial + Dishonesty with self.

      So, a woman who has just come out publicly — in a conservative Christian magazine, no less!! — is somehow in denial about who she is and is dishonest with herself (and therefore others)?

      Did you even read the article?

      • Custador

        Yes, I did. Anybody who wants to be a Christian, Jew or Muslim and who is homosexual is doing some serious mental gymnastics to justify belonging to a religion which openly curses and despises them.

        • Custador

          Incidentally, I am aware that I’m generalising there, however to me a Christian is a person who believes in the Bible and the Bible says no to teh ghey.

          • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

            Well, there’s the difference, then. Jennifer explains what it means for her to follow Christ (and hence be Christian). It’s really unfair of you to call her dishonest based on your definition of the words she uses to describe herself, instead of hers — don’t you think?

            • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

              Direct quote, for reference to what I’m talking about:

              During my college years, I received some admonishment about some relationships I’d had with women. Some people said, “You might want to renegotiate that,” even though those relationships weren’t sexual. Hindsight being 20/20, I guess it makes sense. But if you remove the social problem that homosexuality brings to the church—and the debate as to whether or not it should be called a “struggle,” because there are proponents on both sides—you remove the notion that I am living my life with a great deal of joy. It never occurred to me that I was in something that should be labeled as a “struggle.” The struggle I’ve had has been with the church, acknowledging me as a human being, trying to live the spiritual life that I’ve been called to, in whatever ramshackled, broken, frustrated way that I’ve always approached my faith. I still consider my hope to be a whole human being, to be a person of love and grace. So it’s difficult for me to say that I’ve struggled within myself, because I haven’t. I’ve struggled with other people. I’ve struggled with what that means in my own faith. I have struggled with how that perception of me will affect the way I feel about myself.*

              That’s what she means when she calls herself a Christian, and it’s brutally honest and authentic — the exact opposite of what you called her.

            • Custador

              No, I don’t. I think anybody who calls themselves “Christian” whilst cherry-picking which bits of the bible to follow and which to ignore is fundamentally dishonest.

            • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

              Well, that’s just ridiculous. Sorry if that seems blunt, that’s how I feel about it. You know a lot about Christianity and the bible. You should know from history that Christianity as a movement predates the bible. You should also know that Jesus himself rejects parts of the bible. You should also know that Christians have always ignored portions of the bible.

              Do you honestly mean to tell me that I’m not a Christian because I don’t plan on stoning my kids when they talk back to me?

              That’s absurd, and you know it.

            • Custador

              Not as absurd as the idea that your holy book is the word of God but that you as a mortal have the right to pick and choose parts of it, no. It’s easy enough to rationalise doing it, but when boiled down that’s how it comes out.

            • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

              Now you’re just trying to save face. You would never consider questioning that I’m a Christian in the course of normal conversation. That would be absurd — anyone can see that. But, you’re doing it now to save face and appear consistent with what you said above, instead of just admitting you overstated your opinion in the first place.

              To top it off, you’re putting all sorts of words in my mouth to deflect from the question at hand — which is whether or not your words about a Christian woman coming out of the closet were unfair or not.

              You’re above this. Just admit you overstated things, no big deal. Fact is, you’re in no position to judge whether or not this woman, me, or anyone else is justified in calling themselves a Christian — and you are certainly not in a position to judge whether or not she’s being honest with herself, her sexual identity, and her faith.

              Good Lord, a Christian lecturing an atheist about being sensitive to homosexuals. There’s something you don’t see everyday.

            • Custador

              Well, that’s a rather absurd accusation! I have no problem at all admitting when I’m wrong – but on this I am not wrong.

              1) I have put no words in your mouth. I have made observations about Christians in general.

              2) If somebody self-describes as a Christian, I’m hardly going to bother arguing it – I leave that particular job to other Christians.

              3) I never said she was not Christian, I said that she is massively intellectually dishonest in order to justify being both Christian and homosexual at the same time.

              4) I’m a male nurse. Do you seriously think I’d last ten seconds if I had any issue whatsoever with homosexuality? I couldn’t give a rat’s arse which particular brand of “whose bush?” she wants to play and nothing I have said is in any way homophobic.

            • John C

              BR, just curious, what were you referring to when you stated that ‘JC himself rejects parts of the bible’? Please know that I have zero interest in squabbling, debating, am sincerely intrigued by your comment, thx.

            • Custador

              Isn’t there a passage in the NT in which JC talks about how everything that has come before (i.e the OT) is no longer relevant?

  • Ty

    Gah. Halfway there, Jennifer. Halfway there.

  • Peter Cross

    Is that a tattoo on her shoulder?
    Leviticus 19:28

    • Custador

      “Man shall not lie with man as man lies with woman”? Leviticus says nothing at all about lesbians.

    • Custador

      Oh, sorry! Just bothered my arse to look it up. Yeah, fair one.

    • Revyloution

      That’s the one about not putting any marks on your body, right?

      • Custador

        Yeah, no self-harming or tattoos – Leviticus bans emos :D

      • JohnMWhite

        So, what’s this circumcision thing?

        Reminds me of the time I had a discussion with someone about tattoos. She thought they were sinful because they were “vandalism of the temple of the Holy Spirit” and you should never damage your body in any manner whatsoever. My response was “You’re wearing earrings”. Apparently those don’t count, but I never got the verse where the exception comes from.

    • yahweh

      What about leviticus 19:19?
      I think that’s the one about wearing a cotton/polyester blend. We’re all an abomination!

      • Roger

        Not if you shop at Saks!

  • salbro1

    Wow, I can’t imagine how difficult this must’ve been for her. Many of her old fans are going to chew her up and spit her out. Doing an interview in Christianity Today takes some nerve. Christianity notwithstanding, I commend her.

  • Jeremy

    From the CT article:

    At a certain point I find myself so handcuffed in my own faith by trying to get it right—to try and look like a Christian, to try to do the things that Christians should do, to be all of these things externally—to fake it until I get myself all handcuffed and tied up in knots as to what I was supposed to be doing there in the first place.

    If God expects me, in order to be a Christian, to be able to theologically justify every move that I make, I’m sorry. I’m going to be a miserable failure.

    No kidding on cognitive dissonance. It’s almost heartbreaking. I loved Knapp’s music back in the day, and my wife is still a fan (I’m debating whether or not to share this news with her).

    Since she’s quite honest on this not being a Christian record I’ll probably pick it up. She definitely has talent.

    • Jasowah

      I agree with salbro1 that this is definitely something to be commended. Although she seems like she is still quite chained to her religion, I hope that this event helps her to grow out of it.

      Also, her interest in handcuffs INTRIGUES me. =D

      • Ivan

        I dunno, it sounds to me like she’s actually starting to become quite unchained from her faith. I mean, she doesn’t go to church, and she writes a song called Letting Go which she says refers to either God or her faith as a menace.

        Sounds like a future atheist to me. (yay!)

        The handcuffs and knots do sound pretty kinky, don’t they.

  • Francesco Orsenigo

    I find the comments on the original article far more interesting.
    They are split half and half between those condemning her (and some even the magazine oO) and those supporting her enthusiastically.

    Many of them, on both sides, are citing the Bible to support their thesis.
    Seems to me that their God could have expressed Himself more clearly and avoided a lot of confusion. oO

    • Tobytwo

      I complained to my pastor about the bible being a very poor vehicle for God to communicate with us. He said it’s not his place to question God’s wisdom in filtering His message through a tribal people centuries ago. We have to seek God on His terms, or some garbage like that.

      • JohnMWhite

        Another manner in which this sounds a lot like an abusive relationship.

  • http://blog.obscenitease.com Zeno

    Back ‘in the day’… when I was a fundy… I really loved Jennifer’s music. It truly is a shame that Christians are such nasty judgmental fucks. I’m happy to see that she was strong enough to tell the truth… maybe she’ll be brave enough to face the rest of the shit in that thing called ‘faith’?

    Great Post… I’m gonna spread it around!

  • http://atheists-and-christians.blogspot.com/ Mike aka MonolithTMA

    Good for her!

  • Siberia

    Kudos to her. Strong girl.
    Is it horrible that my first thought was “well, I’d go lesbian for her, too”?

  • DDM

    Technically she’s not gay, she’s a lesbian. If you want to use a gender-neutral word use homosexual.

    • Jasowah

      I’ve always wondered about that. I grew up hearing that “Gay” meant liking the same sex and that “lesbian” was two women (not to say that it is). “Gay” seems to be used very often to describe the homosexual community (which is often, instead, called the “gay community” in the news, is it not?).
      What is up with that eh?

      • Daniel Florien

        And when someone says “gay pride” do they only mean men, not women? I doubt it. :)

  • Peter Cross

    I’m certainly in a same-sex relationship now, but when I suspended my work, that wasn’t even really a factor.

    (Q) Have you been with the same partner for a long time?
    Knapp: About eight years, but I don’t want to get into that.


    Must be hoping that the readership is poor in math.

    • JohnMWhite

      It could be that they’ve been in a close relationship for eight years that didn’t have a romantic or sexual dimension (at least overtly) until after she took her break from music. Or it could just be that it didn’t have any bearing on her decision to take that break.

    • Confused

      “That decision [to leave the christian music scene] came mid-2001, but my schedule didn’t allow me to stop until September 2002, when I did my last show; I basically still had about a year and a half worth of contracted concerts and other things before I could stop.”

  • claidheamh mor

    Good follow-up to Antony Flew’s so-miscalled “conversion”. Might be interesting, for those who follow the news more closely than I do, to compare christian reactions to each switch-a-roo.
    I suspect they’ll wet their pants over one and dismiss the other.

  • Sarah

    I don’t envy her position–she’ll have Christians saying she’s not Christian enough and that she’s living in sin. And she’ll have people on the more liberal end of the spectrum telling her that it’s foolish to still believe at all or critique her for not being more of an “activist” about her sexuality. I hope the best for her–a happy, satisfying life, whatever that may look like for her.

  • EBrock

    This also brings up the pertinent issue of gender bias in the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality. From what I remember, the Bible never actually says “homosexuality” is wrong–it simply condemns “men lying with men as with a woman”. Unsurprisingly, since it was written by men, it only condemns women who practice beastiality, not “lesbianism”. So, she may not actually be practicing an abomination.

    It’s been a while since I’ve read the Bible, but I do not remember any specific reference related to lesbianism. Interpretation might suggest that it falls under other sexual condemnations, but I have always found it interesting that it specifies the male practice as an abomination, not the female.

    I would certainly love to hear others opinion on this aspect of issue.

    • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

      The words “homosexuality” and “lesbianism” are modern inventions that do not appear in the bible. But you’re wrong about female homosexual acts never being addressed at all (see Romans 1).

      It’s my opinion that the bible addresses certain types of homosexual acts (and condemns them). There aren’t any celebrations of any types of homosexual acts or relationships as far as I’m aware. I think it’s easy to explain why: I don’t think any of the biblical authors would have had a category for homosexual relationships in the way that we do now; in other words, they didn’t know of it, so they couldn’t address it. It simply wasn’t part of their culture in the way that it is ours (maybe in some places in the NT, certainly not the OT).

      That’s precisely why you get Christians on both sides of the issue.

      • Roger

        There aren’t any celebrations of any types of homosexual acts or relationships as far as I’m aware.

        Well, that depends on how one interprets the David/Jonathan story in 1 Samuel and David’s lament for Jonathan after he died. In my mother’s church, preachers fell over themselves to make sure everyone knew that there was nothing even remotely sexual going on between them. Doesn’t quite explain why Saul got his robes in a bunch over their “friendship,” but whatevs.

        Nevertheless, I think you’re right; the writers of the biblical texts wouldn’t have been able to fathom the notion of “sexuality”–rather, you were the acts you performed. If you were schtupping men, you weren’t a homosexual, you were a deviant who could stop being a deviant once you stopped doing deviant things.

    • EBrock

      Although I understand that lesbian & homosexual are modern terms, I use them to illustrate the obvious discrepancy of the Bible’s condemnation of the two sexual practices.

      Romans 1:26 still does not specifically condemn the act of “lesbianism”. It says “…women did change the natural use into that which is against nature”. That could certainly be interpreted as meaning women-with-women, but it is not addressed directly. It could easily refer to a multitude of other “vile affections”.

      Unlike 1:27 where it specifically indicts male homosexuality–”And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly…” Here, there is no doubt as to what is being condemned.

  • James Covey

    EBrock, I believe you could read Romans 1:26-27 for perspective.

    It is the mere presence of sin that separates man for God, not any specific type of sin. Taken to a logical extreme, a Christian is free to do anything and is not condemned, since the price has been paid. Paul refutes that as faulty logic (I Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23) In Acts 15:29 and 21:25 it states that there are some sins that a Christian should refrain from as it is damaging both the the body, and to that individual’s witness; and sexual sin is one of those.

  • Lurker

    Wow. It was just 9 years ago last week that I got a Jennifer Knapp CD for my 18th birthday.. from a girl in my church, back when I was still ‘crazy for God’. Loved the music.

    Ironically, I reconnected with the giftgiver a few weeks ago over OKCupid and Facebook. I find out that she’s bi now, she found out that I was poly (and my Methodist wife is bi), and now we find out that even Jennifer Knapp is lesbian. Heh. The times, they are a’changin’.

  • Chris P

    Why can the religious not see the different opinions on homosexuality between the many religions, accept the fact that god is supposed to have spoken to them and realize that this is impossible.

    The only answer is that there is no god.

  • Yabo

    While everything in me hopes this is a Poe, I’m afraid it might not be:

    Christian In Mississippi Posted: April 15, 2010 7:59 AM
    When people like Jennifer Knapp feel it’s okay to “come out of the closet,” it hurts Christian families who have gay kids! People like her are making it harder and harder to shame our gay children into staying in the closet. My best friend makes her 17-year-old son take Prozac in order to keep his fleshly teenage homosexual desires and hormones under control while he’s undergoing ex-gay therapy. If he had been taught in school that being gay was okay, or had read about other “Christians” coming out of the closet, he’d probably be TWICE as suicidally depressed as he already is, because he wouldn’t have any hope that he can change! Jennifer – think of the children! You’re giving them false hope.

    Sickening. Absolutely sickening.

    • Siberia

      Yeah. The replies are just depressing, when not downright nasty.
      I just hope she survives the fallout and comes over to camp atheist.


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