Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What I Think About--Jennifer Knapp and Cannibal Christians

If you haven’t already heard then it is upon me to tell you that Jennifer Knapp is a lesbian.  And Christians everywhere are boycotting her.

I just recently finished reading the Bible in 90 Days—more on that in another blog—and as I rummaged through my notes I was surprised to see scribbled down Galatians 5:15, “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

Is this a warning against becoming cannibal Christians?

What do I mean by that?  Cannibal Christians, a group I unfortunately have been a part of at one time or another, use their words and actions to bring death—not life—to others.  Condemnation, judgment, criticism, disapproval, blame—these are the spoiled fruit of a cannibal Christian.  Phelps and the Westboro church with their “God Hates Fags” signs are famous cannibal Christians.  Lay-cannibals are in our own churches--perhaps in our own homes.

Is it surprising to you that many people view Christians as hypocritical, judgmental, insensitive, too political, homophobic, and boring?  Does it surprise you that these opinions are formed based on EXPERIENCE with Christians?  How did Jesus’ teachings go from “love one another” to where we are today?  What are the consequences of misrepresenting Jesus? 

When I think of cannibal Christians I think of Jesus and the adulterous woman.  John 8:3 says the teachers of law and Pharisees brought before Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery—a sinner. 

Stop. 

Where is the man?  This is an important question.  Mosaic law required both men and women who committed adultery to be stoned (Lev. 20:10, Deut. 22:22).  So why is just the woman being exposed?  Is her lawless act of adultery more despicable to God than the man’s? 

Don’t we still do this?  Don’t we elevate one sin above another?  Homosexuals be damned but gossips—not so bad?  Isn’t all sin, sin (James 2:10)?

While the teachers and Pharisees speak to Jesus, he writes in the sand and then says those words that forever highlight our need to be compassionate and merciful towards others—“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

Jesus ends this encounter with the adulterous woman by saying, “Neither do I condemn you.  Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11).

Where am I going with all this?  I have a point.  I promise.

As Christians when we deal with others, especially those outside of the Church, we can be judgmental and critical.  In fact, many of us use Jesus’ words “go and sin no more” as our battle cry as we condemn sinners to hell with our proverbial bullhorns.  Is it wrong to challenge one another to lead pure lives?  NO!  A thousand times NO!

However, did we forget the first part of His sentence?  Neither do I condemn youNeither do I condemn you. Perhaps if Christians followed the first part of the sentence, the second might more readily apply.  If we lovingly and compassionately dealt with those without Christ, if neither did we condemn them, then maybe, just maybe, they’d come to know Christ and begin to address the sin in their lives. 

When it comes to homosexuality, asexuality, transexuality, intersexuality, etc., I believe Christians are facing a huge showdown with their theology.  Do we really believe that Christ came for the sick?  For the sinners?  Do we really believe that he died for the least of these?  That he died for us while we were his sinning enemies?  And if we believe that for us, do we believe it for others?  Did he die for them and their sins too?  Does “God hate fags” or did he die for them?  Are there any sins so deep and so dark and so icky that the blood of Jesus cannot wash and redeem them?

From where I stand, the answer is no.  Jesus is big enough and His love can cover a multitude of sins.

But how will people ever know that Jesus died for them if cannibal Christians, with all their judgments and hypocrisies and “holier than thou-ness” keep people from seeking Him?  How will people know that He is good, and loving, and merciful, and gracious and willing to forgive 

IF     
        WE      
                  DON’T       
                                    SHOW        
                                                       THEM?

As a Christian woman I am challenging all of you to remember what Paul wrote.  “What business is it of mine to judge those outside of the church?  Are you not to judge those inside? (1 Cor. 5:12).  It is time to put our faith where our theological mouths are. 

Your feelings on homosexuality need not be dismissed—your judgments of homosexuals must be.  Do not condemn homosexuals.  Love them.  Let Christ love them through you and He’ll take care of the rest.  Our role is not to judge when others sin.  That is God’s role.  Our role is to be forgiving and compassionate--to love as He loved us.

Finally, Jennifer Knapp.  Boycott if you think it will help her.  Boycott if you think it will show the world God’s mercy. Boycott if you think it will keep another Christian from stumbling.

But know this, I won’t boycott Knapp.  I don’t listen to her music anyway but I’ll pray for her as she fights the Christians who would rather devour her than love her where she is for who she is as she seeks to be the woman God made her to be (all the while trusting that He is working in and through her).

Is Knapp doing something that is against biblical standards?  Yes.  Do I do something every, stinking day that is against biblical standards?  Yes. (Galatians 5 has a great but not inexhaustible list of sins including: hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissention, factions, envy …). 

Will we allow Knapp to be the symbolic adulterous woman who will be stoned while the judgmental, merciless, gossiping Church, symbolic of the adulterous man gets off Scott free? 

Call sin, sin.  Don’t be afraid of that.  But when you do it, do it in front of a mirror and point to the plank in your own eye.  And then praise Jesus that He died for all sinners.  For you.  For me.  And then spread grace and mercy as willingly as He did.

Go, spread life and not death. 

And that’s what I think about Jennifer Knapp and cannibal Christians.

11 comments:

  1. Very good points. I was heart broken when I found out about Jennifer Knapp, but I knew that her music still has a great message and that I should pray for her and her struggles.
    One thing that I want to point out is that many believe that homosexuality is not a sin, therefore it is a very delicate situation. Yes we should love the person but cannot compromise our beliefs to make them feel better. It really does them no justice at all, it is a duty to stand for what is right. but I agree putting up a sign that God hates fags is not the answer at all or showing any hate toward the sinner. We should not encourage sin or love the sin but we should love the sinner including ourselves.

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  2. p.s. I don't think it is right for Christians to turn away from her and boycott per say but she would fall into the category of judge those in your church. She did choose to represent Christianity. For instance Melissa Etheridge is homosexual but sings secular music and I do like a few of her songs and would not boycott her music because she is gay, she doesn't claim to be Christian. Jennifer Knapp was representing Christianity but not living it. I am not saying boycotting her is right but I can see why the ones that did it may think it is.

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  3. I agree with your thoughts. I have wrestled with this in my mind from time to time over the last few weeks. I really don't get the boycotting thing ---about anything, not just Jennifer Knapp. People get all up in arms about things like Disney, but then don't even bat an eye or use their voice to advocate for real injustices in the world.

    That's a while other issue. People are sinners...even, all Christians. It does cause dissonance in my mind when Christians disagree on what is a sin & what is not. There are reoccurring sins in my life that I constantly struggle with & have to keep in check & watch for the devil's scheming ways. Things get blurry in my mind when Christians don't see homosexuality as a sin. Boycotting them isn't going to change their mind about this. I'm sure JK has thought this through! It will take God to change her heart/mind/actions. I pray that she has a strong community around her to speak truth to her & support her in this time. I hope she has friends that will process through things with her.

    I like your references to cannibal Christians. I definitely don't want to be one of those. Thanks for the reminder to spread the Grace & Love that is within me.

    Sorry for the scattered thoughts. Matt & I have been talking about this & my thoughts have kind of been all over the place regarding this issue. I really haven't had to directly deal with this issue with anyone I know. It's good to think about it & know where I stand for the day that God wants me to journey alongside somebody & love them as they deal with this part of life. Also for someday when my kids are exposed to this kind of thing(hopefully a VERY LONG time from now).

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  4. @Anonymous--Thank you so much for your comments. I agree that homosexuality is a sin and I think we can call it that. But what I fear is that we've made a hierarchy of sin. Why do we not boycott Christians with $70,000 credenzas or who gossip? It is a slippery slope who we think are "bad" sinner and who are "acceptable" sinners.

    If we have a relationship with a person who is homosexual and is a Christian I think we have to speak into their lives. However, I don't want to keep anyone from knowing Christ because s/he is a homosexual (or other sinner). My fear is that many of "other" sexual orientation will never come to know Christ because Christians make them feel unworthy or condemned.

    And you are right that Knapp is in the church. Following Biblical standards, her home church should address this issue with her. But like I didn't stop being jealous or envious when I became a Christian, I think Knapp might need some time to sort this out and might always fight with this sin in her life. But God can do it and until then, I can love her through it.

    Again, I appreciate your comments. Your responses were very well thought out and I'm grateful you can bring me insights in a spirit of kindness and love.

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  5. @Shelly--Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement. This is a scary thing to write about! I truly have a heart for those of "other" orientation because they are so poorly treated. But then I think about it from God's perspective and even with this very obvious sin in their lives, they are HIS people. They are the LEAST of these. They are exactly the sort of people Christ died for. And if they are HIS people, that makes them MY people.

    I have certain sins in my life that occur over and over and over again. I pray against them. I want to do good. But like a dog, I return to my vomit. IF that is true of me, I expect it to be true of others. Perhaps my sins aren't as obvious but they are still sin. And unlike Knapp, I rarely share my struggles with others because I'm afraid of being judged and condemned--exactly what she's getting.

    The biggest irony to me is the people who boycott Knapp are probably going to scream at their kids on the way to church Sunday morning, go out for brunch afterwards where they'll cuss at the waitress and complain about the pastor's wife. Then they'll get in their cars, go home, and watch a R-rated movie where they ooh and ahh over some young stud's hot body. But Jennifer Knapp--there's a sinner for you?

    Sin is sin. All of it.

    How's that for a rant.

    Did I mention I love our blog relationship?

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  6. Amen. In my parents church, some people started "boycotting" a family when they found out the Dad had been arrested 10 years earlier. And most of those participating in the boycot were some of the biggest gossips in the congregation.

    I really hate when people become overly judgemental about others sin and ignore the fact that they might have sin in their own life. Something about a splinter in someone's eye while you have a log in yours. :)

    I honestly think God doesn't have a hiarachy of sin. If you rebelled against your parents in Biblical times, you were stoned. If you committed adultry, you were stoned. Sin is sin and as Christians we shouldn't make excuses for our behavior but rather try to live how He has called us to - as redeemed and precious saints.

    And that's the end of my rant. :)

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  7. Amen! As you know I have a big mouth when it comes to the Church deciding that some sins are worse than others. I think all sin is equal and I agree that God is big enough to cover all of them. If we don't believe that he is big enough to cover homosexuality how can we truely call ourselves Christians?

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  8. Thank you and I totally agree humans want to put sins on a hierarchy. Can't say that I am not guilty of it and am the biggest judger of myself and at times my own worst enemy. I hate judging others and again can't say that I never have.
    Very good points and I agree that boycotting can be used hypocritcally. My goal is to sure my kids by example who to be and how to live for christ but also don't hide my weaknesses and sins from them but discuss them to learn from them. None of us are perfect. Because like you said we all fall short.
    I sincerly care about those struggling in the church and outside the church. Those that are saved have a blanket of Grace. No, it doesn't mean they can intentionally sin or mistreat others at all. It means that if a mistake is made or sin is commited. We can pray and ask our saviors forgiveness and lead us to victory in over our sin.
    I love reading your blog. Keep up the excellent work.

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  9. oops I meant show my kids by example.

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  10. This is a subject that I am very passionate about. It bothers me to the core that it's acceptable and OK for us point fingers at people representing the church because well, they should know better, but yet the 'LOST' ones that aren't representing godliness, well, they just don't know any better so it's ok to accept their sin for what it is.

    First of all, I believe people (representng God or not) understand right from wrong in their hearts. I also believe it is up to them and God to deal with their struggles and it is NOT our place to point fingers at ANYONE.

    I can just pray that the people close to JK are helping her through this time appropiately. With that said, it is still none of my business.

    I don't know what music these people listen to that are boycotting her, but I imagine that they have purchased other music from SINNERS representing God as well, wouldn't you? Perhaps this is because we are all sinners and ALL God's children...every single one of us! Boycotting someone does not prove anything but how hateful we can be.

    I do agree that taking a stand for what is right is what we are supposed to do here but to me what is right here is to LOVE her anyway and keep our judgements in check, NOT to boycott her because she falls short of perfection.

    It is sad that in the world today homosexuallity has become more and more accepted, but so have many other sins, including ones that I struggle with myself. I certainly can not point any fingers because I have enough sin to go around for everyone. Not only do I have sin that I struggle with, but I have sins that I have allowed myself to think are acceptable. These are things that I will talk with God about and these are things that no one else has the right to condemn me for.

    And THAT's what I think about that!

    Great Post, Reagan!!!!

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  11. @Both Sarahs--I'm amening your amens. Is that acceptable! Thanks for your constant support and encouragement. I value your friendship (especially when you agree with me! Ha ha ha!).
    @Anonymous--I too am guilty of sin hierarchy and I'm trying to get better at just lovin' people where they are 'cuz Jesus loves me where I am. True he wants me (and them) to progress but he never withholds his love till we get there! That you are intentional about modeling grace to your children will pay off. And thanks for your blog reading :)

    @Amy--love your thoughts! We always seem to see eye to eye. I too hate that sin is so accepted. And what I really hate is that some sin is more accepted than others. But what I love is that the greatest of all is LOVE!

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