Coming Out of the Closet, part I
It appears as though Christian singer Jennifer Knapp has recently come out of the closet. She’s been involved in a same-sex relationship for the last eight years.
I’ve written numerous times on homosexuality in the past. I’ve discussed the proper treatment of homosexual persons (and indicted the church for its shoddy treatment of such persons) and I’ve tried to answer the controversy on whether or not homosexuality is even a sin.
My conclusion is that homosexuality is inescapably condemned by Scripture, but Knapp has refused to see that. During the Larry King interview, she said:
I haven’t gone to seminary. I haven’t gone to Bible school. Yet, I’m aware of the fact — I’m deeply aware of the fact that we’re relying on the translations of Greek and that we’re translating from a language, you and I, that is not originally our own… There are a lot of well-studied academics — both believers and seekers of God and those who are just purely trying to understand what the sacred text means to all of us — that really put question on how we’ve interpreted the words, what is it malikos and arsenokitai. There are two Greek words that we have substituted in our English language as homosexuality, which didn’t actually exist in my understanding of a lot of Greek language experts in the manner in which we use it.
The Greek words malakos and arsenokoites are mentioned. Knapp says that their exact meanings are debated by etymologists. That’s slightly misleading, as I’ve discussed here. Linguistic scholarship is unified that those words refer to homosexuals. She admits that she’s no Greek scholar, then she proceeds to discuss the meaning of Greek words. She must have heard this argument from someone and decided to latch on to what was said (even though it is demonstrably wrong) in order to justify her sin.
I’ve done that before! Haven’t all of us, at one time or another, come up with extremely lame justifications for sins that we just don’t want to let go of? I’ve since repented, and I pray that Knapp does, too.
In the Christianity Today interview, Knapp has this to say about Scripture:
The Bible has literally saved my life. I find myself between a rock and a hard place—between the conservative evangelical who uses what most people refer to as the “clobber verses” to refer to this loving relationship as an abomination, while they’re eating shellfish and wearing clothes of five different fabrics, and various other Scriptures we could argue about. I’m not capable of getting into the theological argument as to whether or not we should or shouldn’t allow homosexuals within our church. There’s a spirit that overrides that for me, and what I’ve been gravitating to in Christ and why I became a Christian in the first place.
I wish that Christian press outlets would call out Christians in the public spotlight when they commit basic theological errors, but that’s a subject for another post.
When faced with the fact that homosexuality is condemned by the Bible, Knapp says that Christians eat shellfish and wear clothes with mixed fabrics. The unspoken rhetorical question is, “If we do that stuff, which the Bible also condemns, why can’t we practice homosexuality?” The answer is complex and deserves a post all its own, but I’ll try to summarize it briefly.
There are three basic divisions of the Mosaic Law. The first is universal moral precepts. The second is dietary and ceremonial regulations. The third is cultural norms. Jesus has freed us from having to keep the Law by fulfilling the Law–no orthodox, non-heretical Christian would argue otherwise. Which leaves us with the question of what to do with the Law.
What to do varies by which portion of the Law one is talking about. The universal moral precepts remain in force, obviously. They are universal. The cultural norms can be used as guideposts for right living, but aren’t followed to the letter necessairly. A fence around your roof would look rediculous, but one around your balcony makes much more sense–and fulfills the spirit of Deuteronomy 22:8. The dietary and ceremonial regulations can be disregarded (see Acts 10, especially verse 15; and the apostles’ proclaimation at Acts 15:22-35 for Gentile believers).
The prohibitions against shellfish and wearing mixed fabrics are not meant for us today. The shellfish rule is a dietary law, and the wearing of mixed fabrics was a cultural norm. The dietary law is out automatically, and there is no spiritual way (or logical reason) to follow the rule of the mixed fabrics. God wanted the Israelites to be a holy people, set apart from the world and visibly differentiated, hence many of the regulations regarding dress and appearance. Today, Christians are differentiated from the world and seen as holy through our love for one another (Jn 13:35). Our appearance and dress are not regulated the way it was under the old Law, but we should dress and present ourselves in a manner worthy of our calling.
The apostle Paul believed that the prohibition on homosexuality fell under the heading of universal moral precept. This means that it would still be in force today. Just once, instead of arguing by sound bite (as Knapp has done here), I would love to see someone try to argue that homosexuality is properly understood as a cultural norm or as a ceremonial regulation. That means we wouldn’t necessarily be bound to it in quite the way as we would a universal moral precept.
But no one ever seems to do that. All I ever see is the sound bite: We eat shellfish and bacon, we get piercings and tatoos, we wear mixed fabrics, we shave our facial hair–why can’t we be gay, too? Because all of that stuff we do now is, and should be, treated differently than a universal moral precept!
Finally, I love how Knapp invokes emotion rather than logic to make her point when she says that people use the Bible to call her loving relationship an abomination. Well, the Bible is pretty clear that, loving or not, her relationship is an abomination. Of course, I should point out that there is nothing wrong with loving someone of the same sex. I love my father. I love my son. I love my father-in-law and all my brothers-in-law. But, trying to make a marital covenant with, and/or enjoying sexual relations with, members of the same sex is wrong.