Coming Out of the Closet, part II
In my previous post, I discussed the fact that Christian singer Jennifer Knapp has come out as a lesbian. I gave commentary on two of her statements to the press, one given on Larry King Live and the other appearing in Christianity Today. Knapp is, very sadly, trying to justify her homosexuality. She is speaking far above her level of knowledge, and she admits that she is doing so.
Knapp said that she is no Greek scholar, yet that doesn’t stop her from weighing in on the debate about the meaning of malakos and arsenokoites from Paul’s letters. Gay theologians are the only ones who try to debate that these words mean anything other than homosexuality. Modern etymologists agree that Paul has homosexuality in view when he wrote those words.
Knapp also said that she is no theologian, but she argued that since Christians eat shellfish and wear mixed fabrics (both of which are prohibited by the Bible), that we should also be allowed to engage in homosexual acts. She is ignoring the fact that eating shellfish and wearing mixed fabrics are ceremonial in nature, while homosexuality is read as a universal moral precept. With the Mosaic Law, the universals always apply while the ceremonial regulations have been superseded by Jesus.
Continuing with some commentary on Knapp’s media statements, she says this to Christianity Today:
I’m not capable of fully debating that well. But I’ve always struggled as a Christian with various forms of external evidence that we are obligated to show that we are Christians. I’ve found no law that commands me in any way other than to love my neighbor as myself, and that love is the greatest commandment. 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.
Wow. Basically, Knapp feels stifled by trying to act like a Christian. That sounds like she’s creating a false religion and trying to adhere to its laws. We’re not called to act like Christians. We’re called to be Christians. There is a huge difference.
Note that once becoming a Christian, Paul says that the believer is a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). Much of the exhortations in the New Testament (as well as many in the book of Proverbs, see this post for more on conditions of the heart) are to have a right heart before God. Hence Paul telling us to “take every thought captive” and to think on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable (2 Cor 10:5 and Phil 4:8). Knapp correctly states we are to love one another, and that is the greatest commandment (Mt 22:34-40 and Jn 13:35). However, Paul tells us that that love comes from a pure heart (1 Tim 1:5). Motivation is key. A right relationship with God is foremost. The rules are pretty much secondary to all of that.
People can act like a Christians all they want. They can love their neighbors, they can prophesy, they can drive out demons. Even so, Jesus will still turn many of those people away. Why? Because he doesn’t know them (Mt 7:21-23). The key isn’t acting. It’s being. That’s why the apostles (and Solomon in Proverbs) seem to act as “thought police” when writing the Scriptures.
Knapp isn’t the only one making blunders. Bob Botsford made a huge one:
KING: You paint the picture. Your — in the Old Testament — I’m not a Biblical scholar — you can’t eat shellfish. Do you eat shellfish?
KING: You’re a sinner.
BOTSFORD: No I’m not. There are some things, Larry, that are very important to keep in context here. Although there are verses in the Book of Leviticus that say don’t eat shellfish, don’t wear clothes that have different materials on it, things that Jennifer has mentioned in the article that she has given in the news coming out — you know what, God changed his mind on shellfish.
KING: When did he do that?
BOTSFORD: There is a wonderful passage —
LYNN: God changed his mind on mankind. And he gave his savior for one and for all.
BOTSFORD: He changed his mind, if I can finish, in Acts Chapter 10, to answer your question, Larry, on shellfish. And Cornelius has this amazing enlightenment, as Peter has this vision of the lord saying eat whatever you want.
KING: Peter may have been hungry. No pun intended.
BOTSFORD: There is this grace that comes upon all of us no longer to live by the law of the Old Testament. But when you get to the issue of homosexuality, he doesn’t change his mind on that. It flows over into the New Testament as powerfully as it was in the Old Testament.
KING: Peter gets a vision about shellfish. What if Ted gets a vision about homosexuality that says, since it’s not a choice, and as long as a person is observant and good, it is no longer a sin. You will not believe Ted?
BOTSFORD: God didn’t use Ted to write the scriptures. And the scriptures that have been written are the scriptures that I go by.
KING: Nothing is being written today?
BOTSFORD: Absolutely not.
Wow. Again. God “changed his mind on shellfish.” That’s amazing. Changing your mind implies that you made a mistake and are correcting it. God doesn’t–can’t, by definition–make mistakes. No need to change his mind; he gets it right the first time. Hence Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Now that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t respond to what we do in time, but that’s really a different story for another post. For our purposes here, all I’m saying is that God doesn’t follow course of action A on Tuesday morning, then implement course of action B on Wednesday evening because of unforeseen action C on Wednesday afternoon. As there is no human action unforeseen, A would have already taken C into account–no need for B to have ever crossed God’s mind.
The dietary laws served their purpose in their time. God isn’t changing his mind on shellfish at all. The prohibition has run its course and served its purpose, so it is no longer needed. That was part of God’s plan all along.
Knapp is obviously trying to justify her sin, but I have no idea what Botsford is trying to do. From his initial post on the subject of Knapp’s lesbianism, it seemed as if Botsford was articulate and intelligent. I still think that he is both of those, but he might need to do a bit more work in the theology of the Mosaic Law and its place in our society.