Two weeks ago, I attended a Jennifer Knapp concert at Southern Oregon University. Ms. Knapp is a singer/songwriter who as a young woman made a name for herself in the Christian music scene, and my church (along with a few other churches and the Queer Resource Center) helped bring her to Ashland. And while her music is riveting, it was not the only reason for her visit. You see, Jennifer Knapp was adored as a Christian “rock star” until she came out as gay. Then things changed. The “Christians” that had loved her music before, now turned their backs on her. She was no longer considered one of them.
Ms. Knapp shared her spiritual journey with the audience. She explained how she tried to leave Christianity behind, but felt that the teachings aligned with her core beliefs… and came to the conclusion that even though she was “gay”, she was also a Christian.
After the concert, Jennifer took questions/comments from the audience. The one that moved me to tears went as follows. A woman in her forties shared that she had recently come out to her family, and that since that time her son has had nothing to do with her. She asked what she could do to and Jennifer said, “Love him. Whenever you see him, love him. You can’t change him… but you can love him.”
Jennifer sounds like a Christian to me, by golly. But wait, she’s gay? So the fact that she is loving, accepting, and forgiving doesn’t count then, right? Right.
A few days ago I saw on Facebook that it was the one year anniversary of this post, I am Christian, unless you’re gay. It’s a great article, and if you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to do so. The author, Dan Pearce tells us about his friend “Jacob” who is gay… and he goes on to say that his article is not about homosexuality, instead – It’s about love. It’s about kindness. It’s about friendship.
Jacob had asked Dan to share with his audience (Dan writes the blog, single dad laughing) how it feels to be gay in a conservative Christian community. Here is a quote from that article, “You don’t know what it’s like to have your own parents hate you and try and cover up your existence. I didn’t choose this. I didn’t want this. And I’m so tired of people hating me for it. I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t.”
After reading the article, my heart ached for Jacob and the fact that he is virtually being shunned by the community in which he lives for being who he is - the person God made him to be. My head raced with questions: Who are we to tell another person how to live their life? What gives us the right to judge them? What part of that kind of this behavior is “being Christian?”
From all the stories that I have heard about Jesus, I just can’t imagine him turning his back on anyone. One story that many are familiar with (and one of my favorites) is the about the woman who is to be stoned to death for being an adulterer (according to ancient law). Jesus does not question the law, but instead says “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
It seems that we are still acting like those ancient people – wanting to find fault with others (and throw stones) because they are not like us – or they’re not acting like we think they should act. And when we are focused on others, we remain blissfully blind to our own shortcomings. But try to imagine what the world might be like if we tried to be more like the man from whom we have the word “Christian”? I think it’d be pretty amazing… don’t you?
Yesterday I brought a Chocolate Cream Pie to the Queer Resource Center at SOU to thank the people who helped to bring Jennifer Knapp to our area… and to recognize them for all they do to make the university a welcoming place to all students.
You may say that I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, And the world will live as one. John Lennon