Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Jennifer Knapp - coming out as a gay person. Oh, and she's Christian, too.




Good for Jennifer Knapp! I got information yesterday as soon as the article came out in Christianity Today, that Jennifer Knapp is gay - and still Christian!

Of course this interests me, as it probably does other readers of this blog. It was only about 18 months ago (Sept. 12, 2008) that Ray Boltz (my former husband) made his public announcement or "coming out" statement. (Unfortunately, that article is not available online from the Washington Blade.) During the months that have followed, reactions from Christian fundamentalist/evangelical news venues/online magazines/media reports have been terrifically negative, but mostly they died down with a little time. However, all of those journalistic efforts had to take their information from the Washington Blade article (a publication for gay and lesbian news), because at that time and for some time afterward, Ray had only agreed to that one series of interviews (with Joey DiGuglielmo).

But back to Jennifer's announcement...Like Ray, Jennifer had decided several years ago that she'd had enough of the Christian music tour route, and she dropped out. According the the article, there were several reasons, but at no time does she say she was ashamed of her sexual orientation.
"That was a straw [in my decision], but there were many straws on the camel's back at the time. 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."


Jennifer was asked about "struggling" with same-sex attraction, and I was struck by how the question was couched. The interviewer, over and over, seemed determined to draw from Jennifer some kind of remorse for simply following her heart. Jennifer candidly said that there are many other issues that she's struggled with:
"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."


Isn't that a graceful reply? I thought so. Jennifer made no apology for simply following her goal to live truthfully.

Throughout the interview, or at least with the questions that were shared, Jennifer continually answered with genuine replies. I loved it when she said, "I'm just a normal human being who's dealing with normal everyday life scenarios. As a Christian, I'm doing that as best as I can." Isn't that what most people want? Or, at least a majority of those spiritual folks who follow Jesus?

Jennifer isn't trying to lead a brigade of activists, or to try to debate theology. Just like Ray, she needed to live her life honestly. Fortunately, she had not married a straight spouse, which would have gone against her God-created and natural desires. Jennifer is now able to be forthcoming about her sexual orientation. While still being private about her partner, she acknowledges that she has someone to whom she is committed. Thankfully, she is building an honest relationship with the person she loves. Unlike other talented Christian artists who are closeted and gay, she won't have to hide or deny ANYTHING about her sexual orientation.

Personally, I want to commend Jennifer, and I wish her all the best. A question that is often asked of someone who appears to have "changed" (although they really haven't) is, "Are you happy?" Jennifer replied: "I'm the happiest I've ever been."



As I've googled and tried to write this blog in the past 24 hours, there have erupted a great number of criticisms of Jennifer as well as Ray. Along with the comments, a whole new round of people are finding out and seem to like bashing Ray. I've even had a slew of new hate mail, and it seems to be the worst of the worst.

23 comments:

Karen said...

Carol,

It is a beautiful statement. I wish that simply living with integrety as the person God made one didn't cause such a horrible reaction from some segments of the church.

Dawn said...

If only more known christians would step out and be true to their God-given lives like Ray and Jennifer. This courage makes me bolder more and more as I realize, if they can do it, so can I!

And thank you for your out support Carol!

BigMama said...

I absolutely LOVED her statement about the "struggle." One of the most beautiful that I've ever seen.

I'm sorry for the backlash you've encountered. What a shame that people are unwilling to accept that people are people.

hillsideslide said...

Ray took the heavy first hits when he came out. It's that much easier on everyone who comes after.

I like to think that every hit we absorb is one someone else down the line won't have to take.

You both are heroes in my book.

.... And, I was SO happy to read the news about Jennifer.

From the first day that I heard a rumor, I felt buoyed up- it made sense, she probably was gay, and, she is someone I have always loved and respected.... it opened up a new vista in my little world. One more positive example. (i thrive on examples)

this was great news. thanks for posting.

chin up. you are loved. -exactly as you are :D

Doug T. said...

Thank you, Carol. You are doing God's work, no doubt. Forty years ago in our home town, a person's life might be in danger for coming out. Now, outspoken straight people who love GLBTs have helped create a milieu in which someone who wants to be honest about leanings can be honest without much threat to being outcast, let alone being in physical danger.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. It's a beautiful statement. And I wish her all the best.

Don't you think all those fun-damn-mentalists are going to be surprised when they all end up in hell together because of their anti-Christian behavior? Yes, our God is an awesome God, but I believe even He has his limits, and when His children are unfairly scorned and people like you unjustly receive hate mail, He will act accordingly.

Black Sheep said...

Hugs, Carol.

As always, you are really and truly an inspiration. I'm so sorry that you're receiving so much hatefulness.
True expressions of love and grace without condemnation really seem to scare so many Christians. : ( Thank you for being you, because every time I come here to read what you write, I am encouraged and want so much to show God's love like you do.

Joe said...

Very interesting post. I loved Ray's and Jennifer music. But I do have a real question. Not trying to bash or be negative; this question is asked in total sincerity. I just wonder how homosexuality can be viewed in light of what the Bible says? It's an interesting question. I have a few gay friends and they are great people and I have nothing but respect for them. But this question has bothered me / interested me for some time. Thank you.

Nancye said...

Hi Carol,
thanks again for you thoughtful comments.As a Christian who has done what Ray and Jennifer have I certainly know how it feels. I'm obviously not a public person so didn't attract the same opprobrium but it still hurts.On the other hand nothing can touch the feeling of being totally and honestly oneself. It bruises my heart that Ray and Jennifer have people who think its their right to throw rocks. Do they think that Jesus hands the stones to them?

Bose said...

I loved it when she said, "I'm just a normal human being who's dealing with normal everyday life scenarios. As a Christian, I'm doing that as best as I can." Isn't that what most people want? Or, at least a majority of those spiritual folks who follow Jesus?

Thank you, Carol... I'm with you in thinking that gay people are ordinary people poking away at ordinary challenges.

Anonymous said...

To Joe:

http://www.soulforce.org/article/homosexuality-bible

This will tell you what the Bible does and doesn't say about homosexuality. You'll probably be very surprised.

hillsideslide said...

@Joe~

Also would highly recommend Jack Rogers' book, "Jesus, The Bible & Homosexuality."

The documentary "For the Bible Tells Me So" is another good resource.

Carol said...

Readers - I will make a new post about this soon, but I want the top entry to stay for a while. Sooo...PLEASE know that when I say that I get "hate mail" it is mostly to the RB website (Ray Boltz official: www.rayboltz.com) . I DO get some to my personal address, through this blog, etc., but most of that is positive and supportive. Until I no longer have to oversee that part of my job (SOON) I still have to wade through the negative stuff.

Also - thank you so very much for the love and support you share with me! I feel like I have a whole group of friends that I've never met. You are great, and thank you again.

One more thing - It also helps when you call attention to sites like Soulforce, or books like Jack Rogers's. These things HELP people understand, and they broaden our support base.

Shannon Kish said...

Wow! Carol, thank you for sharing this. Jennifer Knapp is a beautiful woman and I am so thankful that she is on the road to becoming whole through living in truth!

Liz said...

Ran across your blog this morning and am thrilled! What a great post on Jennifer. I have been pondering how (if at all) to post on this myself. She is one of my favorite musicians and continues to be one of my favorite musicians. Her responses in the article (which I read yesterday) were absolutely graceful, yes. And your post is equally so.
I have read some of the bashing - mostly on Jennifer's facebook page, and it breaks my heart. How awful, for her...for you...for anyone.
If we could all simply be responsible for our own selves and live with the same amount of truth that Jennifer is trying to do here.
I may refer back to your blog when I post on this. I hope you don't mind.
Thank you.

Daniel said...

The part of that interview that struck a chord with me was
“I’m quite comfortable to live with parts of myself that don’t make sense to you,”

Because for me as a Christian who is gay, I strived so hard to change... not for my own acceptance but for the approval of others.Getting to a point where I am fine without the approval of those who were once close to me is an incredibly good place to be!

Her statement if Wonderful and so encouraging!

Karen said...

Joe,
I would like to suggest another book for you to consider-- The New Testament and Homosexuality by Robin Scroggs. You can see more about it here: http://www.amazon.com/New-Testament-Homosexuality-Robin-Scroggs/dp/0800618548/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271370564&sr=1-1 (sorry, it never works correctly when I try to make links).

Anonymous said...

Don't listen to the misguided, negative reactions.

Haters gonna hate. :)

Anonymous said...

It is very said that so many people have such disregard for biblical truth in the name of human understanding and compassion. There are many things that feel right for various individuals, but are sinful. In this day and age anyone who holds a conviction for truth is vilified as a bigot.

Karen said...

Anonymous (the one posting April 18),
No. Just No. The Biblical truth is that we are all created in the image of God. The Biblical truth is that Jesus repeatedly told those who were the outcasts of his day that there was a place for them in God's kingdom. There is NOTHING that even hints that Jesus thought the problem was the wrong people were being excluded.

I know that there are translations of the Bible that make it seem very cut and dried that homosexuality is against God's plan. The reality is those translations tell us far more about the biases of the translators than what is in the original language. The original language simply does not support that translation.

If you want to take the time and effort to see what the Bible really says I suggest you start with the book I gave a link to in my post on April 15.

A Queer Folk Art Activist said...

Thank you for your beautiful post, and for your honesty and courage. I've written a great deal on Jennifer's coming out, as well as having followed Ray's brave journey:
http://www.queerasfolkart.blogspot.com/

Susanne-FaithWoman said...

I believe that anyone who identifies themselves as being 'Christian' ought to be following Christ, not just going by how we feel we want to be. Jesus said “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." (Luke's gospel ch.9v.23.) We are not perfect, we all need God's grace and mercy, yet we are not being true to His Word by seeking to live life in our own ways rather than obeying Christ. People often try to re-interpret the Bible's teachings to suit their own personal feelings and views. God loves us, yet He loves us so much that Jesus was actually crucified for sinners. I have nothing personal against Ray Boltz or J.Knapp, I would only say that if we call ourselves Christians, let's follow Christ not the world's ways.

Carol said...

Susanne, you appear to be a bit disappointed in Ray and Jennifer, but I would remind you that we are also instructed to not bear false witness. I believe that if one is gay, then it's quite honest to say so. God already made quite a lot of people that way, and God already knows the sexual orientation of each person. It doesn't hurt to admit it.