Jennifer Knapp on “Larry King Live”: Reason to believe

If you’ve been following Jennifer Knapp’s coming out story, you no doubt know that she appeared on Larry King Live Friday night, along with evangelical minister “Pastor Bob” Botsford and minister-caught-in-the-act-of-gay Ted Haggard.

I tuned in with a bit of trepidation because, frankly, Larry isn’t always on top of things these days and I was afraid he might wander off topic. But he was in good form, if a bit obviously on the side of JK’s perspective of things. If you haven’t watched it yet and want to, go here to see the entire show.

If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing right now, here’s a brief clip to get a feel for the tone of the hour.

Since the show is online, I’m not going to recap it. But I do want to share a few thoughts that may offer food for discussion.

First, though, I have to confess that I take this whole topic very personally. I wasn’t familiar with Jennifer Knapp until Heather Hogan wrote about her (and followed up with an excellent interview), mainly because my Christian Music library and knowledge is from the 70s and 80s, when that is the only music I listened to. But I do know how I felt when I learned that one of the founders of Christian Rock, Marsha Stevens-Pino, is a lesbian. Awesome, is how.

Since Marsha came out before the instant-information age, however, this is the first chance I’ve had to follow a Christian entertainer through the process of revealing her sexual orientation to the masses. And I must say that Jennifer is handling herself remarkably well, with grace and humor.

As we saw on Larry King, the evangelical community (which Pastor Bob represented quite accurately, I think) is not too interested in conversation about sexual orientation. (He scarcely even looked at Jennifer during his segment.) To them, the issue is black and white: “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” And, taking that statement at face value, few Christians would disagree.

The problem comes with knowing what God said. As Jennifer tried to point out, the Bible was not written in the 21st Century in American English. That presents a dilemma when it comes to believing that the Bible is literally true. But the same fundamentalists who will spend weeks studying the Greek words translated as “love” in the English language scriptures don’t want to discuss the words translated as “homosexuality.” Pastor Bob was no exception. And whether the translation is accurate makes all the difference in the world to people like Jennifer Knapp, who are Christians with a same gender sexual orientation.

Jennifer herself got to the heart of the issue when Pastor Bob said that she was trying to justify her sin. Not so, she said, because she does not agree that being a lesbian is a sin. And that, friends, is a Big Deal. Big enough to keep queer kids from living in guilt and shame. Big enough to keep teenagers reviled as perverts from killing themselves. Big enough to let gay and lesbian adults embrace their faith as well as their sexuality.

By stepping out so boldly and being willing to interact with people like Pastor Bob, Jennifer Knapp makes it easier for the rest of us to be who we are in the world. And if that’s sin, I’m all in.

What are your thoughts on Jennifer’s interview with Larry King?

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