Friday, April 23, 2010

Jennifer Knapp on Larry King: A Catholic Perspective

Jennifer Knapp, a famous Grammy-nominated Christian singer, came out as a lesbian and is being featured on Larry King Live tonight, Saturday, April 23, 2010. She says she is still a strong Christian, despite her sexuality. Joining her on the show were Pastor Bob Botsford and Ted Haggart (former pastor).

One of the main themes presented was that how can we say Jennifer is doing something wrong when we could potentially be doing something wrong ourselves. Or, since we are all sinners, how can we focus on the sin of homosexuality. That's a good point. All sins must be looked at and solutions must be sought. Everyone has an obligation to live holy lives and anything getting in the way must be avoided. The difference here is that Jennifer says there is nothing wrong with her behavior. She denies the sinfulness of homosexual activity, even though Christianity opposes it and says it is a sin. In Catholic teaching, homosexual behavior is grave matter and can potentially be a serious sin.

If an individual was on Larry King and that pastor was there again and he said "I am very greedy. I steal money and scam people. I don't think it's a sin though. Therefore you cannot tell me I'm wrong." The difference is that the individual is consenting to the sinful behavior and is not doing anything to stop it. If Jennifer pointed out a particular sin of the pastor, he could then say he will try to stop his behavior.

Also, the idea of not judging came up frequently. Are we really not to judge? What does this mean? The truth is we are not to judge an individual's heart or their standing with God. We cannot say if someone is in a state of mortal sin. But we can and must judge actions, mostly our own, but we can also look at actions around us to determine if they are right or wrong. Jesus told many people to go and sin no more. He didn't ignore the sin or pretend it didn't exist. We must love the sinner, but hate the sin. We must correct the sin, but always do so with love.

There were more issues brought up on Larry King, and I think they are being addressed to some extent by the guests, but incompletely.

First of all, Jennifer objects to the translation of the original Greek, saying perhaps we translated it wrong. Of course, homosexual behavior is forbidden in several places in both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus speaks about the commitment of one man to one woman. Paul says homosexual behaviour is a sin. It is very clear. To say perhaps we translated it wrong is a far-fetched tactic.

Related to this, the topic of Old Testament proscriptions against wearing two types of fibers, eat shellfish, etc. Of course, we know the old law was fulfilled in the New Testament in the person of Jesus Christ. He did not abolish the old law, but fulfilled it. Many things were pointing to the arrival of Jesus. However, like I said, he did not destroy the law when he established a new and everlasting covenent. There are Old Testament and New Testament laws against homosexual behavior.

Another very hot button topic that came up during the exchange, which was heated at times, was whether homosexuality was a choice and if not, how is it a sin. This topic, in my opinion, was addressed very poorly. Protestantism generally views homosexuality in and of itself to be a sin. Therefore a person with same-sex attraction would be committing a sin. So Larry asked if someone who did not choose to be homosexual would be committing a sin. The pastor did not a have a good explanation for this, but basically said they would be guilty. Larry King wondered aloud how something not learned could be a sin. The pastor had no good response. The Catholic Church views homosexual desire as a burden, which does not remove a person's need to remain chaste. Same-sex attraction would be seen as a temptation but not as a sin in itself. However, homosexual activity would be considered sinful.

The Church is not targetting homosexuals. In fact, the prohibition against homosexual sex comes more as a necessary consequence of a broader teacher than a particular proscription. The church believes sex is meant for marriage between a man and woman, because it is meant as both unitive (for the spouses) and procreative. Any type of sex outside this bond does not conform to this plan. This would include any number of sexual behaviors.

Another issues this brings up is Biblical interpretation. The two ministers on the show came from a Bible alone approach. There was no final authority on matters of faith and morals. This weakness was exploited by Jennifer Knapp who pitted her or another church's or pastor's interpretation of the Bible against his. That's one of the pitfalls of personal interpretation and one of the reasons why there are over 30,000 Protestant denominations in the world.

I'm not writing this article to say how bad Jennifer Knapp is. Surely many people, including me, have sins that we are ashamed of and perhaps feel burdened by. It's important for us to place our trust in God and to seek to do his will.


  1. But the point is, your sin is also willful.

  2. (For example, I... a person.. am a Christian that is not heterosexual. I don't know if it is a sin or not... in fact, I'm sometimes sure it is, and sometimes, just agnostic about that topic in general. How is this different from the sin that you commit, which, when committed, is also willful.)

  3. And once you accept that point, I guess there's a lot of weeping to be done for errors done by Christendom at large.

  4. I think it's the internal "but I try not to" that's confuddling Christendom about this topic. The solution is believing in the finished work of Jesus Christ. We are saved because of what he did on our behalf, and that is the basis upon which the Lord affords us a relationship.

  5. phil

    please explain to me where the words of scripture declares homosexuality a sin, because i have never found it. what i have found is believers either assigning meaning to verses in spite of their words or adding their own stroke to support their theology.

    and please explain how being homosexual comes against the 2nd commandment(love your neighbor.......) the summation of ALL new covenant law.

    please explain how those who have not only been deemed to have commited a mortal sin, but have held it up as good and of god, have never been found lacking in any sector of society compared to heterosexuals. they are not less a friend, father, brother, neighbor, doctor,counselor, teacher,pastor, therapist, etc. could we say the same of those who hold up thievery and murder in the same way?

  6. We love our homosexual brothers, yet the act of homosexuality is wicked, an abomination, a detestable act, unnatural, a degrading passion, worthy of death - not worthy to inherit the Kingdom of God:

    Concerning the men who wanted to have relations with other men and were ravishly acting on impulse, Lot responded, "Please brothers, do not act wickedly." (Exodus 19:7)

    "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination..." (Leviticus 18:22)

    "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them..." (Leviticus 20:13)

    When men distort the truth of God and become degraded by their passions, having "abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error..." (Romans 1:25-32) no longer acknowledging God, He gives them up to a depraved mind