This is not a post about homosexuality.
That’s coming; I’m actually planning an apologetic series on the subject soon, spurred on not only by the article this refers to, but also by some sincere questions from a friend who doesn’t understand my point of view on the subject. That’ll be fun…
This post, however, is about the crying, desperate need for the church to be the church—on at least a couple of fronts.
I have never listened to Jennifer Knapp’s music. I couldn’t name a song of hers, but I do know that for a period of time, she was “all that” in the world…resist the urge to say, “cesspool”…urge resisted…of contemporary Christian music. It had escaped my notice, but she took a 6+ year hiatus from singing and producing albums. Now, she’s back—and according to the article, she’s homosexual; currently, she’s in a same-sex relationship that has lasted for a number of years. She’s got a new album coming out next month, one that she claims is not a “Christian album” (by the way, is “album” the right word anymore? Hmmm…). Fine. More power to her. This is not a post about homosexuality.
It’s not even, per se, a post about the reasoning she uses—actually, fails to employ much of, if you read the article—to justify her lifestyle. But this is a post about the church—and the crying need that exists for the church to be the church.
She answers, in response to the question, “are you currently in a church in Nashville”, a terse “no”—and yet she wants to go on to talk about her faith. This is the problem—or at least one of the problems—or at least a symptom of a greater problem—or a symptom of one of the greater problems (the latter is my final answer, Regis).
A quick caveat, just so I’m clear: I have a wide—and growing ever more wide—tolerance for different kinds of expressions of the body of Christ. Each form of church has, to my way of thinking, its strengths and its limitations, whether that form be the “mega-church” or the house church, the denominational church or the independent church, the ethnically-diverse church or the homogeneous church, the seeker-sensitive, traditional, contemporary, or emerging church, or what-have-you. I’ve become a lowest-common-denominator kind of guy when it comes to thinking about church; hit the minimums (and there are a few, but only a very few), and I’m down with that. Digression over.
Here’s the deal: we have a system, and it involves not only the Christian music industry, but the Christian publishing industry, the Christian radio industry, and likely other “Christian industries”, not limited even to media, that virtually ignores the church except when it comes to marketing its wares to the church. These entities are unaccountable to the church; the bottom line for many of these industries has little to do with the mission of the church; in many cases, what these entities are peddling is actually counterproductive to what God has called the church to be and to do.
And what’s as bad, or even arguably worse, is that neither the church, its leaders, or its individual members seem to give a flying rip about correcting this terrible arrangement. Will Jennifer Knapp receive airplay on Christian radio? Will her album be bought—and enjoyed—by Christians? Beyond this, I refer you to some of the questions I raised a few weeks back about Amy Grant.
But for that matter, what church(es) approves Casting Crowns as fit for ministry, and holds the band members accountable—and beyond this, why is this information not public knowledge, prominently displayed on all its CDs? Jars of Clay—who holds those guys accountable? Stephen Curtis Chapman? Look, I don’t mean to suggest that accountability isn’t happening—I hope it is, of course—nor that Jars and SCC are heretics—I have no reason to believe that at all—but why don’t we know about this, so that we can with confidence say, “somebody is helping keep these guys in line; they’re involved in a real, solid, Christ-honoring, gospel-declaring church.” Or, conversely, we can say, “I don’t care that Phillips, Craig, and Dean sing well; their theology is highly-suspect” (and it is; did you know that?). Writing a Christian book? Super! What local body of believers puts its imprimatur upon you and your work? Who is telling Christian radio, “quit playing that silly Jesus-is-my-girlfriend music”, with the expectation, yea demand, that somebody there listen?
Sad truth is, this stuff doesn’t seem to matter to most folks, even professing Christians…but it matters, because the church matters. Because the gospel matters. Because Jesus matters.