When I was a teenager, the first and only concert I went to (read was allowed to go to) was D.C. Talk. I remember thinking that this whole world was out there of live music, that had been hidden from me, I wanted to run away from home and join the first Christian band that would have me. Unfortunately, that would require talent of some kind, and I was running dangerously low on that. So I just sat back and enjoyed the show, including D.C. Talk’s opener, Jennifer Knapp.
Some of you may already know that Knapp dropped off the Christian music scene about a decade ago, returning only recently…with an announcement that she is gay. When I heard this, my heart sunk, not just because of Knapp, but because now the same old party lines were going to be drawn, and Christians who shouldn’t be talking at all would be the first ones lining up to say things. And the ones who should be talking don’t actually know what to say or how to say it.
I was right.
Within a matter of days, Knapp was on Larry King Live and the fight was on. Every time these conversations go public like this, it’s only a matter of time before things get really ugly, and this was no exception. But I did find one Christian theologian (who I respect a lot) who I’m glad is speaking out about this. His name is Scot McKnight, and here’s what he had to say:
“When I posted last week about Jennifer Knapp’s decision to come out and openly tell folks, on a place like Christianity Today, my one and only concern was what folks would say about her. I feared the wrath that would come her way. I did my best to avoid deleting comments and being busy that day made it easier. But I grieved over some of them as I read them later that day.
So I want to return, not to her decisions, but to a parable by Jesus and to how we are living it out. Jesus told a parable that we call the parable of the wheat and weeds. (The whole parable can be found after the jump.) I begin with how the parable is to be interpreted:
“The field is the world,” Jesus says, and once we see that line the whole parable becomes clear. In this world, Jesus is saying, the wheat (his kingdom people) and the weeds (non kingdom people) will co-exist. They will be near and next to and intermingled with one another. He describes a peaceable co-existence.
Furthermore, Jesus says clearly, it is not the task of the kingdom people to rip out the non-kingdom people. So, his point: live together, discerning differences, with non-kingdom people and let God be the judge. Kingdom people are to wait for God to judge and not take judgment into their hands.
It begins for me with this: Jennifer Knapp is a person, a human being, an Eikon of God, someone who says she’s a Christian. I begin there. She’s not an abstract ethical position but a concrete human person. Now, to some questions…
What does it mean for kingdom people to dwell with Jennifer Knapp? (I’m not saying Jennifer Knapp is a non-kingdom person but it is patently clear to me that many commenters and bloggers think so, which makes this parable all the more significant for what they write.) Or, what does this parable tell us about how to dwell with those we don’t agree with? How have Christians responded to her? According to this parable or not?
13:24 He presented them with another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a person who sowed good seed in his field. 13:25 But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 13:26 When the plants sprouted and bore grain, then the weeds also appeared. 13:27 So the slaves of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’ 13:28 He said, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the slaves replied, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them?’ 13:29 But he said, ‘No, since in gathering the weeds you may uproot the wheat with them. 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned, but then gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”
13:36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 13:37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 13:38 The field is the world and the good seed are the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 13:39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 13:40 As the weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 13:41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everything that causes sin as well as all lawbreakers. 13:42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13:43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The one who has ears had better listen!”
So what do you think? Do you like the way that Scot is framing the conversation? Notice, he’s not saying that this isn’t a sin, but he’s trying to redirect our public conversation about sin toward ourselves first. And his primary point, one that I think Christians would be served well by paying attention to, is that Knapp is a person, not an ethical issue.
And I think he raises a fair question, How does this parable change the way we talk about these kind of moments in our world?
How does Jesus’ parable about us not having to have everything figured out about who’s in and who’s out change the way we react in these kind of cultural events?