Jennifer Knapp & Larry King: Why We Always Lose this Debate

Jennifer Knapp is an american Christian singer/songwriter who recently made public her relationship with her girlfriend of 8 years.

A few weeks back she appeared on Larry King with pastor Bob Botsford, and Ted Haggard. Yesterday I read a very interesting blog responding to the interview and trying to answer this question –

Why is it that whenever a proponent of Christianity’s historical view of sexuality goes head to head with an advocate for gay rights, the traditional Christian almost always loses the argument?

The post highlights 4 interesting thoughts. The first one is particular helpful I think, (although still flawed)

1. We need to shift emphasis from the truth that “everyone is a sinner” to the necessity of repentance.

“We’re all sinners” comes up again and again in discussions like this. In her Larry King interview, Knapp realized the power of having the pastor admit that he too is a sinner. Once she received this admission, she had the upper hand in asking, “Then why are you judging me instead of me judging you?”

Whenever the discussion centers on “homosexuality is a sin… but we’re all sinners,” the traditionalist inevitably comes across looking like he is singling out homosexuality as a worse sin than all the rest. His protests to the contrary always ring hollow.

But this is the wrong way to frame this debate. We are not saying that some of us are worse sinners than others or that homosexuality is a worse sin than pride, stealing, etc. We are not categorized before God as ” better sinners” or “worse sinners.” Instead, we are either unrepentant or repentant. True Christianity hinges on repentance. The pastor on Larry King Live eventually made this point later on in the broadcast, but the rhetorical damage had already been done.

If we are to reframe this discussion along biblical lines, then we must emphasize the necessity of repentance for the Christian faith. The point is not that the pastor and the Knapp are both sinners. It’s that the pastor agrees with God about his sin, while Knapp remains in her sin without repentance. That is why he is questioning her Christianity, for Christian teaching makes clear the necessity of repentance as the entryway into the Christian family.

Ultimately, the debate is not about homosexuality versus other sins. It’s about whether or not repentance is integral to the Christian life.

I think I want to clarify more by saying Christianity hinges on knowing Jesus as both saviour AND Lord. And its in considering Jesus as Lord that repentance needs to be discussed. None the less, it’s a very interesting read. Read the whole thing here.

Calvin on repentance

My love/hate relationship with Calvin continues. Here’s some more of the stuff I love –

Accordingly, we must strive toward repentance itself, devote ourselves to it throughout life, and pursue it to the very end if we would abide in Christ. For he came to call sinners, but it was to repentance [cf. Matt 9.13]. He was sent to bless the unworthy, but in order that every one may turn from his wickedness [Acts 3:26; cf. ch 5:31]. Scripture is full of such testimonies. For this reason, when God offers forgiveness of sins, he usually requires repentance of us in turn, implying that his mercy ought to be a cause for men to repent.

*  *  *  *  *

Therefore, I think he has profited greatly who has learned to be very much displeased with himself, not so as to stick fast in this mire and progress no farther, but rather to hasten to God and yearn for him in order that, having been grafted into the life and death of Christ, he may give attention to continual repentance. Truly, they who are held by a real loathing of sin cannot do otherwise. For no one ever hates sin unless he has previously been seized with a love of righteousness.

There’s no such thing as luck…

I had an unexpected conversation today about (among other things) the role of confession for a Christian.

We were reflecting on our state of mind when we are confessing to God, and I think all too often confession becomes the Christian version of ‘good works’ to earn salvation. What I mean is how often do we slip into thinking sin takes us away from God and that confession brings us back and makes us pleasing to God.

BUT the reality is that our confession is not pleasing to God. Jesus is pleasing to God. And we are in him and therefore in grace. The reality in a life lived in grace is that because of Jesus our sin doesn’t cut us off from God, and neither does our confession bring us closer to God. Jesus calls us not to confession but to repentance, not just once as we ask Jesus to be our king for the first time, but continually throughout our life. We should never be satisfied in who we are, but constantly recognising our sin, and not just confessing it but turning from it and to Him.

In our conversation we reflect on ourselves pre and post becoming Christians, both of us remembering that we were different people back then! But we both realised that we should long to be better everyday.

I might be a Christian now, and a very different women, but I am still riddled with sin. Romans 7:17 – 25 gives the perfect description of me –

So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.