It’s a weird feeling when it happens. I don’t expect it will happen to me much here in the country in the Bible belt, but back in my city lawyer life it happened sometimes. I’d be having lunch with some friends or colleagues and somehow the subject of personal faith or religion would come up. Then it would just get awkwardly quiet. And I knew why, of course. It was because I was a Christian and that made folks uncomfortable. Maybe they didn’t want to say anything to offend me. More likely they were afraid I’d launch into a sermon and try to drag them off and baptize them.
For those who have had this experience, or anything like it, something Jennifer Knapp said at the Wild Goose Festival may resonate with you, as it did with me.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Jennifer Knapp is a singer/songwriter who hit the bigtime as a contemporary Christian artist. She won two Dove awards and got a Grammy nomination. She was a Christian music rock star.
Then she dropped out of sight for a few years. Among other things, she had to come to grips with her lesbian indentity, and what that meant for her as an artist and a believer.
She’s back now, with a great new album. But she’s out of the mainstream of the Christian entertainment industry.
At the festival she talked about the weird situations she finds herself in because of her sexual orientation. She said that sometimes she’ll be in a room of people and everyone will go quiet when something comes up about her sexuality. Folks will start to drift out of the room.
But here’s the part of what she said that resonated with me. She said that doesn’t bother her so much, because as a Christian she’s gotten used to it. She said that long before she revealed that she is a lesbian, rooms went quiet and folks walked away when the subject of her Christian faith came up. Having experienced that because of her Christianity prepared her for experiencing it because of her sexual orientation.
The way she described it made it real for me. I’ve been there too.
Interestingly, Jennifer grew up in an irreligious home. Her parents aren’t believers. She said that even today her folks have far more trouble understanding her Christian faith than understanding her sexuality.
Jennifer Knapp’s journey must be full of challenges and trials. I wish her strength and am grateful for what she’s doing to help bring healing and understanding.
And I’m especially grateful that with a few sentences she brought home to me something very important.