A. Jennifer Knapp is a Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) singer who has disclosed that she is living in a lesbian relationship (see Christianity Today, “Jennifer Knapp Comes Out“). The bottom line of Knapp’s announcement seems to contain the triple ideas that the only Scriptures against homosexuality are in the Old Testament, that there is a spirit that “overrides” the question of whether homosexuals should be allowed in the church, and that living a gay lifestyle and being a Christian are not at odds.
Concerning the first of these, Knapp has been quoted as saying, “The Bible has literally saved my life. I find myself between a rock and a hard place—between the conservative evangelical who uses what most people refer to as the ‘clobber verses’ to refer to this loving relationship as an abomination, while they’re eating shellfish and wearing clothes of five different fabrics, and various other Scriptures we could argue about.”
Not Just the Old Testament
Knapp’s references to eating shellfish and wearing clothes of different fabrics are references to laws of the Old Testament (see, for example, Leviticus 11:12 and 19:19). If it were true that the only biblical arguments against homosexuality are in the Old Testament (such as Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13), then her implied accusation of hypocrisy against those who use “clobber verses” against homosexuality might be valid. Old Testament laws do not apply to Christians, and Christians who try to use them in their arguments against homosexuality are only confusing the issue and showing their ignorance of the Bible they are supposed to be following.
But the truth is that the New Testament has much to say about homosexuality. In the context of answering the Pharisees’ question about divorce, Jesus Christ describes the God-ordained setting for a sexual relationship: “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:4-6). In these verses, Jesus Christ Himself tells us that God’s intent for a sexual relationship is between a male (Greek arsen) and a female (Greek thēlu) in a lasting relationship (i.e. marriage) that man was not to put asunder (in divorce).
In Ephesians 5, the apostle Paul, starting with nearly identical language, tells us that marriage is between a male and a female because it is an earthly picture of the relationship between Christ and the church: “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife [Greek gunaika—woman] see that she reverence her husband [Greek andra—man (as being male)]” (Ephesians 5:31-33). It is through the marital relationship between a man and a woman and its endurance through life that God wants us to understand the beautiful, eternal relationship between Christ and the church. Any other sexual relationship distorts this picture from which God wants us to learn.
In Revelation 19:7, we see this same picture: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” Revelation 21:2 and 9-10 show us this in an allegorical figure: “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride [Greek numphēn—a veiled woman, a bride] adorned for her husband [Greek andri—man (as being male)]…. And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.”
A sexual relationship that is not between a husband and his wife is a perversion of this picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. This is why homosexuality is correctly referred to as a perversion. We should not be surprised to learn, therefore, that the New Testament Scriptures specifically label homosexuality as an abomination. Well into the time of the New Covenant, the church age in which we are still living today, the apostle Paul wrote, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind” (1 Corinthians 6:9). The Greek word translated “fornicators” is pornoi. These are people who commit porneia, which refers to any sexual sin (sex outside marriage). (These words are related to our modern English word, “pornography.”) The word “adulterers” is from the Greek word moichoi. This word refers to a sexual relationship between two people, at least one of whom is married to someone else. “Effeminate” is translated from malakoi, which literally refers to a man who wears soft, feminine clothing. It also refers to a catamite.
The last Greek word in the list in verse 9 above is arsenokoitai. This is the word that is translated “abusers of themselves with mankind.” It means a male having sexual relations with a male. So, here we see a list of people who commit various sexual sins, with homosexuals (at least male homosexuals) specifically mentioned. The list continues in verse 10 with other types of sinners mentioned and concludes with the same point as in verse 9 that these people will not inherit the kingdom of God. This is clear New Testament evidence that practicing homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Now notice verse 11: “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” This pulls the rug out from under all who claim to be Christians while continuing to practice a homosexual lifestyle. The past tense in this verse is clear. Some of the people to whom Paul was writing were these things. But, now that they are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus by the Holy Spirit, they are no longer. If, after reading these verses, we say that a Christian can continue to practice homosexuality, we must also say that a Christian can continue to be a thief or an extortionist (verse 10). It is completely absurd!
Up to this point, Ms. Knapp might say that lesbianism is not specifically mentioned. But notice in Romans 1:18-32 toward whom the wrath of God is directed:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
(emphasis added to help with reference)
This, in fact, helps us to understand what is really behind what Knapp means when she says that there is a spirit that overrides “the theological argument as to whether or not we should or shouldn’t allow homosexuals within our church.” Knapp says, “There’s a spirit that overrides that for me, and (that is) what I’ve been gravitating to in Christ and why I became a Christian in the first place.” Plainly, Knapp is not gravitating to the Holy Spirit. Jennifer Knapp is a prime example of someone who has been deceived into believing her feelings override the clear teachings of the Word of God. The spirit she speaks of is the spirit of a reprobate mind in rebellion against God.
In the section I have given emphasis to above, we read of women changing “the natural use into that which is against nature.” This might seem unclear to modern readers until we read the context that immediately follows: “And likewise also the men…burned in their lust one toward another.” Without any doubt, this latter statement is a reference to male homosexuality, and it makes plain that the previous statement is about female homosexuality, or lesbianism. These things are called “vile affections” practiced by those who do not “like to retain God in their knowledge” and whom God has given over to a “reprobate mind.”
There are many other Scriptures in the New Testament that mention sexual impurity as a sin. But I want to specifically point out two of them. Revelation 21:8 speaks of “whoremongers” [pornois—people who practice sex outside of a marriage between a man and a woman] as having “their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Revelation 22:15 speaks of those who are left outside the city of God. Once again, these people include “whoremongers” [pornois].
The Bible unmistakably teaches that a homosexual lifestyle and Christianity are at odds. But it also teaches that there is cleansing and justification and sanctification to those who were homosexuals, just as there is for all sinners.
Copyright © 2010 Peter Ditzel. Permissions Statement.