An Interview with Jennifer Knapp Part 2: Church, Sexuality, and Progressive Christianity
Beliefnet continues chatting with Jennifer Knapp in the second part of this personal interview.
The Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists and Robin Lunn, it's a really intriguing paradigm to consider that -- one which I actually enjoy. People think all of a sudden that when you say the word "Baptist," they get a very distinct view of what they think they're going to get when they meet a Baptist. They're going to be homophobic… especially right now, in our current climate, you're going to get a lot of conversation about what God wants the country to look like, how He wants you to vote, how He wants you to spend your money as a Christian and, certainly, how He wants you to build a family and what that looks like, in terms of sexual orientation, which does not include any conversation of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) people. It's really fun for me to be able to go and have access to those kind of environments that really challenge that. Yet, at the same time, I think one of the things that I learned in response to that is, how important people's traditions are, in which they have come to approach their faith, and what language they use that helps them continue to be comfortable. Meaning -- the example I would have -- it spun my head off, the first time that I met people that were saying, "Yes. We're Southern Baptists and we're going to an open and affirming church." I'm like, "What? It's not possible." It's the same way that I felt that that section of faith might look at me and go, "It's not possible for you to be a Christian and gay." And it's not fair for me to look and say, "What? How can you be a Baptist, a Southern Baptist and open and affirming." So you kind of have to go. You have to meet people. You have to talk with them. You have to figure out the lay of the land.
Through all that, I am realizing that’s a very important thing, especially in terms of the LGBT issues and today. I think a lot of times, we encourage people to just move on. If there's a tradition that's not including you in your conversation, we think it's really easy to just move on. If the Southern Baptists don't like you, then get out and go somewhere else. But if you spent your whole life there and your family is there, and that's your tradition and that's your language and your culture, it's like saying if you're American, you don't like what's going on in the American political scene right now, “well then, get out and go to Korea. It doesn't work that simply. And to try and hard-wire someone's native language is -- or you rewire someone's native language, it's not necessarily helpful. It's not necessarily accurate to their growth process either. So I definitely learned through experiences like that to be in there has some sacred respect, the varying traditions, at which people approach their faith.