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Kent Bush: ‘Clobber verse evangelism’ unproductive

Kent Bush

Life is full of balancing acts.

No one would ever claim to be perfect. But everyone thinks they are a little bit better than other people.

Somehow the problems we have just happen to be peccadilloes and the major moral messes tend to be caused by the sin in someone else's life.

Compartmentalization and rationalization are some of the best tools for self-justification.

In the religious realm, it seems the there is a tendency to rank sin so that people can both feel better about themselves and more effectively judge others.

That often leads to a negative feeling about religion - and thus, God.

One of the groups that catches the most grief is homosexuals.

Maybe no one knows that better than Jennifer Knapp.

The 36-year-old former Christian recording artist and Kansas native who recently announced that she is a homosexual said, "I'm not capable of getting into the theological argument as to whether or not we should or shouldn't allow homosexuals within our church."

Of course we should allow homosexuals in the church. Everyone who has failed to live a perfect life needs to find a church that helps them find a detour from the path they are on back onto the path to faith.

If you're an alcoholic, you need to be in church. If you are a liar, you need to be in church. If you put anything in your life above your relationship and reverence for God, you need to be in church.

Church is like a hospital for sinners. And we're all sinners. The Bible is clear on that, too.

Knapp recently announced that she considers herself a gay person of faith.

That's a difficult position. The Bible teaches pretty clearly about the morality of homosexuality. Both the old and new testaments list several condemning references to the practice. It is also clear about sex outside of marriage and lust issues being sin.

Knapp used the argument of Levitical law and its occasionally confounding rules to justify her own choices.

She said, "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."

Clobber verses is an interesting phrase. I get what she means.

Some people like to pick parts of the Bible they like and run around clobbering people with them.

"Homosexuality is an abomination," they cry out only moments after committing a less obvious sin of their own.

Sometimes a little perspective and context can remove the venom from your vitriol.

But in the same sense that "clobber verse evangelism" is unproductive and wrong, selective theology espousing a "Christian theory of relativity" is equally misguided.

To say the Bible only refers to homosexuality a few times or that the references are mostly in the Old Testament is confusing to me.

How many times does it have to be in the Bible to count?

No one should sit in judgment of others. But I don't think the fact that God shows love, mercy and grace to his creation is a good reason to continue living in a manner that does not line up with biblical teachings.

Jesus ate with tax collectors and defended women caught in adultery. But he didn't tell them to continue doing what they were doing. He always told people to "go forth and sin no more."

It is obvious that Knapp is struggling with this. She is also struggling not to struggle with it.

She was a popular Christian recording artist. However, her relationship with a same-sex partner and the beginning of her sabbatical from performing were probably not entirely coincidental.

She is still not going to church anywhere, but she has started recording again. However, her recent release is targeted to a secular market.

I wish Knapp the best and I hope she can find her way back to the life where her closeness to God allowed her to pen uplifting lyrics.

I also hope the religious community can encourage her in that pursuit without condemning her. I don't know many people who should be first in line to cast the first stone.

Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.