The last few days I can't stop listening to the new Passion album, "Here For You". It's amazing! But this morning I started thinking about the last album, "Awakening", remembering that Steve Fee was part of that conference and project. My heart broke last year when I found out that Steve confessed to having an affair. This led to his stepping down from leadership at North Point (in Atlanta), being removed from conferences and youth camps everywhere, and seemingly falling off the proverbial radar. And for the record, I support anyone who has fallen in the area of purity and breaking their marriage covenant being removed from leadership. Sin has to be taken seriously! (But so does restoration.) I also for some strange reason began thinking about another significant event in the life of "Christian music" last year. Long-time CCM star Jennifer Knapp had literally disappeared. She went from touring with Third Day and others to "No one knows where Jennifer Knapp went!" Until 2010 went she suddenly reappeared, only to shock the world - or at least the Christian world - with the headlining news, "I'm gay. And I've been living with my lover in Australia." [And this is where the disconnect enters the picture.]
What I find very confusing and disturbing about these 2 scenarios is that Steve Fee confessed sin, was removed from leadership - status revoked - and (I can only hope and pray) helped onto a path of spiritual restoration. Jennifer Knapp, on the other hand, confessed sin - only it wasn't confessed as "sin", but as a "lifestyle choice" - was reinserted into the public, and thereafter affirmed and encouraged by many artists who profess Christianity, "Way to go Jennifer! You're so brave and courageous." Is there not a gross misunderstanding of scripture, admonition, and sin in this scenario? Was anyone saying, "Way to go, Steve!"?
These are symptoms of a much bigger issue. The issue is that war is being waged on our souls to contort scripture so we can conform to sin. It's the antithesis of Romans 12:1-2. It's the proof of Romans 1:18-32. It's the evidence of 2 Timothy 4:3-4. Let me explain.
If I began having an affair and a friend of mine found out about it, hopefully he would sit down with me, lovingly and compassionately confront me, and boldly exhort me to "turn from my sin!" (I know a couple of my friends who would threaten my life!) But what if I listened to what he had to say, paused for a few moments of awkward and painful silence, only to let him in on the secret I've been carrying and hiding all these years now: "I was born an adulterer. That's right. I've spent years hiding it, trying to convince myself it's not true. But it actually took me getting married, having 2 children, and spending years in the ministry before I could come to grips with it. It's genetic. It's biological. I was born this way!" Anyone in their right mind, after holding back the laughter, shock, and disbelief, would look me in the face and explain to me, "No. You evidently were born an idiot!" Before you cave in to or push back from my absurdity, please understand: this is the same logic and self-gratifying ideal and worldview allows or causes a person struggling with homosexuality to say, "I was born this way."
In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, the Apostle Paul tells us that "...those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers - none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God." (Further affirmed in Gal. 5:19-21, Eph. 5:5, Rev. 22:15) Use the same lens with any of these other sins. Would someone have the audacity to say, "Sorry man, I was born a drunk!" Or "This is just the way I was born - a greedy, swindling prostitute." No! You aren't BORN a drunk, an abuser, an adulterer, a liar, an idol worshiper, or a homosexual. You were born a SINNER! I came into this world depraved. ["Rooted is the seed of death in life's first breath."] "When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned." (Romans 5:12) A person can argue all they want that the particular sin they wrestle with was given to them at birth like a gift. This is self-centered and unbiblical. It's an unfounded lie. It's the Enemy's way of persuading us to contort the truth so we can conform to sin. I had to confess to my church family this past Sunday that before I began walking with Christ I struggled severely with lust. It was constantly defeating! But as a Christ-follower, I have gained more and more victory over this in the past 20 years than I can begin to explain. I wasn't born a professional agent of lust: I was born a sinner. Thankfully at age 19, I stopped buying the lie!
The GOOD news is that when I choose to follow Christ - the GREAT High Priest who "...offered Himself to God as one sacrifice for sins, good for all time" - He makes me "a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." On our own, we have no capacity, ability, or desire to overcome or walk away from sin. But when we come to know Jesus Christ - when the Spirit of the One, True, Living God inhabits our lives - we CAN overcome! 1 John 3:6 tells us that "No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him." This doesn't mean that when I begin to follow Christ that I'm done sinning. Hardly! But it does mean that I become more and more aware of my sin and my heart becomes more and more grieved over it and I confess and repent of it more and more, coming back to the path of holiness and righteousness that Christ died so that I could walk. "Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil." (1 John 3:7-8, italics mine)
I believe that many people are apprehensive and afraid of calling sin what it is because we are recovering from decades of the "church" losing sight of biblical and compassionate confrontation. Somewhere along the line, for some reason - fear, hypocrisy, self-righteousness, bad theology - Christians became angry. Righteous indignation is one thing. Venomous hate and condemnation is another! [And if you want to use Christ as your example, remember the only time He got seriously angry it had to do with corruption, greed, and money.] Christ loved. He loved the woman who was drug to Him by the Pharisees. He told them, "Whoever of you is without sin, you can be the first to stone (judge) her." And yes, they all crawled away with their tails between their legs. But do NOT forget the words of exhortation and love that Christ spoke to her as she began to walk away: "Go; and from now on...sin no more."
I love Jennifer Knapp. And I love Steve Fee. But I believe they have both been deceived into believing - at some point - that sin was (and is) something other than sin. We are warned that this temptation will come. It's been here from the beginning! "...they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator..." As Christ-followers, we are to live in constant victory over sin. Victory that we have to claim, embrace, and take hold of. Paul exhorts us in Romans 6:13, "Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness." There are people close to me - people that I love dearly - who are struggling with the sin of homosexuality. There are also people I love who wrestle with lying, cheating, jealousy, bitterness, and pride. Man, do I wrestle with pride! But I'm praying that we understand we have to keep wrestling! We are called to overcome! We are set free to "abide in Christ" and "go and sin no more". The question is, will we see sin for what it truly is: SIN. Will we realize that while we were born in sin, we are REBORN to overcome it? Or will we contort, distort, and ignore scripture so we can continue to conform to sin?
1 John 1:5-9, 3:4-10
Romans 1:18-32, 6:1-23
1 Corinthians 6:9-20
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
2 Peter 2:4-10