Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ray Boltz Comes Out of the Closet

I was stunned to learn the other day that award-winning Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) singer Ray Boltz has publicly "come out of the closet" and acknowledged that he has divorced his wife, moved to south Florida and is now living in a gay lifestyle. Boltz, perhaps most well-known for the song "Thank You", was a popular figure in CCM circles in the 80's and 90's and performed in churches and concert halls throughout the country.

Boltz's admission stirs up all sorts of feelings for those that have been fans and his supported his music. Though not an ardent fan, I am well aware of his career and the revered place that some of his songs hold within the Christian community. So how are Christians to respond when something like this happens?

J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine, offers some great suggestions on how to deal with these types of revelations. Grady, from whom I learned about this story, also shares the following insight:
"Ray Boltz’s disappointing decision represents a national trend. Many people today are embracing homosexuality as an appealing alternative. They are listening to teachers, psychiatrists, talk-show hosts, Hollywood celebrities, sympathetic family members and even some mainline Christian ministers who say sexual orientation is totally genetic—and unchangeable.
These people have bought the lie that says a person who feels same-sex attraction must always be controlled by those desires. Not true! Jesus paid the ultimate price so that we can have freedom from every kind of sinful behavior.
We don’t have the right to compromise God’s Word, no matter how many people decide to come out of the closet. But let’s remember that the message we are called to proclaim to the world is not “Homosexuality is wrong.” That’s a true statement, but it has no power to change anybody.
The gospel we must shout from the housetops is that Jesus loves all of us, no matter our condition, and that His forgiveness can heal our brokenness. I pray Ray Boltz will soon discover that truth in a fresh way—and I hope he’ll write many more songs about it."

I can't help but feel compassion for Ray Boltz and the inner turmoil and struggles he must have felt for all these years. Knowing the response that many conservative Christians offer to those struggling with same-sex attractions, Boltz must have never felt there was a safe place for him to share his struggles and get some help. But the answer is not to divorce his wife and begin living a gay lifestyle. Boltz chose the Washington Blade, a gay magazine, to reveal the new direction in his life. His comments are telling:
“This is what it really comes down to,” he says. “If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be … I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.”
It is sad that he hated himself for all those years, but living outside of God's will not ultimately bring a more fulfilling life for him. When anyone (gay or straight) gives up the struggle for holiness and decides to just do what feels good or right, the hope for growing spiritual maturity is left by the wayside. Jesus still possesses the power of our death and sin and I trust that one day Ray Boltz will come to that realization.


Anonymous said...

I'm saddened by your formulaic response to Ray Boltz's struggle & decision. It's one that I am still working through as a charismatic, gifts-flowing christian who just does not have the wiring for a hetero relationship. Comments and assumptions that "all they need to do" are some of the very same reasons that others bury themselves deep for life, or live double lives, or take their own life because they, -we-cannot possibly live up to the standard that one widespread interpretation has assigned. Ray is still a christian, expresses how he is closer to God and yet you try to confine him in the very prison that he's been set free from. Personally, I've prayed for my own destruction for many years for not being able to be like you; accepted, hetero, mainline churchgoer. Is it fair to well intentioned spouses who fall in love with someone who cannot fully reciprocate? Is that really "love"? Western christianity is so heavy on the law and adherence & conformity to church culture that it probably would not be recognized by Christ in this current day. Did you know that there were same-sex unions performed in the first few hundred years of the early church? before Jews, women and "others" were subjugated to the conformity of politics & culture & intentional interpretation of the Words of God? Ray Boltz is accused of "living -the- lifestyle"...and whatever imagination that that entails is in the mind of the holier than thou judges that con-damn him (and others). God is so much bigger than gender. If the church was as hard on divorce, which is spoken of specifically, it'd reduce the numbers of contributing believers and be very unpopular. If all sin is separation from God in one form or another, then why isn't all sin pursued as eagerly and equally by the Chosen? I'm tired and frustrated that I have held fast, fallen, held fast again, been through deliverances, prayed deliverance for others for other things and seen their healing & freedom and yet this one thing that I desire to be undone in me to the point of praying for my own unmaking is one that brings tears and fear upon waking and exhaustion until my head tries to rest at night.. the conclusion of it is that the prison or "closet" is one of human design, not God's. Ever meet a gay christian? We exist. We've seen and worked through the entanglements to find God for ourselves, painfully, sincerely working out our salvation to find that it was mistaken man's interpretation of a loving holy God that tried to keep us from His love. I spent almost a year at an open church; not just "for gays" kicked out of elsewhere but a place for everyone who didn't fit in elsewhere. Do you know what I found? Space to breathe..freedom of heart to really worship unencumbered by differences..really welcomed, and not being afraid of being rejected by people who despite being earnest have confined God and some of his own people into a box that cannot be truly lived in. I've discovered that God has welcomed me to a glimpse & consideration that he is SO much Bigger than what centuries of man's interpretation has set in stone of his own handiwork.
Personally, I'm staying celibate until God brings someone into my life and blesses it. I'm not "living the lifestyle" that many limitedly informed churchgoers assume. I've "outed" myself in prayerlines and have had that detail gossiped in church, but have also felt God's acceptance when Man's has failed. If all these cultural sources are finally voicing the same message, perhaps it may take a step of faith from those such as yourself to meet "the sheep from another flock" that are just as much His own as yourself and find that the same Spirit of the same Creator/Father God is at work in all of us. We would welcome you.

Anonymous said...

I first and foremost reveal I am of no religious denomination or order. With that being said I ask; why cant homosexuals respect that they are not Christians and should never be? Is happiness or acceptance the goal for the homosexual community? The definition of happiness is open to opinion but it can be a lifestyle; acceptance can also be a piece of that puzzle called happiness but why is acceptance such a big deal to a un-straight person( is that soft enough?)? Homosexuality is an extreme "alternative" to the majority of nature's examples, skip the semantics, which makes the cry for "acceptance" sound like a plea for attention; an EXTREME PLEA for ATTENTION. The old way of life is a ritual of mankind which mirrors his surroundings, homosexuality is a ritual in itself. An individual doesnt cry for acceptance, for an individual will is strength, rather an individual struggles to gain acceptance amongst his peers. The weak cry out for acceptance and if the cry for empathy isnt heard
they turn to guilt and shame; as if the world is to blame for their condition. Examples of this are the Jews wih the holocaust and african americans with slavery, which are all examples of the weak gaining strength deceiving the strong: the two groups I just mentioned do not reflect the whole of their people but just the "schemers". If you are an individual then stand up for your rights, but to generalize your cause in the security of the MOB is to label yourself precisely as a dissenter of the HUMAN ritual known as life and nothing but a traitor to the ambassadors of good will -f0n3nyc THE SKYZ FALLEN-