Many of you will remember that in 2008 Christian pop music star Ray Boltz came out as a gay man. That was two years ago, but today’s New York Times has a profile of Boltz’s new album that was released in April.
Now, after more than five years of self-imposed absence from stage and CD, Mr. Boltz has reached a musical and religious destination. As an openly gay man, living in a gay-friendly part of South Florida with his partner, Franco Sperduti, he has released his first album since coming out.
It is called “True,” and its songs talk about same-sex marriage (“Don’t Tell Me Who to Love”), bias crimes (“Swimming Hole”), and conservative claims that there is a political “agenda” for gay men and lesbians (“Following Her Dreams”).
Most indelibly, several of the songs aim to reconcile the gay identity Mr. Boltz has acknowledged with the Christian faith he refuses to disavow. In “Who Would Jesus Love,” the lyrics ask,
Would He only love the ones
Who looked the same as me
Would He only offer hope
When He saw similarity
Would He leave the others waiting
Like a stranger at the gate
Would He discriminate.
You can read the rest here.
I hate to say this, but since you asked, Ray – yes, He will discriminate, according to I Corinthians 6:9.
He loves you just as surely as He loves any of us. But unrepented sin is that which leads to death.
I concur. Unrepented sin certainly leads to death.
I think the issue that makes it difficult to bring true understanding to the liberal stance is the fact that we ALL have unrepented sin in our lives. Gluttony, gossip, unforgiveness, etc., are prevalent in most Christian lives to at least a minor degree. And thus, the liberal left paints us Christians as hypocrites because we are guilty of sin even while we stand up and proclaim that sin is wrong.
Whether or not Christians are, in fact, hypocritical is irrelevant. Sin is sin. Homosexuality is sin. And, ultimately, unrepented sin leads to death.
Thanks, Derek. We proclaim this truth because of our love for Ray Boltz, not because of our disdain. It’s not too late for the blood of Christ to wash Ray Boltz as white as snow – once again.
All real Christians recognize that homosexuality is always a sin without any exception whatsoever 100% of the time. It’s not discrimination–it’s called “reading”. Ray Boltz should look into it.
Joe, all real Christians recognize homosexuality as a sin? I’m a straight Christian who believes it’s not a sin — how does that belief negate what Christ did for me on the cross? How does my belief on ONE issue mean that I’m unsaved? I thought the Bible said that in order to be saved, I must repent of my sin and believe in Christ. I’ve done that — so how come I’m not a “real Christian” anymore, just because I believe differently than you on one topic?
IMO, if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.
If the only thing that you do regarding the known and unknown gay people in your circles is point them to a Bible verse or two, then I think youâ€™ve missed the mark yourself. Robotically reciting Bible verses does not create a healthy environment for nurture and growth.
Ray struggled for 50 years. With what did he struggle? He probably struggled with parts of himself that didnâ€™t align with the Bible. I dare say he also struggled with the negative attitudes and actions of his family, friends, church and larger Christian community. These are the people that should be available to actually help. Iâ€™m willing to bet that a younger Ray would have come to a different conclusion had he found a group that would help him instead of only condemn him.
Christians canâ€™t make some be holy, but they can certainly keep someone from it.
You said, “I think the issue that makes it difficult to bring true understanding to the liberal stance is the fact that we ALL have unrepented sin in our lives. Gluttony, gossip, unforgiveness, etc., are prevalent in most Christian lives to at least a minor degree. And thus, the liberal left paints us Christians as hypocrites because we are guilty of sin even while we stand up and proclaim that sin is wrong.”
The Christian hypocrisy issue is not that we are guilty of sin while proclaiming that it is wrong–it’s that while you claim that we all have unrepentant sin, you agree with Derek’s implication that it is Ray Boltz’s homosexuality that condemns him while our own gluttony, gossip, unforgiveness, etc. are considered forgivable even as we are unrepentant. Where is the outrage over Christians who have hate in their lives? Where is the Christian support for legislation to combat obesity? We are woefully inconsistent with our pet issues, and that is why is it hard for liberals to find consistency in what we preach.
The key here is just how do you define “help” (re your comment “These are the people that should be available to actually help.”). We’ve all seen or known people who aren’t able to get out of a sin pattern or addiction because other people were enabling the person’s behavior to continue. When a fellow believer falls into a trap of sin, there is a responsibility on the part of the body of Christ, which is outlined in I Corinthians 5. We are not demonstrating love if we say, “that’s great, brother or sister – do what you want!”. Especially not when we have a situation like we have with Boltz, who walked away from a covenant he made with his wife (they also have kids). This wouldn’t be acceptable if he was heterosexual and decided that the woman he married wasn’t his “soul mate” and what Boltz did isn’t acceptable either.
The Bible does not provide us with a comprehensive list of prohibited behaviors. The NT doesnâ€™t have anything to say about incest, for instance. Nor gambling. That doesnâ€™t legitimize either behavior. In most cases, the Bible points us to the standard of holiness rather than the deeds of unrighteousness. With regard to sexuality, it is clear from Scripture that sex is limited to husbands and wives. Now, that said, the fact that homosexuality is condemned in multiple locations in both the OT and NT should tell us something, i.e. you’re playing with fire if you disregard these repeated warnings.
There is an Old Testament concept called “high handed sin”, which is basically defined as deliberate disobedience (see Numbers 15:30). A similar warning is found in Isaiah 5:20:
I John 4:16-18 reaffirms these OT principles. No one who claims to be a Christian openly defies Scripture.
Now if we have a situation where a glutton says, “I don’t care what the Bible says about gluttony, I’m just going to do what I’m going to do”, then yes, we have a major problem. We have a responsibility to point this out and make it clear that this is unacceptable. If a person defends their greed or lying or any other sin, that is a high handed sin, i.e. one of open defiance. So we do need to distinguish between situations where a person is caught in a sinful pattern and those where the person demonstrates no sign of repentance or contrition. That is exactly what I John 4 is driving at.
Derek, never once did I say anything about accepting Rayâ€™s decision. Not once.
Also, I see open defiant sin within the church: from selfish motives, they create a community that nurtures only their own lives (family) versus including everyone (families AND singles). There are many excluded from the culture within church on many bases (marital status / sports-mindedness / gender role idolatry / etc.) that can make involvement for some in the church community toxic. Repent! And maybe some of those conflicted about their sexuality and other single people will have a community to help them walk uprightly rather than scavenge in the world because theyâ€™ve been excluded by the church for perverse reasons.
There is probably not a Christian out there who could or should not demonstrate more love and understanding, particularly to those closest to us. That said, I think it might be a bit presumptuous and judgmental (to his family and church) to assume that Ray didn’t have Christians around him, ready to love him and pray for him and encourage him, SSA or not.
Do people in the church hurt one another with our words and actions? Absolutely. But I’m doubtful that he was completely surrounded by uncaring, unloving Christians.
If there was such an availability of people around him, why wait 50 years? Why contemplate suicide? Obviously, Ray was unconvinced that he could trust those around him. I am also unconvinced that I can trust those around me. No one sees this tragedy; they would rather recite Bible verses and build a life that is comfortable for themselves, excluding the very ones they are condemning. Is that the answer that Christians brag about? You see I have lived it myself and I can easily give you scores of examples of people that have had the exact same experiences with the church. Something is wrong. Admit it. Do your part to fix it. Or would you rather argue about it?
Based on my personal experience, the reason I shun accountability is not because I think those men around me will be harsh, itâ€™s because I love my sin. I donâ€™t want to give up that idol. Itâ€™s not that the men in my lives simply spout bible verses at me but their correction of sin is always rooted in bible. They do love on me and that means that they do correct me. As Paul points out, my reading of scripture should reproof, correct, teaching and training in righteousness. The problem is that correction is painful. When weâ€™re faced with that pain, we do one of a few things. Basically, we either accept the correction or we construct our lives so that we can do as we wish. For me, that meant that there were times when I just said Iâ€™m not going to meet with those guys. And man was I justified in my own mind (those guys donâ€™t know what Iâ€™m going through. They donâ€™t get my situation.). But it didnâ€™t help. It just delayed addressing my sin.
I donâ€™t know Ray personally. I canâ€™t say that his approach to sin is the same as mine. After meeting with several men and walking for a while, my guess is that we arenâ€™t far off from one another. I donâ€™t struggle with the same sin, but I struggle with sin. I think something that most here note is that I donâ€™t cease struggling with sin by calling it OK.
Nathan, I understand where you’re coming from. We can’t remind each other too often that the Church is supposed to be a place where we can take off the mask and share what’s really going on. We also need to lose the self-righteousness, wherever it exists, because it is toxic.
If we can’t find that safe place to be real, it’s probably time to find a church that is. Having said that, it always takes one bold person to step forward and confess loneliness or discouragement or sin. I’ve seen God honor this step of faith many, many times, in my own life and in others.
I am in agreement with Elsa’s comment. I don’t think that a proper reading of scripture leads to the automatic assumption that committed homosexual relationships are sinful. And I think more and more Christians are coming to the same conclusion and that is going to radically change the standard response that the Church has always given with regard to this subject. Twenty years from now the Church is going to look back on those who use scripture to condemn committed homosexual relationships and see them much as we see those who 30-40 years ago used scripture to support racist views.
Look at where the departure from following Jesus Christ has done to our culture. How much time do I need to spend describing human anatomy before you find out that our design necessitates the duality of the sexes? If we believe that God created with a purpose then we believe that includes the two sexes. Very simply, he commanded Adam and Eve to procreate, this can only be accomplished in one way. Fundamentally, it is our sin which causes us to reject such notions. “I want what I want, and I don’t care what God says about it. He has to accept me for who I am.” When did the Bible ever say that? Don’t you dare attempt to hold God hostage with your lust. Jesus said, “for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife.” Finally, it is also incredibly important to realize that all sin is a violation of God’s creative purpose and all sin demands punishment. Either you attempt to earn God’s favor or trust in Christ who bore punishment on your behalf. Homosexuality is no different. However, 1 John and James etc. are very clear regarding lifestyle. Boltz is living a lifestyle which denies the Word of God and brings shame to Jesus Christ, hence, he is walking in darkness and therefore, can have no confident expectation concerning eternal matters of forgiveness.
There’s no question that God created male and female in order to populate the earth. This is true for animals and humans and even certain plants. But there is still no way to deny the ever growing research that reveals that about 10% of the animal kingdom is homosexually oriented. It’s just a fact. It doesn’t have anything to do with a choice (any more than having green eyes or red hair is a choice). If we say that heterosexuality is only valid because of the offspring produced, then how do we reconcile couples who marry but who aren’t able to have children? Is their union somehow less valid (or valid at all??)?
Biblical writers had absolutely no concept of sexual orientation. They only understood sexual activity as a personal choice. This is reflected in scripture and we shouldn’t be surprised at that. But, we have to read the scripture with the discernment of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, we can’t honestly approach much of scripture as 21st century Christians. Yes, God clearly says in Leviticus that a man should not have sex with a man. God also says, clearly, that Hebrews can purchase other human beings as property and then leave them, as property, to their survivors when they die.
I also said that “unrepented sin leads to death.” So, while I see your point, I don’t think I was inconsistent in my assessment (although I do consider your analysis very insightful, to say the least).
I consider all sin to be forgivable, so long as repentance (turning away from sin) follows confession (which, in the context of 1 John 1:9, is the act of coming into agreement with God about the sinful nature of our activities). Ray Boltz, along with the rest of humanity, errs if when failing to view homosexuality as sin. That, Lindsey, is part of the real issue here.
From your side, however, I agree that Christians are woefully inconsistent when it comes to pet issues. It is difficult for liberals to take Christians seriously about homosexuality when so many Christians are guilty of gossip and gluttony, but do nothing about those areas of sin.
Also, Lindsey, when you said that I implied that gluttony and gossip were forgivable while homosexuality was not, I think perhaps you read too much into my statement to Derek. Unrepentant Christians – whatever the sin may be – have as much to fear as Ray Boltz.
It’s one thing to be unaware of sin, but it’s another thing to be aware of it and continuing to engage in it without battling against the fleshly compulsions to sin.