In a feature article by Washington Blade Online, Ray Boltz was interviewed about his change in life. He was a married contemporary Christian musician living in Indiana and famous for his ballad Thank You. That song was a sentimental look at heaven in which the singer gives thanks to those who helped him get to heaven. Now Boltz is a divorced man living a semi-anonymous gay lifestyle in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
Several things struck me as I read the article. My first observation relates to geography. Ft. Lauderdale and most of South Florida is a much different cultural milieu than middle-America Indiana. Several years ago, I remember somebody in South Florida commented to me about the cultural mix in our area. It is an ethnic and cultural mix unlike most of America. This person said that the one thing that united most South Floridians is that they have arrived in the area to escape something. Most people here are not natives. Suzie, my wife, is one of the exceptions. This person noted that people come from the north (in particular New England and Canada) to escape the cold weather. Cubans and other Latins have come to escape communism, poverty and lack of opportunity in their native lands. Others have arrived to escape cultural and family values. One could probably go on and on with this analysis. So Boltz came to Ft. Lauderdale because he could be almost completely anonymous in Ft. Lauderdale…I didn’t have to be who I was in the past. I didn’t have to fit somebody else’s viewpoint of what they thought I was. I could just be myself.
My other observation has to do with Boltz’s internal sexual struggles and his feelings. I can relate to the part of the article in which Boltz relates praying and struggling for a long time with the inner battle between his urges and what Christianity taught him. This is a battle that all Christians have. Some battle sexual desires that are out of line with a Christian lifestyle. Others battle in other areas. Often we relent by giving into evil desires and sin against God. We are then called to repentance. Our question is one of determining who is correct. Are my feelings, urges and/or thoughts correct? Or is God and his teachings from the Bible and through the church correct? Boltz has concluded the former.
I was struck by the number of times in the article that the word and idea for Boltz’s feelings was used. Boltz indicates that he doesn’t want to be a poster boy for gay Christianity. I’m just an artist and I’m just going to sing about what I feel and write about what I feel and see where it goes.
The final statement by Boltz is This is what it really comes down to. 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. This statement indicates an lack of understanding that while we are created in the image of God, that image has been corrupted by our sin. Self love and acceptance may make us feel better, but really isn’t an appropriate measure of closeness to God.