Evangelicals and the Gay Closet: Is Ray Boltz Still a Christian?

ray boltz

Most Evangelicals believe that once a person is saved, he is always saved; that nothing can separate him from the love of God (Romans 8:31-39). This belief, of course, causes a real problem for Evangelicals when they hear about people who were once Evangelicals and lived according to Evangelical interpretations of the Bible, but no longer do so. I was a once-saved-always-saved Evangelical pastor for twenty- five years. My lifestyle was one of devotion to Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit was evident in my life (Galatians 5:22,23). No one, at the time, doubted I was a Christian. Today, I am an apostate; a false prophet; an atheist. My deconversion poses a real problem for Evangelicals. If I were truly saved, I am still saved. If I can’t fall from God’s grace, I still have it. No matter what I say or do, if Evangelicals are right, I am still a born-again Christian. Out of the will of God? Sure. Backslidden? Sure. Awaiting God’s chastisement? Sure. But, I’m still a Christian, nonetheless.

Of course, such thinking is unpalatable for many Evangelicals. They can’t bear to think that a blasphemer such as I am is still a Christian. They can’t stomach the thought of me being an atheist, yet still getting a mansion — albeit a much smaller one — in Heaven after I die. For these people, the answer to their queasiness is to say that I never was a Christian; that I was wolf in sheep’s clothing; that I was a Satanic angel of light. This line of thinking is ludicrous for the simple fact that everything I said and did from the age of fifteen to the age of fifty said to the world that I was an out and proud follower of Jesus Christ. And I was indeed. As a person who knew me quite well years ago said, “If Bruce wasn’t a Christian, nobody was!”

While queuing up some music to listen to today as I write, I came across several songs by Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) artist Ray Boltz. You might remember some of his signature songs: The Anchor Holds, Thank You, I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb.

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As a pastor, I found Boltz’s song, Thank You, quite helpful when I was doubting whether the work I was doing was making a difference. Boltz’s song reminded me that I would have to wait until I got to Heaven to see the fruit of my labor.

In 2005, Boltz retired from the Christian music industry and later divorced his wife. In 2008, Boltz came out of the closet and admitted he was gay. What follows is an interview Boltz gave about being gay and still being a Christian. Please take the time to listen to this video. Boltz is honest and open about his life, and is actually quite compassionate towards people who attack him for being gay.

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Boltz’s “testimony” poses a big problem for Evangelicals. Here’s a man who was loved, respected, and revered by Evangelicals, yet now he says he is gay. “How can this be?” Evangelicals wonder. “All those wonderful songs he wrote, yet he had “gay lust” in his heart the whole time! Stop! My head is hurting!” Evangelicals are forced to say either Boltz was never a Christian, or that he still is a Christian. Remember, most Evangelicals believe homosexuality to be a sign of a reprobate heart; that there is no such thing as a “gay” Christian; that there will be NO LGBTQ people in Heaven. This means, necessarily, that Boltz was NEVER a Christian — an absurd notion if there ever was one.

A 2018 Thought Co article titled, Christian Singer Ray Boltz Comes Out, Says He Lives a Normal Gay Life, details how many (most) Evangelicals view Boltz’s coming out:

Reactions from fans regarding Ray Boltz and this news has run the gamut of emotions. Some are heartbroken and feel like Boltz needs to pray harder and he will be cured of his homosexuality. Boltz did say in the article that he had been praying for change almost all of his life. “I basically lived an ‘ex-gay’ life—I read every book, I read all the scriptures they use, I did everything to try and change.”

Other fans view him as almost a victim of the devil’s lies, of society’s “everything’s good” attitude, of his own sin. Some fans look up to his decision to go public so that people can see that gay people can love and serve the Lord.

There are some that feel that his “giving in to the temptation of sin” and “succumbing to the homosexual lie” wipes out every shred of value that his music ever had in the world and that he should be “shunned from the body of Christ until he repents and changes his ways because he can not receive forgiveness until he actually repents from the sin.”

Boltz believes he is still a Christian, albeit one far from his Evangelical roots. He currently lives with his partner and attends a gay-affirming church in Florida.

Were you a Ray Boltz fan? Were you still a Christian when you heard about him saying he was gay? What was your response? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Note

Read Boltz’s New York Times interview about his post-Evangelical life.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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29 Comments

  1. ObstacleChick

    I feel for him and for others like him who are shunned and judged and mistreated by the very church they loved. I used to fight with my mom about homosexuality – I was able to convince her that one cannot help to whom one is attracted, but I couldn’t get her past the idea that gay people should be able to have sexual relationships. The whole “no sex outside marriage” concept prevailed, and she passed away soon after same sex marriage was legalized nationally. It became a topic she refused to discuss with me anymore. I guess I pressed too hard on the idea of what kind of a God would create people to be gay and then forbid them from having sanctioned romantically loving relationships.

    Reply
    1. john gaither

      Sometimes it’s difficult to realize that feelings, and wants that we fell so strong about can be totally wrong! Sin at times can only be realized for what it is by it’s final results.

      A fallen mankind presumes that God made people shaped in sin, He didn’t , but being remade by Sin’s active measures to remake mankind into the Image of the Chief fallen Angel(Lucifer).The homosexual lifestyle can only bring death in it’s final conclusion, it can never breed life. Therefore it is parasitical because only persons of the natural male/female union can produce children.

      Otherworldly the Homosexual lifestyle have to steal naturally produce persons to have an relationship because their union cannot sustain their concept by themselves. Mr. Boltz is a Christian if the Savior called him, because he belongs to the list of Saints written in the Book of Life. He, like all of us must serve our Master while carrying our own personal Cross of Sin, and Yes Saints can live a of life of great sin.

      He will answer to the Savior for his faults as we have to do, whether sinner or saint.

      Reply
      1. J W

        John Gaither, the simpler, more reasonable explanation is that homophobia has nothing to do with God, but rather just the simple ignorance and prejudices of the ostensibly religious.

        You use words like “parasitical” or “naturally”, but seem to possess little actual knowledge of the natural world or the study of biology. Are you not aware that homosexuality has been observed countless times among other animals? By people who actually take the time and effort to study the natural world? That homosexuality is in fact entirely “natural”, despite attempts by people like you to abuse that word?

        Are you completely ignorant of the vast variety of different sexual and reproductive schemes used by plants and animals in nature? Have you not come across concepts such as hermaphroditism, gynandromorphism, asexual reproduction, or the like? Would your mind be completely blown by knowledge of such things? Or the fact that human beings are sometimes born possessing some of these characteristics as well? (For example, see: intersex)

        You speak of sin and God, but let me ask you this: why would I take the word on matters of God of someone who is completely ignorant of the natural world? Or worse, who is aware of such things and chooses to lie about it? Would that not lead one down the wrong path, assuming there even is such a thing as a valid path?

        Ignorance is not a virtue. Nor is taking the words–written or spoken–of human beings on blind faith alone. You can and are encouraged to investigate and double-check anything that I have written, too. Unless, of course, you’re the type who indulges in the sin of fearing the “worldly.”

        Reply
  2. Dave O

    While earning my Bachelors degree at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana (circa 1982 – 1986), I attended the same church Ray Boltz attended. I remember him singing the song “Thank You” for the congregation before it became a hit.

    He was an honest Christian, eager to serve the Lord with his music. My few interactions with him were positive and affirming and he encouraged me to seek the God of Truth.

    I cherished his music and his song “Seasons Change” is still my favorite ‘life song’.

    What surprised me when I learned Ray had come out of the closet was how he was instantly vilified by the very people who once looked up to him. I read so many blog posts that cast him and his music into the pit of hell because he was ‘now’ gay.

    What amazed me is that Ray Boltz did not wake up one morning and decide to become gay. All that music he wrote which become mainstream worship music was written and recorded while he was struggling over the fact he was gay and yet still drawn by God to serve Him when the church declared that that it is impossible to be gay and a Christian at the same time.

    After he came out, I came to understand that we as Evangelic Christians are some of the most unloving and judgmental people.

    I felt for him and defended him. Not because I knew him while at college but because we are Christians, who have the very nature of the God who is absolute love in our hearts, should extend to him love and support and not demonize him who we once worshiped beside.

    Do I still believe he is a Christian? Yes. He exhibits his desire to serve the Lord, even after all his ‘brothers and sisters’ proclaimed him apostate.

    Reply
    1. John Arthur

      Thank you for the compassion and kindness of your remarks about Ray Boltz and that you see him as a still being a genuine Christian.

      When my wife and I were attending an Evangelical church (several years ago now. I am now an atheist.), a young man in his thirties who was a very keen Christian came out. He received utter rejection from most of the members of the church. He committed suicide. I believe that the rejection by the so-called holy joes of the church once he came out drove him to end his life.

      I didn’t expect the church members to support same-sex marriage but I did hope that they would try to understand his position and show compassion and kindness towards the young man. He was no different a person after he “came out” than he was for the several years before he came out and for the long time that the church members knew him before he declared his same-sex orientation..

      Reply
  3. Tyler H

    I was a freshman in High School when I heard he was gay. I was a christian, and listened to nothing but christian music for years, sang in the choir at church, was really going places spiritually according to my church family at the time, and I believed it. I loved listening to Ray’s music, it really touched me. Especially “Thank You.” I cried many tears listening to that song. Little did Ray or anyone know, was that I was struggling with homosexuality in my own life. Hearing Ray’s story deeply touched me and solidified my decision to live my own authentic life. I decided that Love was the true message of God and that, even though I self identified as Christian, that I would no longer pretend to believe what most other christians believed. No longer would I be silent about who I am. Now, ten years later, even though I don’t consider myself christian (I identify as agnostic) I still believe that loving people no matter their beliefs, affiliations, sexual orientation or overall identity is the only “religion” worth following. I am completely out about my sexuality and partly because of Ray Boltz, I am completely happy. He is an inspiration to me.

    Reply
  4. Jen

    I remember over the years my Evangelical friends and family absolutely vilifying any Christian entertainer who divorced or slipped up in any way, but coming at as gay was the worst sin of all. It fell into the Ephesians 5:12 category (“too shameful to even speak about”).

    That interview touched me. I’m so happy for Boltz and for those he inspires.

    Reply
  5. Luke Steenkamp

    1 John 2:19 King James Version (KJV)

    19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

    Here is your answer Mr Bruce Gerencser…Truth and time go hand in hand…given time the truth will come out!

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      *sigh*

      Memo to Luke: maybe they didn’t continue because they didn’t want to associate any longer with arrogant, self-righteous, Bible verse barfing assholes. Look in the mirror and you will see one of the many reasons people deconvert.

      Reply
      1. Hugh D. Young

        SUPERBLY SAID!

        Reply
      2. Jim Barnhart

        I have discovered in life and in my walk with God that when challenged, the demon of the true root of sin within will come out. Your reply to Luke, Mr Gerencser, is a perfect example of that….Thanks for the confirmation of my belief….

        Reply
        1. Hugh D. Young

          I discovered that the vast majority of X-Chee-Ans were little demons in disguise. Puffed up with pride, ego ,and self righteousness, they sure war ship their Maggot Lord well on Sunday mornings, but are real insolent sons of bitches the rest of the week. It’s really a shame that so many of us have seen thru the SHAM innit, Jimbergh? Thanks for continuing to serve as a superb reminder of why I got the fuck out of Dojjj!

          Reply
        2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Jim,

          You sent me the following in an email: “For your sake, Mr Gerencser, I really hope there is no hell.”

          You don’t really believe this. Hell justifies everything you believe, say, and do. It’s Hell that will one day prove to the Bruce Gerencsers of the world that Jim Barnhart was right and they were wrong. Without Hell, Evangelical churches would empty out tomorrow. Sorry, Jim, but you need Hell.

          The good news is that there is no Hell after death, nor is there Heaven. It is in this life alone we have Heaven and Hell. One of my goals as a writer is to encourage people to make this life as Heavenly as possible. How about you, Jim? Or are you with Luke, going from website to website preaching at former Christians, thinking you could possibly say anything we haven’t heard countless times before?

          I wish you well.

          Bruce

          Reply
  6. c.plancon

    Friends, I am a 57 yr old “Christian” raised strongly Methodist in the deep south (so really raised with godly, not worldly intent) however I have learned after 4 wives (gasp) 5 children (gasp) and a dozen grand children, that I know nothing of Gods plan and if I did I am not strong enough to follow him of my own accord. I have many questions for Mr. Boltz, none derogatory, insensitive, or disrespectful, mine are questions of faith….of how this man, this human being, who “had it all, was at the top of his game” had the courage within and without to make that truly life changing revelation to his family, wife and world, knowing certainly that the “shame, mocking, and non-literal death” of his fame, fortune, career, would forever be altered and that, if one takes many christian ( but not christ like beliefs) points of view his soul be damned forever, what a human being, what a truly forgiven person it takes to amend all his former life by remembering…”We walk by faith, not by sight.” Mr. Boltz, if you happen upon this lowly testimony would you be kind enough to lend me your ear sir ? As for some other writers of comments, ” Who so ever among you is without sin cast the first stone” hmmmm?

    Reply
  7. Brittany Green

    Mr. Gerencser,

    You asked Mr. Steemkamp what he thought, by,,”What are your thoughts?”. Also, being a part of a Christian is a follower of Christ, not our own opinions. He wasn’t even giving you his own opinions, but a tenet of the apostles, who were with Jesus himself, and went by what he said. As you may know, Scripture is the authority of a believer, and our thoughts would be what the Bible states.

    Usually, most atheists blame science for their deconversions. But, you say that it’s those who speak about God’s word? Well, there is truth to that. Matthew 13:20-21 states as much, and that is given by Jesus himself. John 8:31-32 says as much, too: in short, there is a difference between professing and true believers. Sure, eternal life is eternal: if you are a real believer. But, if not, well, 1 John 2:19 explains it.

    On another note: why should it matter to you? I mean, you stated that the Bible is just a scores of myths? What does it matter what an Evangelical thinks of you? If you consider Christianity to be such a constraint to quote Psalm 2, why worry about what you claim is nothing more than some mythological battering ram? Why care about what they think about your eternal fate? If your about to kick the bucket and croak in about 10 or 20 years on average, and be nothing more or less than just ecological material (dust) from rigor mortis, and there is nothing afterwards, why care? It’s not like any of these things have any form of existential value in your belief system: if nothing else is there, we are just pontificating time, especially if it’s just a superstition? If these are just myths, why even care to treat homosexuals morally? Ethically? I mean, if I believe in Classic Darwinian evolution, they are defective individuals that need to be exterminated, because they can’t naturally reproduce. But, even the strong survive ethic becomes null and void. Nihilism automatically gives way to atheism: for, if there is no lawgiver, there are no laws. But, laws do not come out of a vaccuum….so? Could there be a merit to what the Christian states? Is that why you are so anxious for their opinion?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      *sigh*

      You are wrong about my reasons for divorcing Jesus. Please take the time to read the posts on the WHY? page if you really want to know why I deconverted. https://brucegerencser.net/why/ No need for you to continue on in ignorance.

      You comment shows that you know very little about atheism. Most atheists I know are also humanists, and it is humanism that gives them a moral and ethical framework to live by.

      After 12 years of mindless drivel and bullshit from Evangelical zealots such as you, I am not, in the least, “anxious” for the opinions of Christians. It’s been years since I have heard a unique, original, or new argument from a Christian. All I hear is the droning of a ceiling fan on a hot, humid July day. That’s why Evangelicals are given one opportunity to say whatever “God” has laid upon their hearts; one opportunity to put in a good word for the man, myth , and legend Jesus; one opportunity to back their Bible dump truck up to my door and dump a load of shit. You’ve had your opportunity, Brittany. I hope you said everything the Lord laid upon your precious little heart.

      Thank you for commenting.

      Bruce

      Reply
    2. Hugh D. Young

      You know the #1 reason for MY deconversion? A ‘god’ who quite clearly showed me over an almost 8 year period that he quite obviously loved his AUTHORITY & RULES far more than he did PEOPLE. I wouldn’t obey, nor worship that fucking MONSTER if science proved he existed tomorrow!

      Anything else you’d like to share with the group since you’re obviously so smart, and seem to know it all…..or so you seem to think, anyway??

      Reply
  8. Sam Stratton

    Check out scientists like Francis Collins and Biologos.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      First, what does your comment have to do with this post?

      Second, you assume I have never “checked out” Francis Collins or Biologos. All these examples show is that smart people can and do believe/act irrationally. The majority of scientists do not believe in God. Why? Because that’s where the evidence leads. Francis Collins is a fine gentleman. I even like him. However, his attempt to wed Christianity with science fails miserably. I would argue that science and Christianity are incompatible — especially Evangelical Christianity. There’s no possible way to reconcile Evangelical faith and science without a hell of a lot of cognitive dissonance.

      If you have not done so, please read Jerry Coyne’s books: Why Evolution is True and Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible.

      Thank you for commenting.

      Bruce

      Reply
  9. Sam S

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to assume anything. Its just something I discovered recently that has made me rethink my own beliefs. I was an atheist for a long time, now I’m not so sure. I’ve always been a big fan of Ray, it is aggravating that he has been judged like he has.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      We certainly agree on Ray (and numerous other LGBTQ Christians).

      Have a good week.

      Bruce

      Reply
  10. Ab

    Bruce, God loves you so much. You can’t even begin to imagine how much He loves you. Yh, I know it must have been very hard for you in your years as a Pastor. But I wish to challenge you Bruce. Since you have made your decision, there should be no stone left unturned so no matter what, you know the decision you have made is right and you don’t even have to defend yourself.
    I wish for you to put away all those customs and beliefs from church. And just take about 12 days and I want you to just try to read the bible and talk to this ‘God’ Believer’s believe in. Not because you believe in Him but you just want to leave no stone unturned. So just read the bible and talk to Him, and ask Him that if indeed He is real, He should reveal Himself unto you.
    Just do this for 12 days, and if nothing happens then you can boldly say that the God of believer’s is a fiction and be a proud atheist.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      *sigh*

      Reply
    2. Hugh D. Young

      RIGHT…….Because ‘god’ loves us soooooooooo much, he created an eternal hell to send us to, just in case we decide we don’t love him back…..GOTCHA!! 🙂

      Reply
    3. Zoe

      Ab, get in line behind all the other people who have come along and challenged Bruce.

      Reply
  11. Bevy

    Since you admit to being an atheist and unbeliever why do you bother? Jesus is the Word of God and if one doesn’t base their life on His Words – then one is not a believer… hence why bother bc we are all at an impasse!

    Reply
    1. John Arthur

      Is Jesus the Word of God? This is the claim of the anonymous author of the Gospel according to John which was written about 70 years after Jesus’ death. If the Word of God is God, then Yes. We should base our lives on Jesus. But if Jesus is not God, why bother?

      If God is omniscient than why does the anonymous Gospel according to Matthew, probably written about 50 years after Jesus’ death, say that he didn’t know the day nor the hour when he would come again. Only the father knew! So the author of this Gospel does not think that Jesus was omniscient. The unknown author of the Gospel according to Luke (probably written in the 80s of the first century CE) says that Jesus grew in wisdom and knowledge. So he wasn’t omniscient.

      Although Jesus was possibly a historical person (although mythicists do not believe that he actually existed), he was fully human. Do human beings walk on water? Do human beings walk through walls? Can any human being feed over 4000 or 5000 human being from a few fish and loaves of bread? Can any human being levitate into the sky against the laws of physics? Aren’t these stories more likely to be myths that grew up around the story of Jesus? Didn’t the early church change him from an ordinary human being into a god to be worshipped?

      How can a virgin give birth? Isn’t it more likely that someone got Mary pregnant? This legend is found only in two gospels written in the 80s. Read books written by biblical scholar Bart Ehrman .

      Reply
      1. Luke

        John Arthur you raise a good point.

        (Matt. 24:36), “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”
        I agree with Matt Slick who had this to say…..

        This statement is found in the gospel of Mark and Matt. 24:36. The answer is simple. Jesus is both God and man (John 1:1, 14; 20:28; Col. 2:9), and during His ministry in Jerusalem, He was cooperating with the limitations of being a man. As a man, Jesus walked and talked. As God He was worshipped (Matt. 14:33; 28:9; Heb. 1:6), prayed to (Zech. 13:9; 1 Cor. 1:2), etc. This is called the Hypostatic Union.
        During His earthly ministry He moved in the power of the Holy Spirit and did His miracles by the Holy Spirit and not by His own divine power. This is because He was made for a little while lower than the angels (Heb. 2:9) and had emptied Himself and taken on the form of a man (Phil. 2:7). This would explain why in Matt. 12:22-32, when the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of the devil, Jesus said that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would never be forgiven? Why? Because Jesus, as a man who was ministering completely as a man under the Law (Gal. 4:4-5), did His miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. This demonstrates that Christ was completely human and dependent upon God and that He was cooperating with the limitations of being human. That is why He said He didn’t know the day or hour of His return.

        However, we see that after the resurrection of Christ that it is said of Him that He knows all things (John 21:17) and that He is omnipresent (Matt. 28:20). Therefore, after His resurrection and glorification, the Lord Jesus did know all things.

        So i’d say yeah… we should base our lives on Christ!

        Reply
    2. Zoe

      Why do you bother to read and comment Bevy?

      Who is at an impasse? You?

      Bruce is sharing his story, his journey both as a Christian and later as an atheist. Many people can relate to his story, learn from it and gain understanding.

      Reply

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