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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4 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
  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
  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

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