Hopscotch-ing across blogs, I came across a post by Damian Caruana at Castle of Nutshells where I learned that conservative Evanglical singer Ray Boltz is gay. I have to say that I was shocked to read it. Listening to his music back in the late 80s and early 90s (during the heyday of my love for Christian music), it would appear to be a 180 for him. Having myself somewhat left the culture that produces that kind of music, perhaps not surprisingly, I like the guy a lot more. Of course this may still be surprising, given that I still lean toward the ‘conservative side’ on homosexuality (even if ambivalently).
Ray Boltz‘s songs were a staple of my playlists in high school (14-18 years old). His song ‘Thank You’, about telling his Sunday School teacher in heaven thank you for bringing him to Christ, was what introduced me to him, and I can still remember a group of us sitting and crying together as we listened to it at beach retreat. I really connected with his song called ‘Shepherd Boy‘, the story of David and how God will see more in us than others. At university, I came into contact with Christians outside of my narrow view of the faith. There I didn’t question my faith wholesale (though it felt it at the time), but questioned the faith as I had been given it.
One of the moments where I found myself realising that my understanding of the faith had changed was when I went home for Christmas one year and the college Sunday school teacher showed Ray Boltz’s video of ‘I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb‘. I doubt Mr. Boltz will ever find his way to my blog, but if you do, please forgive me when I say, This is the worse video I had ever seen. It tells the story of a boy talking to his dad awaiting his execution for being a Christian. Exactly why these people hated Christians is not explained. No understanding of Christianity being a counter-culture movement that threatens the status quo. Just the general evangelical slant, ‘the world hates us because we are right’. Watching that video, I knew something was different in me. Having worked with Rev. Tom Wall at the Wesley Foundation at USC, I was beginning to appreciate the part of my faith long neglected – the social justice side. I have to say I could not listen to Ray Boltz anymore, and judgmentally cast him aside (the reason why I say I like him more now). The songs he sang that I loved a few years ago now sounded more like the political dribble coming out of singers like Carmen (where Christians are threatened with having their ‘rights’ taken away – like prayer in school).
In an article about his coming out, Boltz said that he began questioning what he learned in his faith. Thankfully, he hasn’t left the Christian faith (I long ago threw away the belief that no Christian can be gay), but is journeying on his new way. I am glad to hear it, and I hope Mr. Boltz could forgive me for my earlier too-harsh estimate of him. Now, he will have to endure much harsher criticism. A quick search will lead to blogs and forums where such language as ‘disgusting trash’ is being used. Hardly what I would call Christian. Blessings for the coming month, Ray, (it will be a tough time) and thank you. ‘Shepherd Boy’ really spoke to me in a time where I felt alone and not worth much.