The Christian blogosphere has been set abuzz since CCM veteran Ray Boltz made public his struggle with and eventual acceptance of his homosexual desires.
News of Boltz's gay lifestyle has been spreading far and wide after the pro-gay Washington Blade published an exclusive feature last Friday on the Gospel singer, who only four years ago revealed to his family "the darkness and struggle" he was going through.
In the recent interview, Boltz said he denied his sexuality ever since he was a kid, and when he became a Christian in the early 1970s, he "thought that was the way to deal with this."
"I prayed hard and tried for 30-some years," he recalled, "and then at the end, I was just going, 'I'm still gay. I know I am.' And I just got to the place where I couldn't take it anymore … when I was going through all this darkness, I thought, 'Just end this.'"
Boltz, now 55, is best known for the song "Thank You," which has become a staple of Christian funerals. During his nearly 20-year recording career, Boltz garnered a handful of RIAA Gold-certified albums, three Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association (GMA) and a string of 12 No. 1 hits on Christian radio. He is regarded as one of the better-known singer/songwriters in Contemporary Christian Music and is a household name among some Christian circles.
Despite his fruitful career and largely happy marriage, which ended recently after 33 years, Boltz said he was in a serious depression. The father of four had been in therapy for years, was on Prozac and other anti-depressants and had been, for a time, suicidal.
Then, on Dec. 26, 2004 – the same day that a massive tsunami rocked South Asia – Boltz finally unleashed to his family what had been bothering him for so many years.
"I just admitted what I was struggling with and what I was feeling," he told the Blade, noting that it was hard to say that was the moment he "came out."
"It's hard to go, 'This is the point where I accepted my sexuality and who I was,' but I came out to them and shared with them what I'd been going through," he said.
Since then, Boltz has divorced his wife, moved to Florida, and started dating. Today, he says he lives "a normal gay life."
In response to the Washington Blade feature, Christians from across the denominational spectrum have been adding their two cents.
"Boltz' addiction apparently is men," wrote Matt Friedeman, a professor at Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, Miss., in a column published Tuesday on OneNewsNow.
"So, God made him that way...why deny himself," Friedeman posed, arguing against Boltz's claim that God made him gay.
"Another man's addiction is alcohol (or in Boltz's terms — God made me this way ... this is how I will drink); but who among us would say, 'Good...drink then for His glory!' Or how about the addictions to pornography, to child molestation, to crack cocaine, to arson? 'Good...this is the way I'm going to live...God made me this way...when I get drunk I feel his pleasure?'"
J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine, meanwhile, admitted to "immediately … composing a biblical lecture in my head" after news of Boltz's confession broke out.
"I was upset that Boltz chose to stop fighting same-sex temptation after all those years of marriage. I was sorry to learn that he feels 'closer to God' since he embraced his suppressed gayness," Grady wrote Wednesday in a column.
"Most of all I was annoyed that his decision sends a distorted message to our culture that Christianity doesn't offer the power to overcome sin," he added.
"But as I asked the Lord to share His heart with me about Boltz's situation, I realized that our corporate response to this is as much about a right attitude as it is about right doctrines," Grady continued, followed by a call to believers to weep, love homosexuals, and contend for the faith.
"We don't have the right to compromise God's Word, no matter how many people decide to come out of the closet. But let's remember that the message we are called to proclaim to the world is not 'Homosexuality is wrong.' That's a true statement, but it has no power to change anybody," he wrote in his conclusion.
"The gospel we must shout from the housetops is that Jesus loves all of us, no matter our condition, and that His forgiveness can heal our brokenness. I pray Ray Boltz will soon discover that truth in a fresh way – and I hope he'll write many more songs about it."
According to Boltz, the songs "I Will Choose to Love" and "God Knows I Tried," two of the most recent he's written, capture where he is now.