If I could speak with Gospel artist Ray Boltz, I’d say “thank you, for giving Christians an opportunity to approach homosexuality a better way.” Boltz, winner of three Dove Awards, formerly married man of 33 years with four children, retired from singing a few years ago—and last week announced he was gay. Many Christians have weighed in on Boltz’s announcement - expressing “shock” that he has same-sex attractions—as if some temptations never visit Believers. They are “surprised” that a gifted gospel artist could experience homosexual attractions. I believe that Boltz’s songwriting abilities were born out of his struggle against same-sex attractions. (Notice the proper preposition is “against” not “with”; sin is inevitable when we begin to struggle “with” a temptation.) People have all kinds of attractions and temptations—and most are lurid. Merville Vincent writes, “In God's view I suspect we are all sexual deviants. I doubt if there is anyone who has not had a lustful thought that deviated from God's perfect idea of sexuality.” Preacher E. Stanley Jones prayed, “O God, our Father, I thank Thee for this fire of sex within me. Let it burn within me as a sacred fire upon Thine altar, lighting up my entire being. For if it is not this, it will be a fire to consume my mind, my tissues, my bones, my possibilities, me. Then help me this day to dedicate this sacred fire to Thee. Amen.” Jones recognized that sexual desire, if confessed to God, became a sacred fire for living a holy life. I have heard it said that Haddon Robinson once prefaced a sermon by looking out over the congregation and saying “If you knew what thoughts go through my mind, you wouldn’t listen to a word I say.” What humble honesty! John Piper writes, “The human heart is a ceaseless factory of sensual desires.” Sobering words from a preacher. One of Boltz’s peers - Twila Paris wrote “The warrior is a child”- a song revealing that it’s the battles of life that drive us into God’s presence – that is, if we are obedient. The usual pro-homosexual argument is that the Bible only condemns homosexual rape or promiscuity – committed gay relationships are sanctioned. This belief is the basis of the Metropolitan Community Church – to which Boltz refers on his website. But to claim the Bible approves homosexuality is equivalent to claiming that Tolstoy’s War and Peace is a musical comedy. I prefer not to make light of Boltz’s battle. Disclosing one’s same-sex attractions is a death knell compared to disclosing any other form of temptation – a sentiment echoed by Dr Albert Mohler in his recent radio program. And Boltz knew that when he wrote “…I believed that if people knew who I really was, I would never be accepted.” While Boltz here refers to his acceptance of homosexuality, we might ask “how would we have responded if he had shared his struggle with us years ago?” Do our comments on homosexuality provide an “open door” to share deep hurts and struggles? Unfortunately, no! An author relates that when a young man confessed his homosexual feelings with a pastor, he was told “we don’t want faggots here.” A Bible student disclosed his same-sex attractions to a vice president at the Bible college he attended - thinking he could get help. The student, who had not behaved homosexually, was ejected from the school. On a return visit to ask the VP for a referral to a counselor, the VP stood on the opposite side of his office refusing to even shake the hurting student’s hand – much less offer a healthy hug. A mother of a gay son asks why she should reveal her pain to her church staff when she repeatedly hears their jokes about homosexuals. Hundreds of men and women have told me they could never turn to their pastor for help since “all he can say is ‘homosexuals will burn in hell.’” (Even now some bloggers, who identity themselves as Christian, are recommending “hell” for Boltz.) One pastor titled his comments “Away with Ray.” When an honorable man eventually disclosed his past struggle with his Christian employer-believing he had developed a genuine rapport with him - the employer fired him. I told a pastor about the need to be extraordinarily sensitive to those with same-sex attractions- as they are deeply wounded. He immediately said - verbatim “That’s one of the reasons I prefer to minister to drug addicts; I tell them they’re stupid and they agree with me.” Of note, this pastor is a former trustee of the world’s largest missions agency. Ray, thank you for giving us yet another opportunity to express compassion, not condemnation; empathy, not apathy. We believe homosexuality is sin; we also believe in freedom from homosexuality through Christ- at least we say we do. What do I mean? Many bloggers are quoting the 1 Corinthians 6 passage— “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (vs. 9-10) But conspicuously absent from their quote is verse eleven—the pinnacle of the biblical passage. “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Maybe that’s why the Christian Church has not done a good job of leading homosexuals to Christ; we fail to tell them “the rest of the story.” Boltz did not choose to be attracted to the same-sex. One of life’s mysteries is that we don’t get to choose what we are tempted by. But we do choose how we respond to those temptations. Ray, like most people, bought into the idea that if could only learn an acceptable sexual practice, his same-sex feelings would go away. This idea is called “converting to heterosexuality” or “gay to straight” and the concepts are as unbiblical as they come. (Many of you just thought I said being homosexual is OK; I said no such thing.) If I say “Christians should not convert alcoholics to sobriety”, do you take that to mean I am advocating alcoholism? No, we believe in conversion to Jesus Christ- who then transforms us into His image—a lifelong process. This writer left homosexuality several decades ago. Do I have same-sex attractions still? My answer is an unqualified “YES.” A gay man wrote me “Tim, you’re the most honest ex-gay I have ever known.” Some will argue, “then you’ve not changed!” My friend, homosexuality is not something a person changes from; it’s something a person repents of! How do I deal with same-sex attractions? “I die daily.” (1 Cor 15:31) And friends, if you haven’t died today, you haven’t lived! Ray, I’m praying for you (not against) and hoping others do too.
Tim Wilkins is founder/director of Cross Ministry. He and his wife have been married 15 years and have three daughters. They live near Raleigh, NC