Ray Boltz and John Owen

For years, his name has been synonymous with great Christian music, with such songs as “Thank You,” “Watch the Lamb,” and “Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb.” In a shocking revelation yesterday, Christianity Today posted an article with the blaring headline, “Ray Boltz Comes Out.” This announcement is sure to rock the CCM world, fuel the fire for those who might oppose the CCM style of music, and create not a small stir among conservative evangelicals.

Which leads me to question what exactly should our reaction be? I am of the firm belief that the homosexual lifestyle is condemned as sin in the Scriptures. But that’s not the point of this post. How should the church react to someone who confesses a struggle with a “big-ticket” sin such as this (or any sin for that matter) or even that they no longer wish to fight against it but to accept it as “just the way God made me”? There will be many in the church who will want to burn his music, forbid ever singing “Thank You” at a missions conference, and thoroughly castigate Boltz for his sin.

I’m not entirely sure this is the most gracious way of handling Boltz’s tragic decision. I believe that it is decisions such as this throughout Christianity that may reflect a lack of compassion in our churches. I am deeply saddened by something Boltz is quoted as saying in the Christianity Today article. He states “I prayed hard and tried for 30-some years 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…. If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live.” I wonder if there was anyone in his church or circle of Christian friends that was willing to help him in his struggle. I wonder if he got the feeling that if he admitted to this struggle, he would be thrown out of the church.

John Owen in his excellent book The Mortification of Sin, stresses that the fight against sin, even one particular grieving sin, is ongoing and may indeed never stop until we’re dead! I think that often we may fight and fight against a sin until at last we give up because we’re under the impression that at some point we’re not supposed to struggle with it anymore. Owen writes, “Indwelling sin always abides whilst we are in the world; therefore it is always to be mortified.” Or perhaps one of the best, most succinct phrases from this book is “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.” This should help us in two areas. First and most obvious is that while we will always struggle with sin, God’s word promises the power to have continual victory over that sin. Fighting against sin is never easy, as Boltz eludes to in that he “prayed hard and tried for 30-some years.” But the second area in which this truth should help us is being able to reach out to others offering the same love, grace, prayer and encouragement we ourselves need in our struggles.

Things like this convict me of my own gracelessness and encourage me to reach out to those struggling in sin. I am so thankful to God for those he has placed in my life who have often listened to me pour out my struggles and have lovingly prayed with and for me without condemnation yet at the same time being willing to point out where I am wrong. Yes, I could say that God made me prone to pride, selfishness, impatience and lust. But the fact is that all of these things are still wrong, still sin and only the power of God can help me continually win the battle against these sins, for sins they are. And to continue the fight against these sins, I need the prayer and encouragement of others. I can’t help but wonder if Boltz had such Christians around him to provide this much needed support. May God help me to be the listening ear and praying heart for another Christian who may be in fervent battle with their own sin.

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3 Responses

  1. This is saddening. Boltz wasn’t a musician whose music I really liked, but I did respect it.

    What to do about his music after this? I don’t know. Granting, I won’t be particularly sad if missions conferences don’t play “Thank You” (it’s a good song with a good message, mind you, but in such circumstances it’s become a bit cliche).

    The problem will be, can his music be separated from his sexual lifestyle choices, especially now that he’s open and revelling in them? In other words, can his music be played at such events without it being taken as an endorsement of his choices?

    This may be hard, and I’m open to being corrected on this, but I think that until he does repent of this, his music needs to not be played at such things. For one thing, they don’t need to be seeming to support him in his choices. For the second, he shouldn’t be able to look at how his music is being played and see his sexual choices being accepted.

    We must love him but not accept what he is now doing.

  2. Sounds like we had similar thoughts on this. 🙂

  3. Hey, I’m so glad you recorded The Mortification of Sin by John Owen. I’ve been wanting to read it for a long time. I actually found it because John Piper referenced your librivox recording in a sermon. So thanks! And your voice is famous! Or something like that.

    http://www.desiringgod.org/conference-messages/make-war-the-pastor-and-his-people-in-the-battle-against-sin

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