Ray Boltz is gay

17 09 2008

Ray Boltz is a christian musician who I grew up listening to.  If you have ever heard the song “Thank You” or “Watch the Lamb” or “Shephard Boy” or “I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb” then you know who I am talking about.  (I sing “Shephard Boy” to my kids all the time.)

Well, I just read this article that tells the story of Boltz coming out as a gay christian.

Wow.  Part of me is shocked.  Part of me isn’t at all surprised.

It seems like lately I have been finding many areas where christianity and homosexuality collide.  First, the leadership of my church denomination distributed a pamphlet to its pastors on the subject which I thought was very loving and accepting in its tone toward gay people.  Then, a few weeks later, the same leadership followed up to those same pastors with an email that I felt was much more dismissive and politically biased.  I found these two communications to be an intriguing dichotomy of almost opposing view-points.  On another occasion, I read about a gay couple who were asked to leave from a homeless meal program at a local church because they were gay.  This theme has come up in my conversations with people on an almost weekly basis.

And, now this about Ray Boltz.

Will the words in this song be heard differently now?  Should they?

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Volunteer application: Are you gay? Check YES or NO

13 06 2008

Gay volunteersI read this article yesterday that really rubbed me the wrong way.  The article is found in a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender news site, so I realize it is not necessarily an unbiased account.  But, still, I am frustrated by what I read.

If you don’t have time to read the article, let me boil it down for you: A couple of guys showed up to volunteer at a free hotmeal program at a neighborhood church.  They felt this was a good way to give back to a ministry that had once provided them a free meal when they themselves were in need.  They were there just long enough to unload a truck of food before abruptly being questioned about whether or not they were gay.  When they acknowledged their homosexuality, they were immediately asked to leave.

What’s up with that?  Is that really the right message the church wants to send?

Let’s all stop and think for just a second.

The church should be trying to minister to those in their community who are in need.  The church is supposed to be a place where all types of people can come together in love and service to God.  In short, the church is supposed to be an outpouring of God’s love to the people in its community.  So, how exactly are the actions that this church took in line with that purpose?

It’s not like these guys showed up wanting to preach a sermon or teach a Sunday School class.  It’s not like they were enlisting to sing in the choir on Sunday.  No, these guys were simply looking for a place to give back to the community they are a part of.

Someone please pinch me and tell me there is more to the story than what is written here.  Were they doing something that warranted the internal investigation that the meal director felt obligated to conduct?  Was it something they did?  Was it something they said?  Surely, they were kissing in front of children or talking dirty to homeless men in the food line.  It’s got to be something like that, right?  Something that makes them ineligible for volunteer service to the hungry. 

It’s got to be something more than the simple fact that these guys are gay.

Maybe the church needs to add a section in their volunteer application form.  Are you gay?  Check YES or NO.  Oh wait, they don’t have a volunteer application form.  That’s because, up until now, there were no specific eligibility requirements to volunteer at the free hotmeal program.

I really think this church needs a giant do-over.  If they could just stop and think for one second about the real message they want to send before taking action, I am confident they could have handled this better.

Here’s an idea.  How about loving and ministering to these guys?  What a golden opportunity to love and care for some guys who would probably not have ever entered through the front doors of their church for any other reason.  How about reaching out to them, befriending them, and partnering with them to make a difference in their lives and in the lives of people that surround them?  How about working to build a little trust in these guys so that they feel at ease enough to invite their friends to come with them the next time?  How about using this situation as a launching pad to start reaching out to other homosexuals in the community?

But no, a golden opportunity is missed.  Missed because of fear and because of arrogant righteousness.  And, even given a chance at a do-over, I am not convinced that things would be handled any differently.

Maybe the leaders at this church need to go back and re-read the letter to pastors put out by the Nazarene Board of General Superintendents (I blogged about it here).

I think the guys’ quotes tell me all I need to hear:

“I said, ‘I don’t know how this has anything to do with feeding the homeless or people in need,'” Erichsen says.

“They just outed us and came right out and said we were not wanted there,” Footh says. “This was one of the ugliest things like this to ever happen to us. They made us feel like we are not good enough to help other people because of our sexual orientation, and to me that is totally wrong.”

So, anybody, like me, think this church just lost its only chance to have any positive impact on these guys’ lives?  Anybody, like me, wonder if their own church would act in the exact same way?

And, we wonder why people think the church is full of hypocrites.  To change its perception, the church is going to have to change its ways.  This was a missed opportunity to get started.





Homosexuals in Heaven

24 05 2008

General SuperintendantsHere’s a somewhat controversial question.  Will there be homosexuals in heaven?  I think many christians will be surprised when they get there to find the answer is yes.

I was interested to read in a blog that I have started following called Emergent Nazarenes about a new letter to pastors put out by the General Superintendants in the Church of the Nazarene on the topic of Homosexuality.  I read the post and then went on to read the entire pamphlet for myself.  I have to say I am pleasantly surprised at some of what I read.

You can read the pamphlet yourself here, but some of the quotes are as follows:

“The Bible does not homosexual orientation. What the Bible does talk about are homosexual acts.  We need to be clear about this, and to not say more than the Bible says.  One of the problems in the destructive debates that are taking place is lack of clarity on this very point.”

“What we do know from walking with people in a fallen world is that homosexuality is real, it tends to begin early, and it is rarely a choice.”

“Sexual orientation is not usually a willful choice.  (Can the heterosexual point to a time they chose their sexual orientation?)”

“Americans tend to be greedy as an influence of our consumer society.  We didn’t wake up one morning and decide to be greedy.  We were born into a greedy world and this sticky sin stuck to us.  …homosexuality is a sin because it reflects the fallenness of our world.  Like greed, it is something we are called to respond to by grace according to the character of God.  The person who is homosexually oriented does not need a church that condemns their orientation, but rather a church that calls for a response that is in keeping with the character of God.”

Our refusing to come alongside in the complexity of the journey too often results in two wrong responses.  The first is to naively believe that homosexuality is a simple matter to be fixed by one serious trip to the altar…The second wrong response is to simply cave in to the belief that homosexuality is irreversible, homosexual behavior is natural, ‘just who I am’, and therefore we offer no help at all”.

“The reoriented or celibate single homosexual will be invited to full participation in the life and ministry of the church, leading ministries, serving on boards, and singing in choirs.”

This is just a sampling of the contents of the letter, but I thought it showed the general theme.  I was pretty happy with the tone of the letter.  I think a lot of Christians might be surprised to hear some of what was said.  I know I was.  I was happy to hear them acknowledge that homosexuality is most-likely not a choice.  I don’t believe I have ever heard that inside the walls of a Nazarene church before.  I was glad to read that they make a distinction between homosexual orientation (most likely not a choice) and homosexual behavior (a choice).  And, I think the comparison to greed (in this country especially) is very valid.  It creates an equality for a behavior that carries with it a huge stigma with a behavior that has become extremely commonplace in many christians’ lives.  Finally, I appreciate the statement that homosexuals should be included completely in all areas of ministry in the church.  Not only should they be let in the doors, but they should be allowed, perhaps even expected, to participate in all areas of ministry.

I am pretty happy with the stance the general superintendants in the Church of the Nazarene took with this issue.  So, what do you think?  Will there will be homosexuals in heaven?