Thursday, September 18, 2008

An open letter to the family of Ray Boltz

Recently I received a comment on one of my posts about Ray Boltz. It said it was from a family member of Boltz. It was very kind and it asked that I not publish the comment but gave me permission to use it if I wished. Since my comments are moderated I decided not to publish. Instead I am writing that person (and others in their family) this letter in hopes that they return to my blog and see it.

To the family of Ray Boltz,

As a child and young adult I had many of Ray’s CDs. They brought me comfort and joy in some very dark hours of my life. I even saw Ray in concert once and remember how joyous I felt in that auditorium. He truly touched my life through his music.

I am a gay man and at the age of twenty, while living in Washington DC, the path that was my life split in two. Down one road I could continue to hide who I was, ashamed and alone, so as not to upset my family, most of whom were (and are) evangelical Christians. Down the other road I could pursue truth, and live honestly and openly just as God had created me to be, and accept the consequences that such honesty would bring. The decision was not easy, and in fact in many ways my coming out was not even my own doing.

I know the shock and even pain that my decision caused many in my family. My mother had to deal with not only a gay son but also with the knowledge that her ex-husband, my father, was gay as well. I cannot even begin to imagine what a woman with her beliefs, albeit misguided, went through. The grieving process was probably too much to bear at times.

When I asked my little brother, then just a boy, how my being gay made him feel he responded with tears in his eyes “It makes me love you less”.

He has since grown out of that childlike mentality. Now that little boy is a sophomore at NYU and has no issues with the fact that he has a gay brother.

But even today, over eleven years later, the relationship with my mother is strained due to my being gay. I harbor so much resentment and anger at her for holding on to beliefs that have been repudiated by some of the world's most learned Biblical scholars, not to mention science and common sense and the Bible itself. And the pain that her beliefs cause me is still as raw as it was in the beginning.

I imagine she harbors some anger at me as well. And sadly, she may spend the rest of her life carrying around the needless baggage of antiquated beliefs. It is those very beliefs that caused me to walk away from the church and never look back. It is those beliefs that have caused millions of shepherd boys and girls to walk away.

Which brings me to the purpose of this letter.

I have no idea what each of your beliefs are regarding homosexuality. Actually, for the purpose of what I want to convey, your beliefs are beside the point.

You may be grieving the Ray you thought you knew. You may not know what it is you are supposed to do now (although, as I understand it you all have known for a little while now). I am sure that so many tears have been shed and there are, even now, so many questions yet unanswered.

It’s ok.

It’s ok to curse the heavens and God and everything in between and it is even ok to be angry at Ray. But know this.

He is still the same man. He is still the same man of God. He is still the same man who moved hundreds of thousands of people to a closer relationship with their Heavenly Father. And above all else, he is still the same man who loves you all with all his heart. And I assure you that if there was anything – anything -- he could have done to change himself he would have without hesitation.

And know something else as well.

When I came out I packed up my Christian music CDs, including Ray’s. I could no longer listen to the music of people who believed my very existence to be an abomination. I could no longer praise the God they were praising.

When I heard the news about Ray on Monday I began to cry. And while I was crying I listened to “The Anchor Holds” over and over and over again. And in the end I was on my feet singing with Ray, praising God for the first time in years. The shepherd boy that had walked away from the church so many years ago because he no longer felt welcome, that boy, now a grown man, felt welcome to sing again.

I can now sing those songs, standing with my eyes towards the heavens and remember that no matter what stands in my way, no matter what the religious leaders tell me, no matter what people think of me, no matter how disgusting they think I am, I am still worthy enough to praise God.

That is the gift Ray Boltz gave me on Monday. He gave me permission…

permission to praise God again

Thank you for sharing Ray with us. There are, yet still, many lives to be changed,

Jon-Marc McDonald

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Wow. Touching and beautiful. I understand your struggle in so many ways, but you said it so much more eloquently than I ever could. Thank you for sharing.

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