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A Lesson in Worldview (Brought to You by the Letter "I")
September 15, 2008
So Ray Boltz, a once-prominent figure in the world of Christian Contemporary Music, is gay. He came out to his family—he is the father of four grown children—in December of 2004 but only recently has the news trickled beyond that inner circle. Just a few days ago his story was featured in an article in the Washington Blade, “the Gay and Lesbian News Source of Record” in D.C. and it provides a rough time line of the recent years of his life. In 2004 he retired from singing and touring, in 2005 he separated from his wife and moved to Ft. Lauderdale to start a new life, and this year his divorce was finalized. He is now living what he describes as a “normal gay life.”
The news was not of too much interest to me on a personal level—I don’t know Boltz, do not own any of his albums and am not familiar with even his most popular songs (which seem to be “Thank You,” “Watch the Lamb,” “The Anchor Holds” and “I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb.”). I know a little bit about him because of my many years of listening to Christian music but to me he is little more than just another face in a crowd. So it’s not like this news involves a man whose ministry I’ve known and loved. What fascinates me about this story is its worldview implications.
There are essentially two ways that humans can understand the world. The first way is the way we all understand the world until the Holy Spirit intervenes in our lives and gives us new eyes to see. This worldview is I-centered. I am the center of my own universe and the arbiter of all truth. I may not vocalize things in just this way and may not even think them quite like this, but it is ultimately what I believe. I believe that I am capable of looking at the world and understanding the way it works—who God is, who I am, the relationship between us, and so on.
The other way of seeing the world is God-centered. Here I acknowledge God as the center of all that exists and the arbiter of all truth. Everything that is true and everything that is knowable has its source in Him. Thus I can only interpret the world properly by rightly acknowledging God. This is, obviously, the biblical worldview. It is God who tells me who He is, God who tells me who I am and God who declares the terms of the relationship between us.
The first worldview allows me to acknowledge as truth only what I want to believe about myself; the second worldview requires me to acknowledge as truth what God says about me. The first worldview has to have as its premise that I am ultimately good while the second has as its premise that God is ultimately good. In the first view I sin against myself while in the second I sin against God. The contrasts could hardly be more pronounced.
Reading this story in the Blade provided an interesting perspective on worldview. Here is what Boltz said about the freedom he has found in declaring and accepting his homosexuality. “I didn’t have to be who I was in the past. I didn’t have to fit somebody else’s viewpoint of what they thought I was. I could just be myself and I met a lot of wonderful people.” He said also, “If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be … I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.”
He states with startling clarity that he rejects God’s assessment of who he is. No longer did He need to fit his worldview into anyone else’s—he was free to accept his own self-assessment. God’s assessment is that Boltz, like me, is a sinful man and one who is tempted and tormented by sin. He is a man who is corrupted by sin and so deeply corrupted that without God’s intervention he will more and more resemble the sin that inhabits him. And one sin that Boltz long wrestled with is the sin of homosexuality. This may well be a kind of besetting sin—a sin that has plagued him since his youth and one that has never lessened its pull on him. Each of us has sins we are more prone to than others and I know there are many Christians who fight lifelong struggles with sexual orientation. But I also know that God can give grace to overcome even that sin. A God-centered worldview would tell Boltz that, though he may be somehow inclined to homosexuality, this tendency is a result of sin and it is a tendency that God utterly rejects. A God-centered worldview would tell him that God assesses his sin and calls him to repentance. God does not condone his homosexuality any more than God condones any other sin.
Sadly, Boltz has an I-centered worldview. He declares without apology that he is gay and, digging a knife into God’s back, says that it is God who has made him this way. He rejects God’s assessment and instead assesses himself by his own standards and declares that he is good. He piles sin upon sin, accepting his homosexuality as good, rejecting God’s declaration that it is sin, divorcing his wife, living that homosexual lifestyle.
The lesson to me in all of this is the importance—the life and death importance—of seeing the world not through my eyes but through God’s. God has given us the Bible which allows us, like a pair of glasses that somehow illumines blind eyes, to see the world as He sees it. Through the Bible I find that I am not good but am instead utterly depraved. Incredibly and humiliatingly, I find that I have no ability to properly see and understand reality without Him. I find my desperate dependence upon Him to comprehend what may seem so plain and so obvious. I find that I need Him to interpret reality for me because, without Him, I’ll get it wrong every time. I need God to teach me to see myself.