Since 2004, when Ray Boltz came out to his wife Carol and their four children, Carol has shown herself to be a woman of extraordinary strength and courage.
Any husband or wife who finds out their spouse is gay, will undoubtedly face a variety of frustrating situations and want many questions answered. However, what has made Carol’s journey stand out from so many others is the fact that she continues to stand beside and support her former husband.
What allows Carol to remain positive in a situation many spouses would easily become bitter? There are several factors. But in short, it is her faith in Christ.
Carol grew up in Indiana with her mother, father, and three other siblings. For most of her life, Carol happily attended a Methodist Church.
“I loved church,” Carol said with a great amount of passion. “I loved singing the hymns and going to Sunday School. I would even fake being sick so I could stay home and read Bible story books.”
Like Ray, Carol graduated from Ball State University in the 70’s.
“The Jesus Movement was really big then," Carol said. "There were lots of Bible studies on campus. There were also lots of hippies on campus. When I met Ray, he was a hippie with curly hair down to his shoulders. He even had huge mutton chops since his father wouldn’t allow him to have a full beard.
“I was immediately struck by how cute he was! At first, Ray and I hung out a lot…we always did things together by ourselves and with groups of people,” Carol said. So it was a very natural progression when Ray asked Carol to marry him.
Ray and Carol married in the spring of 1975 and eventually had four children. Even in the early years of their marriage, Ray was often asked to sing. “One booking always seemed to lead to another,” Carol said.
During this time, Carol was right beside Ray in his career. She took care of the financial end while Ray accepted every invitation he was given.
“I was very uneasy, even fearful of Ray going into the music ministry full time," Carol said. "When Ray was considering this, we had three children and a fourth on the way. I was nervous.”
But through it all, God was faithful and Ray continued to provide for his family.
“We always paid our bills, we never went into any bad debt, and Ray never did anything to jeopardize this family," Carol said. "How could I keep Ray from doing the music he loves?"
So with a heart full of love for her husband and a mind full of an understandable amount of fear, Carol resigned herself to be a supportive wife. “I knew the Lord was telling me I needed to let go and stop worrying about it.”
As Ray’s career took off, Carol continued to be integral to its success by serving as bookkeeper. On stage, Ray was clearly a talented man using the gifts God had given him. But offstage, Ray was growing increasingly depressed. He couldn’t resolve his faith and sexuality.
Throughout the 80’s and 90’s, Ray went on to have phenomenal success in the Christian Music Industry.
“He never had a publicist, he never had a mentor, he simply had great songs," Carol said. "But toward the end of the 90’s, I knew Ray was depressed, and I knew he struggled with something.”
One day shortly before Ray came out, Carol and Ray were having an argument. Carol asked, “Why is this always about you?” Ray responded, “Because if I don’t figure this out, I’m gonna kill myself.”
A dramatic statement at a dramatic moment. But it was a moment Carol came face to face with the realization that Ray was in desperate need of some kind of change in his life. “I knew when he looked at me, like he always looked at me, I knew he loved me," Carol said. "And I knew it wasn’t me. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew there was something desperately wrong with Ray.”
Ray had been exhibiting all the classic signs of depression. He slept late, took afternoon naps, and went to bed early. Complicating this was the fact that his blood pressure was high, his sugar levels were out of line, his cholesterol was high and he was on antidepressants.
Ray came out to his family the day after Christmas 2004. When Ray finally revealed what had been at the center of his internal conflict, Carol understandably had a wealth of questions. But there wasn’t a lot of explanation. Carol simply showed her support with hugs and prayers.
For Carol to let go of the marriage she had so happily embraced for 30 years was no easy task. She saw two choices: she could hold to the older views of homosexuality - that it is wrong and offensive to God - and lose Ray as a friend, or she could embrace newer views of homosexuality - that God won’t change what He created to begin with - and lose her marriage. Neither option was ideal.
“I figured I had lost Ray either way, so I decided to make the most positive choice in this situation,” Carol said.
She then read Mel White’s “Stranger at the Gate” to help her understand what Ray was going through.
“Initially, I still wanted God to change this situation. I was frustrated. I was angry. Even if I accepted the fact that God doesn’t change individuals, couldn’t He change just one?” Carol said with a laugh.
Perhaps one of the most helpful factors surrounding this situation is the fact that Carol and Ray have kept their lines of communication open.
“We have talked and cried and prayed to come up with the best solution," Carol said. "And the only solution we have come up with is to move forward under God’s direction.”
Since Ray came out publicly in September 2008, Carol has been very public about her support. She attended the Equality Ride rally. She and Ray both are supportive of the United Church of Christ, a denomination known for its support of the GLBT community.
Last fall, Carol and Ray attended the “Our Family Matters” conference in Nashville. Additionally, Carol has started her own blog at www.myheartgoesout-carol.blogspot.com for husbands and wives of a gay spouse. With this kind of public support, Carol has had the opportunity to meet many individuals in situations like her own. This public visibility is affording her the opportunity to minister to others and to be a source of encouragement to other spouses in similar situations.
"This hasn’t been easy, but I know God is in it. Ray has worked hard to show me he loves me. He never put our family in jeopardy…providing for us has been his life," Carol said. “If there is some form of visibility to our story, of the fact that you don’t have to hate the other person, or cut them out of your life, maybe our story will offer some good and guidance to others going through it."