BOTHELL, Wa. — A profanity-speaking preacher who has lost hundreds in his congregation over his decision to allow open homosexuals to serve in leadership positions, and who says he “doesn’t care” what the Bible has to say on the issue, is featured in a new online video that has received over a million views in less than a week.
Ryan Meeks is the founder of EastLake Community Church in Bothell, Washington, which identifies itself as “an inclusive Christian community where faith is less about a story to be believed as it is a life to be lived.”
In 2015, Meeks announced that he believed a “move of the Spirit” caused him to rethink how he had handled the issue of homosexuality. In the April 8th video released by Upworthy, Meeks—amid clips of profanity usage—noted that he used to shy away from the topic.
“When it came to the conversation around the LGBT community and church policy, or what does the Bible say about homosexuality, I always felt awkward about it. I didn’t want to bring it up,” he explained.
“I felt like I needed to scare people into believing the right thing because the God who loves them is going to send most of human history to Hell,” Meeks said. “That’s the Good News? Sounds pretty [expletive]!”
He outlined that when one of the members of the EastLake worship team came out as a lesbian and feared that she would consequently lose the right to serve, he questioned how he had come across to others.
“[M]y heart broke and I just realized I had been a coward for too long,” Meeks recalled.
He decided that EastLake would therefore be “open and affirming” going forward. However, he knew that the choice would carry consequences and he might lose the congregation.
“I took so many sit-down meetings where people with their open Bible would be like (pointing to the Scriptures),” he said, mocking their insistence to hold to the word of God.
According to the Upworthy video, hundreds left EastLake over the decision, which resulted in the loss of $2.8 million, the layoff of staff and the closure of its campuses.
But despite the backlash, Meeks has not changed his mind.
“I don’t care if the Bible says, ‘Gay people [crude language],'” he declared. “The Bible is pro-slavery, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. It doesn’t have a very great view of women leading and teaching. I have lots of things I disagree with about the Bible.”
“We’ve decided [the Bible] fell from the sky and now we’ve got to [use] it like a manual for how to run the Earth, how to legislate morality. And that’s not what it is,” Meeks asserted. “If we need to consult an ancient book to know what to do when a human being is in front of us, I think we’re [crude language] already.”
The video has received mixed response from its over one million viewers.
“As a bi-sexual Christian, this is the kind of church we need more of. I only found one that wholeheartedly accepted me and I had to move away so couldn’t continue going there. They also loved me regardless of the fact I had a child out of wedlock as a single mother. Anywhere else I’ve gone has tried to force me to change,” one commenter wrote. “Judgment is not love.”
“Homosexuality is a sin like any other sin. God loves us so much that He doesn’t want us to remain in our sinfulness, but He wants to transform us by the renewing of our minds—to go from glory to glory,” another stated. “We are all born into sin, and homosexuality was not how God created us to be intimate with one another. Any Bible believing, Holy Spirit-filled Christian will come to this conclusion.”
As previously reported, Christians believe that homosexuality—like any sin—is a part of the Adamic sin nature that must be regenerated by the second birth, as Jesus outlined in John 3:5-7, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”