For this Christian pastor, the Bible is a framework, not a rule book.
Ryan Meeks was brought up as an evangelical Christian. He was taught that homosexuality is a cardinal sin.
“When it came to the conversation about the LGBT community, I always felt awkward about it and I didn’t want to bring it up,” he explains.
A decade or so later, Ryan founded the mega-successful EastLake Community Church. Within a matter of years, attendance grew to the thousands thanks to Ryan’s captivating and approachable preaching.
But when a friend and a longtime musician at EastLake came out to Ryan and admitted she was afraid of being fired because of her sexual orientation, “I realized I had been a coward for too long,” Ryan says of the moment he changed his mind.
He knew he had to address the topic. He was ready to speak out.
While Ryan hadn't been hostile toward the LGBTQ community before, now he admits his lack of attention to the subject helped create a culture of fear surrounding homosexuality and the church.
Since Ryan announced that EastLake would be an open and affirming church, hundreds of people have left the church. But Ryan stands by his decision.
“I don’t care if the Bible says, ‘Gay people suck,'” he says. "I have lots of things I disagree with about the Bible."