Recently three gay men in our community invited me to meet for coffee. It wound up being the best meeting of my week. Challenging, thought-provoking, enlightening—I’m grateful I said yes.
I’ll admit that as we all were getting settled around the small table in the downtown café, immediate tension was our common bond—not because any of us is an unkind person, but because there exist thick and longstanding stereotypes about them—gay men—and about types like me—evangelical megachurch pastors—as well as myriad assumptions to overcome. Would they lash out at me in anger? Would I condemn them for their sinful ways? Both parties were suspicious: where was this thing headed, anyway?
What follows are five lessons learned from that hour-long meeting, courtesy of one who stands today renewed in his hope that bridge-building still is possible, regardless of the chasm we’re trying to span.
One: Our stories are more similar than we think.
As I took in the tales of their upbringing—their families, their histories, their quirks—I realized that the details that separated my experience from theirs were grossly outnumbered by the uncanny similarities we shared. The truth is, none of us had perfect families.
Two: Truth isn’t always conveyed in love.
To a person, these three men explained to me that as soon as they came out as gay, they were treated terribly by Christ followers, all of whom wanted them to “know the truth.” Consequently, these men were well versed in the evangelical theories of marriage, family, and sexuality. They were also well versed in the art of being judged and scorned.
Three: Homosexuality is more bipartisan than we may think.
Two of the three men were Republicans, which spurred on more than a few laughs about how both straight and gay people like to keep their money in their pocket instead of adding to the government dole.
Four: Common sense points to common ground.
As we continued our conversation, it became apparent to me that while we may never agree on what the Bible means when it speaks of both sexuality and homosexuality, certainly we can agree that both the gay community and the evangelical Jesus-following community can do a better job of being kind toward one another. “Bullying is never okay,” I said to them, just before affirming my commitment to help stand up for everyone in our city—both gay and straight—who is being targeted for insults and outright violence. I shared my story of being falsely accused of being a “hater’ when, in fact, I have never felt that way about the gay community.
Five: Coffee tables are places of peace.
The four of us—three gay guys and a straight pastor—agreed that further dialogue held in neutral territory was imperative to our bridging a volatile gap.
Listen, I have not budged a bit on my theology regarding biblical marriage being solely between a man and a woman. I have not wavered in my belief that acting on homosexual tendencies remains an outright sin. I’m simply determined to live as Jesus lived. He had real relationships with people who believed and lived differently than him.
We are called to be people of peace. Join me if you dare.
January 17, 2014 at 11:51 pm
This has to be my absolute favorite thing you have written. Thank you for living out Jesus’ command to love thy neighbor in a way that seeks to have humble and open conversations. So proud to call you my pastor.
January 18, 2014 at 12:12 am
January 18, 2014 at 1:31 am
Thank you for going into the world. I love your heart to step down from the stage, and become real. Your love for people is apparent.
January 18, 2014 at 2:07 am
January 18, 2014 at 3:34 am
I’m so proud of you for doing this that I’m sharing this article on my FB page. Pastor Brady ain’t “scurred!” 😉
January 18, 2014 at 3:57 am
Ha! Love it!
January 18, 2014 at 5:57 am
Praying you’ll never get a big head over these awesome comments, but you are awesome! Can’t wait to move to CO so we can attend NL every week! In the meantime I enjoy ur podcasts while living in Saudi Arabia!
January 18, 2014 at 9:34 am
Such a Bold & Godly decision to engage in such a tough issue.
I’m always encouraged in my pastoral work by you Brady. I hope to see you again soon at CMM I pray! #VisitKenyaAgain
January 18, 2014 at 3:02 pm
Did you ask them if they would feel welcome at New Life? That’s a biggie, I think. (We have to figure this out, don’t we? The evangelical church can’t be satisfied with where things stand with the gay community. )
I’m glad that my Pastor did this.
January 18, 2014 at 4:35 pm
They are welcome at New Life. They had some big misconceptions about our church, but I hope I helped them feel welcome.
January 18, 2014 at 10:20 pm
Thank you, thank you. It takes courage to do the right thing, it takes love to walk like Jesus. I see both demonstrated in this step you have taken.
January 19, 2014 at 4:26 am
Thats an awful lot of conversation for one hour. I think you are just another mega pastor trying to show how the depth of your brand of cookie cutter Christianity speaks to the world. Go back to your flashy Sun. spectaculars and leave the teaching to those who seek first His.Kingdom, love God, love others and make disciples.
January 19, 2014 at 2:41 pm
Wow, James!! I am not sure we have met, but I would appreciate some grace from you until we do. Come hang out with me at New Life and then make your judgments. Peace and grace to you, my brother.
January 20, 2014 at 1:48 pm
Wow! What a balanced message! Throughout my years as a Christian woman I have been “fed” so much in the way of extremes….mushy, gushy love that requires no commitment or legalistic, harsh discipline that leaves room for no grace and mercy. I am continually having old ways torn down and new truths built up through Gods word and the ministry of New Life Church. Now if you could just plant a church here in Pike County, Pa all would be well! Thanks Brady Boyd!
January 20, 2014 at 5:42 pm
I didn’t mean to offend or lack grace. It just seemed unusual that so many of your congregants were impressed that you would meet with 3 gay men. As a pastor of thousands i would think that you would meet with gays, liars,adulterer, gossips, and thieves regularly as they are the ones that Jesus sent believers to minister the gospel. I am blessed that God allows me to do so regularly and i try to do so with great grace,mercy, and love. As i stated earlier i didnt mean to offend just open your eyes and heart a little more!
January 23, 2014 at 1:21 pm
James. I meet with people from all walks of life regularly. From time to time, I share what I learned in these meetings. We are a church deeply involved in our community and our eyes and hearts are fully open to the pain in our city and region. Thanks again.
January 20, 2014 at 7:16 pm
Thank you Pastor Brady…for loving others like Jesus does. May the Church become a welcoming place for all…where “we are a people who normally would not mix” (Big Book AA pg 17). God is love and Love always wins!!
January 20, 2014 at 11:31 pm
January 22, 2014 at 4:31 pm
This is why I stay away from newlife. They are very friendly and community based but I can’t help but think they would be welcome there to be converted over to heterosexuality. You can have the biblical marriage but legal marriage should be for everybody. Homosexuality is not a sin and neither is promiscuity. A woman or man can do what they want as consenting adults. You can have lots of sex or gay sex and live your life morally. Having coffee with these three gay men would have been amazing if they would have allowed you to accept things that you believe are sinful but are not. You are born gay in most cases. You do not accept these men. You view them as sinners but do not want them bullied. Calling someone a sinner is the start.
January 22, 2014 at 5:13 pm
Thanks for your thoughts. We obviously disagree on what the Bible says about a lot of things, but I do appreciate that you read the blog and responded. Peace and grace to you.
January 27, 2014 at 9:58 pm
It was a most pleasant as well as encouraging meeting. I felt we did learn much from each other and you display the truth of the term Christian. Yourself and Yvette are two of the kindest people I have met. For the record I at NO point felt any judgement from you; Your kindness and graciousness was notably true and sincere. Our discourse definitely showed that our differences are far outweighed by our similarities and though we may not see eye to eye on some things it was great that we could agree on the things we both see need to change! I will gladly stand with you in bringing an end to bullying and I am thankful you feel called to be a voice in the anti-bullying movement. Thank you again for an amazing coffee break and may God bless you and Yvette!
January 27, 2014 at 10:27 pm
Being one of those three gay men that met with Mr. Boyd I must admit, the meeting was pleasant and surprisingly not adversarial. I would guess that I am the Doubting Thomas of the “three gay men” group and I, similar to the some of the other posts above do not think we will ever agree on what the bible says or means regarding me, as a man loving another man. I am also not sure where this new sense of collaboration or at the least new sense of communication is leading but, I am very pleased that we seem to have come to one consensus and that was it is so the time to STOP the WAR!
Those are my words and no one else’s but I did take that “concept” away from the meeting and I think everyone agreed to it in theory anyhow. There are far too many LGBT individuals, both youth and adults that are killing themselves over the fight between “some” self-proclaimed Christians and the LGBT individuals.
I too am not sure where this will lead but I am pleased that we are working hard to build bridges in Colorado Springs with the goal of connecting, supporting and empowering LGBT individuals.
January 30, 2014 at 1:30 am
as a Christian gay male Im constantly reminding myself that Jesus was treated differently by his own people. Jesus was born by God the Father the Holy Spirit and was sent here to die for our sins. hatred from any perspective is in the form of evil. Love thy neighbor. Do unto others as youd have done to you. Remember also that we as humans have limited understanding of what The Holy Spirit is. If you feel hatred toward others its the Devil thats guiding your thoughts. PRAY for peace and love in all things human. We are only equiped with sinning ways. We are unable to be perfect. Thats why Jesus Is here for.
February 3, 2014 at 3:51 am
I don’t see where you learned much of anything, except maybe how to be more smarmy and condescending.
February 3, 2014 at 4:02 am
Peace and grace.
February 10, 2014 at 8:43 am
Dear Pastor Boyd,
As a gay man who lost everything when he came out of the closet, including his friends, family and ministry, I appreciate your willingness to dialogue. It took me many years to get over the pain of losing it all when I told the truth but now I am an ordained minister again and comfortable with who I am and with my spirituality. As a pastor who is gay, I admittedly have some differences of opinion with you on a number of topics but I choose instead to look for those things we share in common and I think there is more that unites us than that divides us.
Please continue the dialogue.
May peace go with you,
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