Tuan N'Gai (TN): Good afternoon Apostle Byrd. As always,
I will be starting the interview by starting a thought with
"God Opens Doors…" and I'd like you to complete the thought
in your own words. God opens doors…
Alex Byrd (AB): …in spite of ourselves. We're often preoccupied
with our abilities or inabilities when God's plan and power
are within us. We should never feel inadequate to fulfil His
plan for our lives. God opens doors for all of us, in spite
TN: Give us a little history about Living Faith Covenant
AB: Our doors opened on August 6, 1999. We started out as
a Bible Study. Since then, we've been active in the community.
We've been adamant about not fading away like the affirming
churches that started before us. It's been a long journey,
but people who were once unstable or unsure about joining
us are now coming back.
TN: What would you say is the church's vision?
AB: We are striving to create an environment that models
and values diversity and to facilitate a personal and intimate
relationship with God for each individual member. We promote
having an intimate relationship with God, versus becoming
God for the people.
TN: So have mainstream churches "become God" for the people?
AB: The church has determined that people don't have the
capability to discern the voice of God for themselves, and
have become God for them. Jeremiah 31.31-34 talks about God's
new covenant that he would put in the minds and hearts of
His people. He will be our God; we will be His people. The
scriptures go on to say, "And they shall teach no more every
man his neighbour… saying, 'Know the Lord:' for they shall
all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them…"
TN: So how do we get rid of or change this type of idolatry
that's been created by the church?
AB: That goal is too lofty for us, but we can train new ministers
with a new paradigm of ministry. The new paradigm requires
ministers to become the facilitators, showing people the way
to God…not becoming the way to God.
TN: In your opinion, what is the root of "gay-bashing" preaching?
AB: Good question. For the majority of preachers who bash,
I'd say the root is sincere compassionate ignorance. They
truly want to see people saved and in their understanding,
they believe homosexuality is wrong. They have to send that
message so people will "come out" of it. It's a hard task
for them to do. The more resistance from the homosexual(s),
the more they preach it. They are ignorant, but sincere. They
are ignorant in understanding the homosexual as a person.
They're ignorant in their understanding of the general context,
cultural climate, history, language and translation of scripture.
They are ignorant in how to appropriately apply historical
text to the current needs of our society, with its likenesses
and differences. But ignorance isn't a bad thing now…it simply
means, "I don't know". But stupidity IS bad. It says "I don't
know, and I don't care to find out."
TN: With that said, is the ex-gay movement doing more harm
or more good?
AB: First let me say that I thank God for the ex-gay movement.
Being a former ex-gay myself, my issue with our community
is one of integrity. If we believe something is wrong, we
should live by what we believe. People are in conflict with
themselves, so they live dual lives. The ex-gay movement gives
an opportunity for the individual to have support and fellowship
as they endeavor to live with integrity to their own beliefs.
It's the inner conflict that's killing people my SGL/GLBT
brothers and sisters. And the ex-gay movement helps remove
the conflict in the life of the seeker, if they have determined
that homosexual behavior is a sin. Honestly speaking, had
there not been an ex-gay movement, I would not be an affirming
preacher. What it did for me was force me to get a better
understanding of the scriptures. It removed the inner conflict
about my being gay. I don't believe that it is God's will
for everyone to not be homosexual. If ex-gay is where a person
is in their relationship with God, then that's where they
TN: Can the ex-gay and affirming/inclusive movements work
AB: I hope so. The issue is being healed and living healthy
lives. Whatever that means (either being affirmed or ex-gay),
I want that for people. If the ex-gay movement will stop the
conflict for someone, I'll be the first to refer them.
TN: With Living Faith being an affirming/inclusive church,
how do you propose making non-sgl (same gender loving) people
feel comfortable and safe in the congregation?
AB: The first thing is to have a good orientation program.
We should teach that we should not assume that everyone that
comes through the doors IS gay. Since we're gonna promote
diversity, we MUST deal with that issue. Secondly, the non-sgl
people would have to understand that EVERYONE would be ministered
to. Relational Christianity is not just about gays. Whatever
the greatest need is in the body will be emphasized.
TN: Define Relational Christianity?
AB: Relational Christianity is looking at MY relationship
with God in terms of the integrity of my relationship with
God, with myself as a person, with others, and with the environment.
Every religious theme is looked at through the eyes of relationship.
TN: So, what if one person says, "my relationship with God
says it's okay to be promiscuous", while others say it isn't
okay? Are there no absolutes in this viewpoint?
AB: The absolutes will come through. I recognize individual
responsibility to define what they believe. My responsibility
is NOT to make them believe as I do. I put the word out there,
understanding that I believe what I believe because I have
chosen to have faith in it. It is possible that I could be
wrong. God will do the work if the individual develops a deeper
relationship with God. In the end, God will judge by our faith
and not by what we did right or wrong. What God wants most
for us is that we have the Right Relationship, as opposed
to always Being Right.
TN: Good insight. Lastly, if you had 45 seconds to address
the entire world what would your message be?
AB: I would say "God desperately wants to have an intimate
and personal relationship with you. God wants true communion,
where He knows you, and you know Him by personal experience."
TN: Thank you Apostle Byrd for your time, for your example,
and for your being obedient to the work God has called you
AB: Thank you as well.