The Last Goodbyes

As For Today wraps up their farewell tour, vocalist and author Mattie Montgomery has to figure out his next move. HM's Nathan Myrick meets with Montgomery on a cold night to talk about his new book, his final farewells as a frontman, and his new future.

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It’s -17 degrees Fahrenheit (wind chill -30) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Cabooze — a dark, rehabbing dive bar on Cedar Avenue — is packed with parka-clad beards, Nordeast tallboys protruding from goose down sleeves. The cut-lyric of “I believe I can fly” hangs suspended over the bar, a frosty harbinger of things to come. In an instant, the lights burst on and the only person still flying is the kid who’s already diving off the stage onto the sea of parkas. For Today will soon be a thing of yesterday, and, on this night, they have only three tomorrows. Their punishing and uncompromising metalcore pulses with an urgency that belies the end. The audience explodes in response. A woman appears in the sea of beards, rips one off a face, slaps it onto her own, and disappears into the mosh pit. The naked-faced parka gawks for an instant, hoping no one notices he has a chin, then shoves his way into the pit to retrieve his beard.

Vocalist Mattie Montgomery emerges from the seemingly nonexistent backstage at Cabooze, prowling and smaring (the kind of smiling glare only a metalcore frontman can muster) at each beard he catches in his gaze…

We are a nation entirely obsessed with our own self-understanding, be it sexual, political, racial, religious, or gendered. With that obsession comes lines, fences. Boundaries real and imaginary. To transgress those lines is to become an enemy of the ideals that boundary represents. So, it is quite unusual to encounter a man such as Mattie Montgomery, the vocalist of former Christian deathcore band For Today.

Montgomery confounds stereotypes even as he constructs them. His work with For Today has been an exercise in subverting assumptions about the demeanor and appearance of conservative Christians. Over the course of their ten-year history, For Today have intentionally chosen to eschew the Christian Music Industry in favor of the secular — not, as may be assumed, for the purpose of wealth or fame; nor has this decision tempered their message. Rather, their evangelistic efforts have become more pronounced as they found their audiences populating bars and clubs. In Montgomery’s words, the doctor is for the sick, not the healthy.

I’ve never encountered a band — of any genre — who has been more successful while adhering to the stereotypical forms of that genre. In terms of hardcore music, they were vanilla; every break down and blast beat as predictable as the sunrise. This is not to say that For Today was a bad band. Not at all. Vanilla can be good, especially when it doesn’t try to be anything other than vanilla. For Today was excellent vanilla. They remained unconcerned with the formulaic nature of their songs. It was almost like they didn’t care, and I don’t think they did. In fact, their intention was never to break the mold of what their genre might be, but rather to bring the message of the gospel to those who would not otherwise hear it. The medium was not the message. It was the means of conveying the message: You don’t have to be a white, upper-middle class republican to follow Jesus. You can be wild, a weirdo, a metalhead, a goth kid and still follow Jesus. Christianity is, in For Today’s world (and mine), open for everyone.

Before the show, I caught up with Montgomery in Cabooze’s (sort of) green room. It took zero minutes with him for me to realize that Montgomery does not do superficial conversation, at least not in interviews. We plumbed the depths of human social interaction, biblical theology, and themes of justice and revival. We talked about his new book, Lovely Things in Ugly Places, his future plans, and the way God views people. When it was over, I had no idea what to think, stereotypes be damned.


HM: So what’s it like to be on a farewell tour?
Mattie Montgomery: The one thing about a farewell tour is it’s like, imagine saying goodbye to a close friend of yours, someone you really care about that you love deeply. And you hug each other, and you’re crying. It’s emotional. “I’ll miss you so much, bye, I love you,” and you walk out the front door and you realize that you forgot your keys. Then you have to go back in. And you’re all, “I forgot my keys. But I love you and I’ll really miss you.” Then you go out again and realize that you forgot your wallet. So then you have to go back in. Now imagine doing that 61 times. By the end of it you’re like, “OK. Later.” And so on this tour, we have to be a little bit intentional to remember just how sweet this is, and to stay sentimental about it. Because saying goodbye to 61 different cities, by the end of it, you’re like “Ok, we’ve done this” (laughs).

But honestly, it’s really been surreal: To be able to go all over the world one last time. To see how far the music — and the message — has been able to reach. And so it’s been humbling. It’s been overwhelming. More than anything, I’m just grateful to God for having been given this opportunity.

For Today’s “Seraphim,” from their 2010 album Breaker released by Facedown Records

You guys started on Facedown Records, then moved out of the Christian Music Industry entirely. What’s the motivation behind that decision?
It’s not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick, and so we’ve really gone out of our way to make sure that we did not wind up functioning in the Christian Music Industry. We wanted to shine a light into the darkness and be intentional about going to where the darkness is.

So, how do you feel that the music that you perform — heavy music — affects the way your fans interact with the message, how they receive the message of the gospel?
I think that in the U.S. — I don’t know if this is good or bad, it’s just the way it is — but in the United States, Christianity has been equated with a certain type of demeanor, a certain type of culture. You know, white, upper-middle class, Republican, khaki pants wearing, all that. I think that because of the kind of music that we play, because of the kind of culture that we are representing, that we might be able to shake people’s perceptions of Christianity. And instead of saying, “You need to be more like Billy Graham if you’re going to be a Christian,” that you can be different. You can be yourself. You can be wild and still be a believer, still be used by God. I think that’s something I’m really excited about, showing people in the church that you don’t have to do it the way the generation before us did it. You can be like David when he fought Goliath. He didn’t put on Saul’s armor. He went and did it the way he knew how, and I think that’s what’s happening in our generation. It may not look the way that it looked in the ’60s and ’70s, but it’s gonna be worth it, and it’s gonna be exactly what God dreamed for us.

“So if someone were to ask, ‘Is For Today a heavy worship band?’ I would be like, ‘No, For Today is a warfare band.'”

On that note, how would you compare a For Today concert to a worship service?
They’re not real similar. A lot of people have said, “I worship so much during your shows, it’s like a worship concert!” And the reality is that “worship” is not worship unless it’s directed to God. You can sing songs about God, like the song “Oh How He Loves.” It’s a great Christian song, but it’s not a worship song because it’s about God, it’s not to God, you know? Worship is adoration to God, saying, “This is who you are. This is how I see you.” And so, while our music is about God and it’s about what God has done in our lives, most of it, at least, isn’t worship. So if someone were to ask, “Is For Today a heavy worship band?” I would be like, “No, For Today is a warfare band.” This is music that you can listen to when you confront Satan, stand chest-to-chest with the devil and tell him where he can stick it. I don’t think people are going to end up on their faces, adoring God listening to For Today. And that’s OK. I think that there is a time for all of that. Sometimes it’s important that we sit in awe and honor God for what He’s done. And sometimes I think you need to stand up and go handle some business, and it’s cool that God is providing music for all of that.

On that warfare note, how do you do that? In a couple of places in your book, you talk about fighting with peace, fighting towards peace. How do you fight and do peace at the same time?
Well, I think the thing is that you have to see past the warfare. Like, the Bible gives us guidance about this thing. I don’t go chasing demons around. I’m not even concerned with demons; that just gets in the way of our freedom. When I see somebody being devastated by the spirit of fear, I know there is something that can cast out the spirit of fear, and that’s called perfect love. Perfect love casts out fear. We know that. And when I see someone being devastated by a spirit of heaviness, also called “clinical depression,” I know that God has said, “I intend to give you a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness.” And so when I see heaviness, I’m not going to come saying, “I cast you out, spirit of heaviness,” you know, shaking people and throwing them around. But I can say with absolute confidence, “I know, because of the opposition you’re facing, that God intends to give you this garment of praise, and, if you want to see this thing taken off of your life, you need to break through and worship.” And so, in every random opposition that you see in somebody’s life, with that comes a promise of what God intends to do for you. So I never lose my peace, I never lose my excitement about what God is wanting to do. When I see the demonic opposition on somebody’s life, I see that as inhibiting God-given potential, and so I want to call out and nurture that potential and speak into that.

For Today Photo by Jim Layton

For Today Photo by Jim Layton

You’re tying spiritual warfare into human flourishing on earth, is that right?
Oh yeah, the physical world is a metaphor for our spiritual reality. That’s why Jesus would give lame people the ability to walk again, because He intends to give people who are spiritually lame the ability to walk again. That’s why He gave blind people their sight back, because He wants to open the eyes of their spirit to see Him. Now, if I get caught up with catering to the physical world, things are gonna be really weird when I am only a spiritual being — after I die, or whatever happens to help me make that transition. So yeah, absolutely, I don’t think that we can make a delineation between the two, that we are first and foremost, as C. S. Lewis said, a soul that has a body, not a body that has a soul. I think God intends to minister to people and set people free on a spiritual level. That will then translate into their mind, body, and emotions, and that will then help to determine and transform their physical reality as well.

In your book, you write about finding treasure in people. Can you talk more about that?
Yeah. In Matthew 13:44, Jesus tells a parable that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field which a man found. And out of joy over it, he goes and sells all he has and buys that field. That’s the story of the gospel. Jesus being the man walking through the field — which is humanity — finding a treasure, the beautiful things that he considered worth everything. And He went and gave everything, all He had, with his own blood on the cross, paid the price to have the whole field.

I think there was a time in my life when I was really frustrated by sinners, and thought, “Man, what am I supposed to say to these people? They don’t care, don’t want to hear it.” I was at the end of my rope — and that’s when God brought that revelation in my life — and I realized that no matter how broken, how perverse or twisted a person is or how dire their situation might be, there is a treasure in that field if we just look and see it. The Bible says that Jesus, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising its shame. What was it He saw in those prostitutes in Lyon, France that he considered worth dying for? What was it that He saw in me that He considered worth dying for? What did He see in that weird, goth, metalhead kid at the For Today show that He considered worth dying for? I’ve got to be willing to take the time to look and see that. And sometimes that’s easy and sometimes it’s not easy, but it’s always there, and it’s always beautiful. And I’ve got to be able to see what Jesus sees, and so that’s the dream.

You give a description of a For Today show in your book, and you talk about how things are temporary and fleeting. That’s one of the themes that runs through the book, this temporary nature of relationships and actions. How do you think that observation affects the whole of life?
Man, since I became a Christian I’ve probably seen more people — well, just as many people — fall away from the faith as I have come to it. And I think that’s something people don’t consider when they say “yes” to come to Jesus. They think, “I’m gonna say ‘yes’ to Jesus, then I’m gonna start going to church and these awesome people I meet at church are going to run together with me for the rest of our lives.” But the reality is that even Jesus had thousands of people who would follow Him out into the wilderness — He couldn’t leave the city during the day because thousands of people were pushing in to try to get closer — and then, one day, He said, “If anyone wants to come after me, they must eat my flesh and drink my blood,” and they all left. Only 12 stayed. And then they all deserted him. Or think of Judas. He was with Jesus for three years handpicked!

“When we tell kids in Sunday School that you can go and slay giants, we are the hero of the story, but we are not the hero of that story. Jesus is the hero of the story”

I think the idea of the connection we make in ministry being fleeting is something we’ve got to come to terms with, that the reality is most of the people we minister to are not gonna stick it out. And we’ve got to be OK with that, because it’s not about the field. It’s about the treasure buried in the field. The reason He gave everything He had to buy the field was not because the field was so awesome, but because He saw the treasure buried in the field. I’ve preached the gospel to hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people in the last ten years, and there are maybe a few that are gonna stay in my life for the long haul. And I’m OK with that. It’s a theme in the book because it’s a theme in ministry, and it’s a theme in the Christian life. If I’m going to continue running after God, I’ve got to know it is a narrow path and that not a lot of people are going to come with me.

And that hurts sometimes, doesn’t it?
Absolutely. But it’s worth it. Wouldn’t change it for the world.

What does a posture of peaceful ministry look like to you?
It looks like never forgetting that Jesus is our victorious warrior, and that is an intentional reference to the story of David and Goliath. When we tell kids in Sunday School that you can go and slay giants, we are the hero of the story, but we are not the hero of that story. Jesus is the hero of the story. Like last night, there was this Satanic kid who had carved a pentagram into his chest and had cut marks all the way up his arm and was wearing this pentagram necklace. And he told me that his back hurts. So I laid hands on him, and Jesus heals his back. And he screams, “Holy sh-t!” And then starts screaming to his friends, “It feels better you guys!” And he rips off his pentagram necklace, and asks me to pray for him to know Jesus.

I didn’t win that. I didn’t do that. It was Jesus. I just got Jesus involved. And so maintaining a posture of peace in the midst of a war doesn’t mean I’m oblivious to the war. It just means that whenever there’s a battle, I call Jesus to bear. I call the name of Jesus to bear, because at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, every tongue will confess. And so if there’s a battle, if there’s a confrontation, if somebody’s being attacked, I call the name of Jesus to bear, and I establish the authority of Jesus in that situation. I don’t ever set foot onto the battlefield. I send Jesus in there to win the victory. And I cheer along.

So how does the church work for peace in that way?
Actively. So many people would say, “Oh, that’s great, I’m just going to go do nothing and let Jesus go and handle the homeless or the demon possessed or the sick and the dying, the unbelievers in my city,” you know? “Jesus, you do it. I’m just going to hide in church because I’m scared.” And that’s not how it works. God loves to work through human agency. That’s why the men had to lower their friend through the roof when he was on a mat so that Jesus would heal him. That’s why the women who was bleeding had to fight through the crowd to touch him. That’s why blind Bartimaeus had to call out even louder when people tried to hush him so that Jesus would heal him. It’s because God is looking for those who are looking for him.

That’s why we as believers get the opportunity — and, I mean, get the opportunity — to partner with God. That means that I get to carry Jesus into bars and nightclubs. I get to go and carry Jesus into homeless shelters. I get to go and carry Jesus into Starbucks or the grocery store. Everywhere I go, I have the opportunity — you know that song, “This Little Light of Mine”? I think it’s a little bit silly, because there’s nothing little about it. It’s supposed to be a raging inferno that consumes me and everything around me. But, there is a truth in that, because I can hide it. I have the opportunity to hide who Jesus is in any situation, and that’s what the church does. We hide it and we think, “Well, people who want Jesus, I’ll tell them about him.” We’ve got to let that light shine. We’ve got to release that fire of God. We’ve got to be moved by compassion like Jesus was and understand that the gospel really is the power of God to set His people free and to release the hostage, even if it’s awkward. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Even if we have other stuff going on. Even if I’m busy. Even if it’s inconvenient. We’ve got to understand how desperately the world needs the gospel and be willing to share it with them.

So what’s up next for you then? Launching into speaking and preaching?
Yeah, I will be doing that. How much of that or exactly what it’s going to look like is still up in the air. One of the first things I’m going to do after this tour is go home and take my wife away, take her on a vacation for a week. And during that time we’re just gonna spend a lot of time praying, a lot of time together seeking the Lord as a couple and just really get some vision for where we want to go, in terms of ministry or business or life. Then, together, we’ll implement that plan. I’ve got a lot of ideas and thoughts I maybe could tell you about, but until my wife and I get together and see the dream together, everything is a question mark.

Cool. You tell a story in your book about walking around France and seeing the sex workers there. You mention a number of ways they were objectified in your mind, and how that’s tied into certain systems of the world and certain ideas about where people can fit and what people can do. This is a two-part question: First, can you elaborate on what you say in the book a little bit. Second, how can people be involved in working against those sorts of systems of objectification? Working to stop human trafficking in that regard?
Yeah. (We released) “Fight the Silence,” and it’s helped to raise money for the A21 campaign. (Editor’s Note: A21 is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending human trafficking.) They’re actually doing a lot of stuff in France, and one of the things — this really goes back to what I was saying about spiritual warfare in that we’ve got to be able to look past a person’s problem and see their potential. You know, I saw those women as prostitutes — either as things to be used for the gratification of my fleshly desires or as things to be scared of and run away from. And the problem with both of those viewpoints is that I viewed them as things instead of people who had a purpose, as people God had a plan and a dream for when he formed them in their mother’s wombs — and (prostitution) wasn’t it. I’ve got to be willing to look past somebody’s job description or their circumstance and see their potential.

You know, before we could ever expect people to (participate), well, we could ask them for money. But I think, even more than people like that need money, they need people that are willing to see them for who God says they are. They need people who are willing to look past just their body and to value them and honor them for who they really are to God. That’s something that I’m still learning to do every day. I want to do that better. I think that the inevitable byproduct of a breakthrough in that area, especially in the church, is going to mean that the pornography industry is going to take a hit. That the human trafficking industry is going to take a hit. But, again, it’s a spiritual issue that’s manifesting itself in our physical reality. If we only offer physical solutions, we’re not ever going to address the root of the problem, and the root of the problem is that we don’t have the mind of Christ. We don’t have the spirit of God. Another way to say the Holy Spirit is the spirit of holiness: It’s something that we don’t possess as a church and as a culture, and so those are the things that we need to get if we’re ever going to fix these issues. Otherwise, we’ll keep throwing money at it, and it will not help a bit. But, ultimately, the root of the issue will remain unchecked.

What would that look like in the church?
What would that look like in the church? I have this dream of there being this massive men’s revival. I remember seeing videos and hearing stories of these old-time healing revivals, Oral Roberts and stuff, people would come (to the revival) in their hospital beds and be radically healed. They would stand up, leave the hospital bed, leave the wheel chair, leave the crutches, braces, and things — leave these at the front of the alter, and say, “I don’t need these anymore.” They had these rooms, piled to the ceiling, full of old medical equipment that people needed before they got touched by Jesus and healed.

I see there being this massive revival in the next few years, of men in the church being willing to address this issue, even at the expense of their own relevance. Instead of those rooms being full of crutches and wheelchairs, I see alters being full of laptops and videos and magazines and cell phones and men saying, “I’m going to be free, no matter what the cost. No compromise anymore. I’m not going to play around with this thing and pretend like I got it under control because it’s been, like, two weeks for me.” I’m gonna say, “Jesus, you can have it all.” And I’m willing to slam that door shut so that even if I have a moment of weakness it’s not even available to me. That’s the dream, these men taking a step to humble themselves, publicly, and getting together with each other and saying, “I’m gonna hold you accountable in this. We’re gonna link arms, and we’re gonna walk it out together.”

That’s where it starts. And then, I think after that, marriages are going to start thriving. Divorce rates are gonna plummet in the church. That even kids in the church, they’re not gonna find their dad’s porn stash on their computer or in his underwear drawer. These kids are gonna find their dad’s prayer journal. Instead of walking in on their dad looking at porn or cheating on their mom, they’re going to walk in on their dad on his face, crying out to God for the sake of his family. And then the next generation is going to be transformed by seeing the revival that’s going to take root in their heart. It’s going to be something that is not foreign to them. They won’t have to be told after they become adults; they’re going to grow up in this culture. Really, I think it starts with widespread repentance. Widespread conviction. I think that comes initially by the heads of households humbling themselves and turning from their wicked ways, seeking God. And then God, hearing their prayers and turning, healing their land.

For Today's Mattie Montgomery in 2014, Photo by Brooke Long

For Today’s Mattie Montgomery in 2014, Photo by Brooke Long

Can we go a little deeper on that?
Sure!

There are some people who would say that the last part of what you just said is what facilitates the negative of the first part; that the male headship idea facilitates the porn and objectification of women. That those two things go together. How would you respond to that?
I would say that headship, as the head of a household is a man (or is a husband, father) is not an issue of control. This is the big misunderstanding of the church, for people on both sides of the debate. They think that headship means control, and it doesn’t at all. It means accountability. I run a business at home. And if something goes wrong in the business, there’s one guy who’s gonna get it from me. I’m not going to go around yelling at everybody; there’s one guy and he holds the authority. It doesn’t mean that I like him anymore than anybody else or that I trust him anymore than anybody else, it just means that because he’s the head of the office, he is accountable for what happens in that office.

That’s why when Eve ate from the tree, God didn’t come in the garden looking for Eve — He didn’t even ask her the question. He came looking for Adam. It’s because Adam is the head. That means Adam was responsible. He was accountable. It means that we, as husbands, don’t get the luxury of ever washing our hands and saying, “It’s her fault. She did it.” I don’t ever get that luxury. Even if I stay faithful to God, but my wife decided she’s not a Christian anymore and became an alcoholic and left me, I would have to answer to God for what happened in my household.

Now, again, that doesn’t mean control. That means it is my responsibility to serve her, to love her, to encourage her and to equip her so well that she flourishes in her walk with God and so that she flourishes in her life. I am accountable to serve my wife, to lower myself daily, to humble myself, to make sure she’s not stressed about money, to make sure she’s not being devastated by the ever-shifting standards of culture. It’s my job as a husband to serve my wife relentlessly. And from that place, to help position her to succeed in her pursuit of Jesus.

I don’t think that headship means control at all. I don’t think that headship means domination. I think that headship means accountability. It means that I, as a husband, have to take responsibility for the well-being of my wife and the well-being of my kids. That doesn’t mean I have to make them do anything, but that I have to continually present them with opportunity after opportunity after opportunity to flourish in all aspects of their life. And if they don’t flourish, then I have to be responsible for that. And me and God have to hammer that out together.

For Today Photo by Jim Layton

What does that mean for their responsibility?
Well, like I just said, I can give her opportunity after opportunity after opportunity, and that means that in the same way I am constantly humbling myself to elevate my wife, she is constantly humbling herself to elevate and support me. That looks like mutual submission. Like when you asked me what I’m doing next, what I said — what it really boils down to — is, “I don’t know; I’m gonna have to ask my wife.” ‘Cause I’m not going without her. And if it’s not on her heart, I’m not going to waste my time with it, because we’re going together.

So, does that mean that she is the head of the household? No. But what it does mean is that she carries weight and that she carries authority. The fact that I’m the head of the household doesn’t mean that what I say goes, it means I am responsible to catch her heart and to help serve her heart. I think it’s really a two-way street, and, like the Bible says, we both are to serve each other and lay down our lives for each other. And to honor each other and to humble ourselves for the sake of the other constantly. That’s still a process we’re learning to do better. I think that’s the way the Bible has laid it out: that I’m supposed to love my wife, by laying myself down for her the same way that Jesus laid himself down for the church. And that does not look like control or domination.

“I’m not gonna throw out a truth, a biblical truth, just because some people pervert it. People love to twist God’s word, and they love to misinterpret God’s heart to serve their own agenda.”

Or objectification?
Right. Not at all. People who are thinking that headship fuels this porn thing? I think that we need to be honest about what leadership means. It means that I may not be — it means I am accountable to God for the way I treat my wife and the way I love my wife, and that is a very serious thing. And if I don’t serve my wife, if I don’t humble myself in the presence of my wife, that means that I have to answer to God for that, and that’s pretty serious.

What do you say to the men who hide behind the headship model to perpetuate abuse or to maintain a system of power and objectification?
Oh, I think that they’re disgusting. I think they should come talk to me in person. If they got a problem submitting to God, serving their wife, they better come talk to me. Let me lay hands on them.

(Laughs)
(Laughs)
Here’s the reality, man. I’m not gonna throw out a truth, a biblical truth, just because some people pervert it. People love to twist God’s word, and they love to misinterpret God’s heart to serve their own agenda. And that doesn’t make God wrong. It doesn’t make God’s word irrelevant. It makes people sinful.

Or it reveals their sinfulness.
Right. It means that people are sinful. And that’s no secret. I’m not going to overcompensate for this thing by saying that I think the whole idea of man being the head of the household is bad and that we need to do away with it. That’s a biblical concept. It’s right, but we need to do it in the right way. We need to apply it in the right way. Men try to twist that thing to try to serve their own need for control.

I think those men need to meet Jesus. For real. I think those men need to have a revelation of the love of Jesus. For real. And to understand what Jesus did on the last supper when he says, “All authority on heaven and earth is given to me.” And then He bends down and He gets down on His knees and He washes the disciples’ feet. That’s what real, biblical leaders do.

If you are going to be the head of your household, that’s what it’s going to look like. That’s how I proposed to my wife. I got down on both knees, and I washed her feet, and I said, “I want to spend the rest of my life serving you.” And that was the question I asked her; not, “Will you marry me?” but, “Will you give me the honor of serving you?” Needless to say, she said yes.

For Today’s “Saul of Tarsus,” from their 2009 album Portraits released by Facedown Records

I feel like that worked well (laughs).
(Laughs)

You touch on the controversy surrounding homosexuality and Mike’s statements in the book. How does that affect you today?
(Editor’s Note: Former For Today guitarist Mike Reynolds left the band in 2013 after posting controversial tweets regarding the morality of homosexuality. It is unclear whether the departure was related to the tweets.) I think one of the first things God dealt with me about was my sexuality and the way I expressed the desires of my flesh. I think that, if you’re gonna follow Jesus, you’ve got to bring every aspect of your life to the alter. You’ve got to bring every aspect of your life to the cross to be crucified so that Christ can live in you. That’s how it works. For any person, gay or straight, to think, “Well, I’m going to follow Jesus, but I’m gonna hold onto my sexuality, I’m gonna hold on to the natural desires that I have,” for whatever type of person that is — male or female, fat, skinny, blonde, brunette, black, white, whatever kind of person you are sexually attracted to — for you to think you can maintain your sexuality or that you can maintain your sexual urges the way they are, and say that “I’m gonna bring my life to Jesus, but this part I’m going to keep to myself,” is an insane thought.

We don’t get to do that. If you’re going to follow Jesus, the first thing you’re going to do is come to the cross. You’re gonna lay down your whole life. Every aspect of it. The way you spend your money, the way you spend your time, the food you eat, the relationships you have, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the people you have sex with. Everything about you has to be brought to God with an open hand, saying, “You can take it or leave it. It’s all yours, Jesus.” And if you’re unwilling to do that — I don’t care if you’re gay or straight — there’s a problem. What you’re doing is not following Jesus; you’re trying to make Jesus follow you. And He doesn’t do that.

I think we’ve done a real disservice to the church, alienating, and in the way that we’ve alienated that particular group of people, homosexual and transgendered people. I think it sucks, and I feel really bad about it. And so, in my life, I’m going to be going after Jesus with everything that I have. And if somebody comes to me and they are somebody who’s attracted to people of the same sex and they want to run after Jesus with me, the door’s always open. If they’re a transgendered person and they want to run after Jesus with me, with everything in them, the door’s always open. I don’t care where you came from, I don’t care what you’re walking through, I don’t care what kind of desires you face or deal with. But we are, together, going to daily pick up our cross and follow him, and we’re going to honor God with our lives. That’s what I’m doing in life.

And, if anybody, with any background, lifestyle or orientation wants to do that, then the door’s always open.

Mattie Montgomery – For Today Farewell was posted on February 9, 2017 for HM Magazine and authored by .