When Pastor Louie Giglio came under fire for a 54-minute sermon titled, "In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality" that he preached nearly 20 years ago after it was announced that he would say the prayer at President Barack Obama's second inauguration, he withdrew his acceptance, saying that his participation would be "dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration."
For Today guitarist Mike Reynolds took to his Twitter account in support of Pastor Giglio and his own beliefs about homosexuality. In a series of five posts, Reynolds said, "There IS a state church being formed, there is going to be an exclusive acceptance of preachers who advocate the LGBT. Don't be deceived, homosexuality is a sin. This sin with all other sins is what Jesus died for. He conquered so that we would be free. No such thing as a gay Christian, the same as there is no such thing as a Christian who loves his sin. Don't be fooled by the formation of a state church as though the government is being converted, they only use the name of Jesus for their progressive liberal agenda. If you are a Christian then separate yourself from this civil religion that advocates sin. Be true to God. He followed that by saying "@louiegiglio my prayers are with you, your family, and ministry. I am encouraged to see Matthew 5:10-12, Jesus' every word is true."
In the time it took to click submit, Mike Reynolds came under as much fire as Louie Giglio. Internet sites like punknews.org called his comments "unambiguously homophobic and intolerant opinions" and their readers trashed him, Christianity, the Bible... The number of times his name was tagged on tumblr.com was over 150 and while quite a few posts were in support of him and his statements, many more were not. Posts referring to his "ignorant statements," "that ____ty mall-core band and their idiotic beliefs," his band being "despicable" and calling him a "false prophet" who has a "superstition" as a God were more commonplace.
The next day, it was announced that Mike was leaving For Today. While he posted a long statement offering clarity to his twitter remarks on his Facebook, he did not mention leaving the band. The official statement said that he had "decided that now is the time for he and his wife to put their plans in motion to enroll in bible college, and to begin working toward full-time missions work in the Middle East." Most websites questioned the timing. For Today's lead singer, Mattie Montgomery, issued an apology video. In a little over two and a half minutes, Montgomery says he is sorry six times, asks fans who were hurt by the comments to call him and ends with "Thank you guys. I love you and I'm on your side."
As the mother of one of their 13-year-old fans, as a pastor and as a Christian music journalist, I am left with many questions...
- Who's "side" is Mattie Montgomery on? If the answer is that of Christians who believe we should follow Jesus' commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves, then how is sharing something the Bible says not loving? When a parent tells the child that they love not to go outside in the winter without a jacket so they don't get sick, isn't that love? When a person tells the neighbor next door that it's not safe to leave their doors unlocked 24/7 because they become targets for robbery, isn't that love? So why is sharing that the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin not love?
- Why is it so surprising and "wrong" for a Christian man in a Christian band to publicly say that he thinks homosexuality is a sin?
- Doesn't Matthew 5:14 call us to live our faith out loud? How can we be "the light of the world," and really shine if we keep the unpopular opinions to ourselves out of fear that someone will call us names?
- Why is the band's lead singer publicly apologizing because a band member has a faith-based opinion that some find offensive? I have to wonder if Mike Reynolds had spoken out about adultery or premarital sex if a. it would have made headlines and b. the band would have felt the need to apologize.
- Was the sudden departure of Mike Reynolds and subsequent video apology an attempt at damage control?
- Is For Today standing on faith in Jesus and telling the world the whole story or are they only sharing the parts that are acceptable to those who don't believe? Do they represent the Gospel found in the Bible or the Gospel of Burger King where you "have it your way?"
- Where are the Christian ministers who should be standing with Mike Reynolds and saying, "Yes, he is getting that from the Holy Bible?" Mainstream artists aren't holding back their condemnation of him for his beliefs. Where are the Christian artists who share them?
While I am not a huge fan of metalcore (I don't get the screaming parts at all), I have always had mad respect for For Today because of their no fear attitude where their faith is concerned. In the list of the Top Christian Metal Bands, I called them "one of the most outspoken bands you will find on the metal scene where faith is concerned, flat out calling their music 'their mission.'" Today, sadly, I find myself questioning that. Mattie Montgomery's video didn't mention whether the band believes as Reynolds does, that homosexuality is a sin, if they believe that repentance is required for all sins except homosexual acts or if they believe that Jesus dying on the cross means that people can sleep with whoever they want to and it's all covered and no longer sin at all. While yes, they're musicians, not preachers, when he opened the door by making and posting the apology video, in my mind, he stepped onto the stage and a stand for one side or the other was required. In the past, the band has said that they intend "to keep going until "the name of Christ is proclaimed to the entire world" and while that is wonderful, it takes more than just sharing His name to be a mission. James 2:19 tells us that even demons know who Jesus is.
For me, as harsh as this may sound, I really could care less who someone is sleeping with as long as they're not trying to sleep with me or my husband. To me, someone's choice of sexual partner is between them, the person they're sleeping with and God (and I'm not any of the three). However, I wouldn't be much of a pastor, a Christian or a person in general if I didn't point out that the Bible says there will be eternal repercussions for sin (any sin) that we don't repent of and ask forgiveness over. That's not about picking on gay people, being homophobic or being judgmental. The Bible specifically calls out fornicators, adulterers and homosexuals. I didn't write it or inspire it to be written any more than Mike Reynolds did - but I can't say I love my neighbor if I just ignore that it's there because someone may not like it. As I said when I wrote about Jennifer Knapp coming out, "Loving people despite their sin doesn't mean accepting their sin."
My 13-year-old daughter (the big metalcore fan in the family) shared her thoughts with me and it was one of those "out of the mouths of babes" moments. She said that she was disappointed in the band for "leaving Mike hanging" and not "having his back" since he has "the right to say what he believes." She finished by saying that she has some friends who are LGBT and that she loves them enough to tell them the truth about what the Bible says because "To say 'Oh no, God doesn't care who you give your body to as long as the popular kids think it's ok' would not be loving them at all!"