When Caleb Kaltenbach was two years old, both his mother and father came out as gay, then got a divorce. Growing up, he absorbed their antagonism toward Christians, but went on to embrace Christianity as a teenager. In Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction (WaterBrook Press), Kaltenbach, a pastor in Southern California, charts the path to reconciling with his parents, who are now both believers. CT assistant editor Morgan Lee spoke with Kaltenbach about his experiences ministering to people with same-sex attraction.
Where did your youthful hatred of Christians come from?
My mom and her partner were active in gay-rights organizations. They took me to gay clubs, parties, and campouts. I marched in gay pride parades and went to political events. That was just my life.
I hated Christians because I saw how they treated gay people. At the end of one parade, I saw signs saying, “God hates you.” Protesters were spraying water and urine on people. I asked my mom, “Why are they acting that way?” She said, “Caleb, they’re Christians, and Christians hate gay people.”
My dad and I sometimes attended an Episcopal church, but it didn’t teach me much about God. I was an altar boy but fell asleep during most services. I learned that evangelicals were people who wouldn’t like you if you weren’t a white Republican.
How were you able to repair the relationship with your parents?
After I came to Christ, my parents were irate. My dad grounded me. He told me I was basically disowning him. My mom wouldn’t talk to me for months. When I told them I believed that God intended sexual intimacy only for one man and ...1