CNLP 033: Growing Up With Gay Parents—An Interview with Caleb Kaltenbach

Caleb Kaltenbach has an incredible story.

Born to parents who soon divorced to pursue gay relationships, Caleb grew up to become a Christian and then a pastor, much to the alarm of his parents.

Caleb shares his honest, gutwrenching story of confusion, hope and reconcilliation with his mom, his dad and their partners.

Welcome to Episode 33 of the Podcast.

caleb_kaltenbach

Guest Links

Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction – Available October 20, 2015!

MessyGraceBook.com

Caleb Kaltenbach on Twitter

Caleb Kaltenbach on Facebook

Discovery Church

Links Mentioned

The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex is too Important to Define Who We Are by Jenell Williams Paris

Kara Powell; Episode 4

Gene Appel at East Side Christian Church

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

Conversation about homosexuality in the church can be uncomfortable, and as a pastor with gay parents, Caleb Kaltenbach has felt the tension within each community. Here’s how you can get started with bridging the gap between each side:

  1. Understand the difference between acceptance and approval. When someone we love comes out to us, it doesn’t mean we change our relationship. Thank them for allowing you to come into this season of their life and trusting you. That doesn’t mean you have to approve of the behavior. Sexuality is between a man and a woman; it’s not the only thing that defines them, and that’s where the line is drawn. We can love the person, but we don’t have to approve of what happens.
  2. Invite the conversation into church. Christians in the church think they have to “get their act together” and have to play a certain part. But Caleb says that when we don’t allow messy conversations in churches, we create sanctuary for fake people. Start engaging with your leadership team, and let the conversation work through the entire church. Keep communication open and affirming, and talk to other churches about what the conversation looks like in their ministries. Be honest and allow people to feel like they belong before they believe.
  3. Create a safe environment. Discussion of sexuality opens up vast vulnerabilities on both sides, and it’s not a black or white issue. It was difficult for Caleb when he “came out as a Christian” to his gay parents, but it encouraged him to show the same love and compassion he always had for them. “I had to spend so much time treating them well, loving them, even when they came at me with patronizing Bible questions. I wanted to build that trust again so they could see that nothing really had changed,” he said. You can apply the same principles in your church as you open up the conversation with others. Invite others out to dinner, and get to know them. Put a face to the individual instead of looking at them by just their sexuality.

 

Quotes from Caleb

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Next Episode: Wayne Cordova

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In the meantime, got a question?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

As I said on the podcast, given the sensitive and important nature of the conversation around same sex relationships and the church, I will be watching comments carefully. Any inflammatory or mean-spirited comments will be deleted.

That said, I’d love to hear from you! The conversation is so important.

7 Comments

  1. Kim Borchers on January 31, 2018 at 10:11 am

    I’m a relatively new listener to your podcast and was initially attracted by the leadership discussions that you provide. I stumbled across this particular podcast early one morning and was compelled to listen because of my brother who is in the latter stages of AIDS. I hesitated to respond but my heart has been a bit uneasy since I listened so I feel lead to make a few comments.

    Let me first say that I’m so thankful that despite some negative experiences from Christians in Caleb’s life, he and his family were able to come the to the saving and healing grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That tells me that while some Christians missed the mark others were able to plant, water and reap. To God be the glory!

    Homosexuality is a confusing sin and for most of us in the church, we don’t understand it because we can’t relate to those types of temptations. I think that is why the Christian response is sometimes the way it is. I’m not making excuses but I can understand it. While I completely agree that the church should welcome all people, we should never hesitate in preaching the TRUTH of the gospel in churches on this topic. I’ve heard your program say that the church needs to work on sharing what we are “for” versus what we are “against” and I completely agree. God not only desires but commands us to love him with all our hearts, souls and minds and that can only be accomplished through submitting ourselves completely to his will and that includes our sexual desires. God is “for” that. The church must draw a line of clear distinction on premarital sex, infidelity, homosexuality, pornography and the list goes on. There should never be a question mark from anyone sitting in a church pew on where God stands on any of these issues. While one should never feel uncomfortable at the hands of a person in the church, the Holy Spirit will cause discomfort because of the conviction that comes to a heart because of un-confessed sin. That type of discomfort is what leads people to repentance. That is part of the church’s role.

    I felt the discussion with Caleb focused on “comfort” of people in the church and really missed the mark on ensuring that Truth must never be left out of this equation. We now have individuals calling themselves “gay” Christians. That’s like calling yourself a “pre-marital sex” Christian. I’m in complete agreement that the church needs be talking about these issues but we must do it in a way that leads to clarity and not confusion for those in the pew. We need to be teaching that struggling with a temptation is not the same as embracing and living it out.

    Let me stress because of my brother’s situation I have a real heart for the homosexual. My daughter and I are very active in the theatre and we have many friends who are in this lifestyle. We love them, we laugh with them, we break bread with them and we share Jesus with them. While they know we do not condone their life choices, they do know that at anytime if they needed something we are there for them. Because of our mutual respect for each other, they would never ask us to a gay marriage ceremony. That action is based off the mutual understanding that my faith can’t condone gay marriage. As a Christian, we must ensure that we don’t blur the lines for not only the practicing homosexual but others who are watching our actions.

    Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts.

  2. acb4values on October 15, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    I really appreciate this interview as I’m always looking for how to have grace without compromising truth. What did really impact me is the fact that they identify as homosexuals not just because of intimacy, but for community. I knew that, but to hear it like that really helped me understand it more. These are very complex issues we are dealing with, and we do have to communicate within the church.

    While I know that there were terrible things happening in the 80’s, and still going on today…there was one untruth in this interview. I think Christians acted the way they did toward homosexuals because of fear and ignorance (some may have put out intentional lies, but much was unknown and not understood about AIDS). We must combat the lies and ignorance on both sides!! First of all, to say that studies Caleb saw show that more heterosexuals have aids than homosexuals is true, but not the whole truth. To just look at a study directly you would see that Caleb is right that more heterosexuals have aids. Most of those had it because of promiscuous behaviors, drug use, and a small portion had it because of blood transfusions. This was seen as a deadly disease that was very contagious, but many were very ignorant about how it was contracted. The Christians and others reacted out of fear, but some with the disease (both homosexuals and heterosexuals) were being very promiscuous and some even intentionally infecting others. This was a very fear driven and hate driven disease on both sides, so there are many fingers that need to be pointing in many directions.

    Second, you can’t look at the studies directly with the numbers as of course there are more heterosexuals with aids than homosexuals, because there are substantially more heterosexuals. We must recognize that we had just come out of the sexual revolution in the 80’s, but most of all the fact is there are more heterosexuals than there are homosexuals. If you look at the numbers per capita though there are more homosexuals that have contracted the disease than there are heterosexuals. When the majority of any group of people contract a certain disease there should be concern!! When the average lifespan of a certain group of people is reduced by 20 years that is cause for concern as well, but this is called bigotry to even tell the truth.

    We must tell the truth, as it’s always part of GRACE and TRUTH!! You spoke about the woman at the well, and that Jesus rightly spoke the truth that she had 5 husbands and the one she was living with was not her husband. He didn’t placate her with a lie or half truth!! We have to have balance, and many Christians back down from the truth because of fear of being called a bigot! How is it loving to downplay the truth of the statistics? The truth of God’s Word should not be downplayed, but neither should the truth of what this lifestyle does to people. How does that help people?

  3. Annett Davis on May 19, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    What a phenomenal interview!!! Thanks for sharing! 🙂 I’m passing it along. I can’t wait for his book.

  4. taruns on April 28, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Hi Carey,

    I just wanted to say how helpful and insightful I found your conversation with Caleb Kaltenbach this work. I particularly enjoyed hearing you talk about the power dynamics of human sexuality. In my post grad studies I did a lot of research into the OT passages on same sex relationships and found that in the ancient world power and dominance of another human being was the primary goal of the sex described in these OT contexts and passages like Genesis 19 and Leviticus 20:13 are designed primarily to express a divine opposition to the abuse and dominance of the weak and vulnerable rather than a just narrow commentary of modern homosexuality. And as you correctly observed, power and control in sex also extends to the heterosexual world, something we should be quick to note in our conversations on sexuality.

    As an assistant pastor navigating ministry in a post-christian context I am so grateful for your podcast and the resource it provides to Leadership. Thank you!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on May 4, 2015 at 5:33 am

      Taruns…thank you for this. Really appreciated your informed perspective and the encouragement. It’s amazing how much goes back to Genesis 3…’and your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.’ The dynamic between people hasn’t changed much (SSA or otherwise). Thank you!

      • taruns on May 4, 2015 at 6:02 am

        No Problem, thank you for what you do it is such a blessing to my journey. If you felt inclined I would love to share some of my writing with you on this topic and get your perspective. Thanks again.
        Regards
        Tarun

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