Caleb Kaltenbach – Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction

messygraceCaleb Kaltenbach was raised by his mother and her partner, both lesbians. His dad and mom were divorced earlier. He was taken to gay pride parades as a child, and experienced firsthand the hatred and bitterness of some Christians toward his family.He eventually came to know Jesus Christ, was baptized and confronted his new faith position with both parents. He both became a pastor and found that his father was gay too. Things are getting messy in both personal lives as well as church.

In Messy Grace Kaltenbach explains what the Bible says on homosexuality, but from a truth as well as grace point of view. The author doesn’t dismiss arguments as cultural, only applicable to old Testament or 1st Century congregations. Neither he modified his arguments once a loved one (in Caleb’s case his father) came out of the closet. The author uses many examples from the gospels, Jesus’s parables, Paul’s and James’s letters.

Both truth and grace are radical and disturbing, God’s love and grace are greater than the right He has to condemn our sins. We may be trapped in thinking not commanded to love the people who live in a way contrary to what God says. In case you think you’re already perfect, remember that God already loved you while you were a sinner. For some Christians, it seems safer to avoid discussions on the LGBT conversation than to engage in it. Even more important than to tolerate LGBT people is to love them and accept them as people God created.

Caleb’s doesn’t stick to Rob Bell‘s “love wins” argument. Sin cannot be ignored. However we’re not commissioned to change people’s identity as being gay. For the sexual aspect, the pastor offers some viable alternatives, though these may sound painful and harsh too. You may not agree with everything Caleb Kaltenbach says. Hopefully you’ll see his heart for people on both sides of the LGBT issue. Packed with personal experiences, Messy Grace testifies the power of God in changing lives for His glory.

About the author

Caleb Kaltenbach is lead pastor at Discovery Church, Simi Valley, CA. He speaks widely on faith, reconciliation, and sexual diversity to people on all sides of the LGBT issue. Caleb attended Talbot School of Theology (Biola University) and is currently finishing his DMin at Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Amy, have two young children.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. More resources on Messy Grace can be found online at