12 June, 2021

The Time to Refine Our Focus

by | 30 June, 2015 | 2 comments

By Mark A. Taylor

The Internet is buzzing with reactions to last week”s Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. Advocates are adding the #LoveWins hashtag to every tweet, and Christian leaders are urging the church not to be discouraged in the face of what many view as a terrible loss.

Caleb Kaltenbach

Caleb Kaltenbach

Amid all the chatter, Caleb Kaltenbach”s perspective offers a voice as refreshing as it is calm.

“Some say this is the defining issue of the day,” he said when I interviewed him last week at the North American Christian Convention. “But I believe the church is getting it wrong.” We should focus on identity before we address behavior, Kaltenbach believes. “We must point people to define themselves by Jesus and not their sexuality,” he said.

Kaltenbach, whose new book, Messy Grace, will be released in October, writes from a unique perspective. His parents divorced when he was 2 years old, and each entered the gay lifestyle. Kaltenbach grew up surrounded by his mother”s friends and activities in the gay community and learned to believe what she repeatedly told him: “Christians hate gays.”

When he was 16 he began attending a Bible study to disprove Christianity, but instead became a Christian himself. Soon he had committed himself to a lifetime of vocational Christian service, but he”s never forgotten the pain, problems, and possibilities among the many gay people he has known.

Today, with his wife and two children, he serves as pastor with Discovery Church in Simi Valley, California. “We want to be known as a church that struggles with the tension between grace and truth,” he said. “We can stick to our theological convictions and still be loving.”

He quoted Andy Stanley, who says, “Some churches like to make points. It”s easier to make a point than to make a difference. It”s easier to take a firm stand than to have a conversation.”

Perhaps the Supreme Court decision will make more Christians willing to have conversations with gay people, embracing, as Kaltenbach says, the difference between acceptance and approval.

It”s not that the world is changing, he says. “The world has already changed.” We can”t go back, but we can go forward, convincing practicing homosexuals””and every other kind of sinner we meet in our workplaces and neighborhoods””that Christians do not hate them.

Our focus is not on any particular human failing. Kaltenbach reminds us that in our time, as in every age, Jesus is the issue of the day. But perhaps now, as never before in our lifetimes, we have new responsibility as well as opportunity to lift him up and demonstrate him well.

Watch the full interview with Caleb Kaltenbach by clicking here.

2 Comments

  1. David Cole

    There was an issue in the early church that had the potential to destroy it and that was the case of Ananias and Sapphira recorded for us in Acts 5. Their sin of lying to the Holy Spirit and attempting to deceive the church was serious enough for God to put them to death. Covetousness, deceit, pride and hypocrisy would have conceivably crippled the church at that early stage. Love and grace was not extended to them. The sin was nipped in the bud.

    Several issues today stand out in our culture with the potential to destroy the church and they are all connected to sexual sin; fornication, adultery, divorce, abortion and homosexuality. Abortion for the most part has not been accepted in the church but the other four and most recently homosexuality has made inroads and many churches and denominations are succumbing. Treating the sin of homosexuality with kid gloves and outstretched arms will only make the situation worse. I believe this is one of those times where love and grace cannot be extended to those who practice this sin. We need to strongly condemn the practice and preach repentance. If we let the culture redefine both morality and the gospel the death of the church is not far behind.

    To be sure the world has changed, but the church’s definition of sexual morality, sin and the gospel cannot! Time to take a firm stand people. Don’t be afraid of persecution. Don’t sit this one out in silence like we’ve done with the abortion issue. Make a noise. Preach Christlikeness. There is no reason we can’t reverse the trend to redefine sexual morality in our churches and in the culture at large. Prayer won’t get it done. Bold and firm preaching will.

  2. Ken Taylor

    David I think you forgot Matthew 12:31 that states that every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven except blasphemy of the Holy Spirit that is why God made the consequence clear. We get in trouble when we start judging which sins the church excepts and those it doesn’t.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Articles

Stories

By taking these symbols of Jesus’ body and blood, we announce we believe there really was a Jesus, and he really did die for us and carried all our sins down to a grave . . .

Documentary Highlights Christian Response to Pandemics

Southeast Christian Church’s “Purpose in Pandemics” is a documentary that follows the response of the church to pandemics throughout history. The “Purpose in Pandemics” website also includes a study guide for small groups and individuals.

Used of God

I soaked up Sam Stone’s wit and wisdom during our lunches together. Afterward, I’d take notes about our conversations. After hearing of his passing, inspired by his wordsmithing, I felt compelled to share just a small part of his story.

Sam E. Stone: ‘He Tried to Speak the Truth in Love’

In memory and appreciation of our former editor, Sam E. Stone, who died early this week, we share this 2011 column from Christian Standard’s archives in which Sam discussed four Scripture verses significant to his life.

Elliott Library ‘Cornerstone’ Laid

Three Bibles of historical significance to Cincinnati Christian University were the first books place on the shelves during relocation of the George Mark Elliott Library.

The Death of Evil

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw in minority groups’ struggles for social equality in America a parallel with Israel’s bondage in Egypt. King envisioned God’s goodness would deliver the U.S. from the evil of segregation.

Mark Scott’s Greatest Kingdom Impact

Since I first enrolled at Ozark Christian College, Mark Scott has been my kingdom hero, and I’m not the only young preacher Mark has shaped. Over his 35 years at OCC, Mark has inspired generations of students.

‘Have We Plans for 1921?’

“All the Standard asks is the opportunity to serve, and it yearns to render in 1921 the greatest, finest, and best service of its history. . . .”

CCLF Concluding Strong First Year in Greater Cincinnati

In its first full year, the Christian Church Leadership Foundation has accomplished much to ensure Christian education and resources would continue to be available to people in the Greater Cincinnati area.

News Briefs for Dec. 9

Items from Timber Lake Christian Church (Moberly, Mo.), Choateville Christian Church (Frankfort, Ky.), Johnson University, and more.

My Counsel for Young Preachers

If I were counseling an aspiring young preacher fresh out of Bible college or seminary, champing at the bit to lead in the church, I would offer these three bits of advice.

My Memories of Marshall Leggett

By Ben Merold
As I think about Marshall Leggett, who passed away on March 2 at age 90, two personal experiences keep coming to my mind . . .

Powell Quintuplets Graduating from High School

When the Powell quintuplets were born in 2001, all of Kentucky celebrated, including Southeast Christian Church, where the Powells are longtime members. Now the quints are 18 and are all headed to the same university.

Reentry: It May Be Harder Than We Think

When the COVID-19 crisis eases, I anticipate that reentry is going to be harder than some people think. Churches, especially, need to prepare for this.

Welshimer’s Advice to a Bible College Student (Circa 1931)

“Plan your work, then work your plan. Go according to schedule so far as possible. Most people are as lazy as the circumstances will permit. If you will lay out a given amount of work to do each day, you will whip yourself into line to do it.”

Stadia, MOHI Partnering to Plant Churches, Reach Kids (Plus News Briefs)

Stadia Church Planting and Missions of Hope International have announced a partnership and goal of planting 100 churches, building 100 schools, and sponsoring 100,000 children by 2030. PLUS NEWS BRIEFS . . . including a free retreat for ministers at Great Lakes Christian College.

Follow Us