The Time to Refine Our Focus

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.

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  1. David Cole
    June 30, 2015 at 11:13 am

    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
    June 30, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    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.

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