In Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others without Sacrificing Conviction Kaltenbach shares his experiences of growing up attending Lesbian parties, Gay Pride parades, and watching a friend from one of his mother’s parties die from AIDS. With two parents who were antagonistic towards Christianity, the story of how the author came to Christ and eventually became a pastor is an incredible lesson in why we should learn to love like Jesus did and to share the good news with others even when it seems that it might be a waste of time. Kaltenbach is fairly candid about the fact that he went to that first bible study, not because of any real desire to learn about Jesus, but, as so often seems to happen, to prove that Christianity was not in his future.
Along the way something happened that changed his mind and his heart, and in the process he learned several lessons, some of which he shares in this book.
Particularly heart-breaking are the accounts of how he and his mother and her partner were treated by Christians. Love was certainly not a factor in some of those interactions. When he told the story of how after his mother visited the church where he was pastoring and the following Sunday he was met by the elders with the admonition that he was never to bring “that kind of people” to the church again, I wanted to cry.
This is Kaltenbach’s story of growing up immersed in the LGBT community, and it’s the story of his conversion, but it’s also a text book of how the church should be responding to the cultural shift over the past 60 years, and especially in light of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Same Sex Marriage as opposed to the Biblical definition of marriage as something that happens between a man and a woman.
Nor is this a suggestion that we just open our arms to everyone and love them without sharing biblical principles. Kaltenbach offers several suggestions grounded in scripture for why we should love sinners (and we’re all sinners, regardless of which community we belong to) but like Jesus we should encourage them to repent and leave the life of sin behind. He presents some of the justifications that he has heard concerning the relationship between the Bible and LGBT activity, and shares how he has responded.
It must have been cathartic for the author to write this book detailing his personal journey, but it is also a wake-up call for the church. Christians need to respond in love to changing cultural values rather than react in hate, disgust and loathing. Kaltenbach offers a way to reach out in love (after all, that member of the LGBT community is still a member of your family, a friend, someone you love) without compromising biblical standards.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for the review.
I highly recommend it. 5/5