In an amazing story of redemption, a former Atheist who was raised by gay parents and attended gay parades, is now an influential pastor who seeks to minister to those struggling with same-sex attraction and encourage them to see Christ as their main identity.
Caleb Kaltenbach, the pastor of Discovery Church in Simi Valley, California and author of the book “Messy Grace”, shared his inspiring testimony during a podcast interview with The Church Boys.
When he was just two years old, Kaltenbach’s university-professor parents divorced and both entered the homosexual lifestyle. While his father remained “closeted” for many years, his lesbian mom and her partner took him to gay pride parades, LGBT clubs, parties and campouts.
“Mom was a political activist,” he said, recalling how, at gay pride parades, “Christian” demonstrators would spray homosexual marchers with water and urine and carry signs emblazoned with phrases like “Jesus has no room for you” or “God hates you.”
“I looked at my mom. I was in elementary school and I still remember these words. I said, ‘Mom, why are they acting like this?'” Kaltenbach said. “And she said, ‘Well Caleb, they’re Christians. Christians don’t like people who are different from them.'”
A few years later, a friend invited him to a Bible Study – and he accepted, hoping to “pretend to be a Christian, learn about Christianity, and dismantle their arguments.”
“I grew up in high school hating Christians, and so I decided that I wanted to attack Christianity,” he said.
However, God had other plans for him. After attending the Bible study and meeting several Christians, Kaltenbach discovered that Jesus was actually loving and kind, and was completely different from the “Christians” who threw urine on him in the past, according to Gospel Herald.
“Jesus definitely has standards that he calls us to for holy living, but as far as the way that I had seen people in my mom’s community treated, there was truth but no grace, love, compassion,” he said. “So, I just saw Jesus in a different light. I gave my life to the Lord.”
Although Kaltenbach’s parents were upset to hear he had become a Christian, they were livid when he told them that his views on sexuality had changed and that he “didn’t believe that same-sex relationships were part of God’s plan.”
Despite the backlash he received for his faith, Kaltenbach stood firm, and after high school. decided to attend Ozark Christian College and later, Talbot Seminary in La Mirada, California. In Southern California, he served on the staff at Shepherd of the Hills Church for 11 years.
A few years later, he accepted a call as senior pastor of a church in Dallas, and at that time, something amazing happened: both his parents independently made decisions to move to Dallas and began attending his church.
“What was even more incredible was that as time went on some church members were nicer to my parents than I was,” he said.
After three years of serving in Dallas, he felt called to move back to Southern California to lead Discovery Church in Simi Valley. Two weeks before he left, both of his parents gave their lives to the Lord: “I was floored … how did this happen? To this day, I’m still not sure. I do believe my parents are saved.”
Today, Kaltenbach works to minister to those who may feel alienated from the Christian community due to past experiences: “I believe any expression of sexuality outside of heterosexual marriage is sinful,” he said of how he interacts with the LGBT community, “but I don’t believe God called me to make gay people straight.”
“I completely concur that God designed sexuality to be between a man and a woman, but that’s not the first thing I talk about with somebody that’s gay,” he continued. “I want to get to know them as a person, to build a friendship.”
“I want to help them see Christ as their main identity. When they see Christ as their main identity, there is margin for discussion of holy living.”