“I grew up marching in gay pride parades.”
Caleb Kaltenbach‘s parents divorced when he was young. His mother and father independently came out as gay. In the months and years following, his mother became an active member of the gay community and took Caleb along to marches and meetings. This practice became a normal part of Caleb’s upbringing.
“I remember at one of the gay pride parades my mom took me to, at the end of it there were all these Christians holding up signs saying ‘God hates you,’ and ‘There’s no room for you in the kingdom.’ And if it wasn’t offensive enough, they were throwing water and urine on people.”
Caleb turned to his mom and asked why they were acting this way. He never forgot her response.
“Well, Caleb, they’re Christians. And Christians hate gay people.”
Caleb carried bitterness and anger against Christians for the next several years. When he reached high school, he joined a Bible study, but not for the reason you’d expect.
“My idea was I would go into this Bible study and I would pretend to be a Christian… I would learn about the faith and then I would dismantle the faith. Because I was so mad at the street corner people. All Christians were like that in my mind.”
God worked in Caleb’s heart in spite of his anger.
“I kept going back to learn, to dis-prove. But the more that I studied Jesus, the more that I saw that He was not like the street corner people. The more that I saw that this Man was very kind and gentle and yet He stood for truth. And I found that instead of me disproving the Bible, the Bible – and this man Jesus – was actually disproving my life and my worldview.”
He suggests we take time to love as we live out our faith. We need to access how we are loving others, and what messages we are sending out from the street corners.
“I think we do a pretty good job on Facebook. We do a pretty good job on Twitter and Instagram… Those are the new street corners.”
When we can love people who aren’t walking with Christ, we mirror the same love and grace that was shown to us. We can choose to honor people by hearing their story, walking with them, speaking the truth when God prompts us, and letting them see Christ in us.
Featured Songs: Jesus We Love You by Bethel Church Music; Come As You Are by David Crowder; Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus by Nichole Nordeman