Caleb Kaltenbach was raised by three gay parents and participated in many events within the LGBTQ community. He came to know Christ and even became a pastor, and since then, he has learned how to love others without sacrificing his convictions.

Caleb speaks to the root issue that many of our LGBTQ neighbors, family members, friends, or co-workers may be facing today.

We are dealing with an issue of identity and that is much different than a lot of the other sin issues that people deal with on an ongoing basis. That kind of requires a different strategy in dealing with it. We need intentionality.”

“I think in so many ways a lot of your friends know what you believe, they probably know where you stand, but what they really want to know is if you are going to be fully present in their lives. Are you still going to accept me for who I am? And I think acceptance is a Biblical mandate.”

He points out that acceptance and approval are not the same thing. He refers to Matthew 5:46 and Romans 12:18,

Love is not based on agreement, love is based on acceptance. When Jesus says ‘If you only love those who love you, what reward will you get?’ When Paul says, ‘As much as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone,’ they’re saying that my love and peace with another person is dependent on me, not them. God didn’t hold me responsible for what they do, God holds me responsible for me.”

Approval is throwing your support behind somebody’s life choice; somebody’s decision to be in a toxic relationship, to keep drinking, to keep making poor decisions, etc.”

“I think that we need to be accepting. That means you’re going to love that person no matter who they are and no matter what they’re doing. That’s acceptance, but that’s that doesn’t mean that you approve of the choices are making.”

The difficulty with this approach, Caleb adds, is that so many people make the mistake of equating approval and agreement. He circles back to the identity issue.

“If you’ve tied that so much to your identity, then anybody who disagrees with you – in your eyes – will be somebody who has rejected you, and that’s just not the case. They even have people in their life that they love and have accepted but don’t agree with.”

“The big issue is identity. As a matter of fact, I think that’s the biggest issue in our culture right now.”

Caleb reminds us that there is a way to accept someone for who they are, without approving their life choices. It’s important to make that distinction as we seek to reach out to the LGBTQ community with the love of Christ.

Caleb Kaltenbach is a pastor who speaks widely on issues of faith, reconciliation, and sexual diversity. Caleb is a graduate of Talbot School of Theology (Biola University) and received his doctorate from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Amy, have two young children and reside in southern California.

Identity and the LGBTQ community