Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Messy Grace, by Caleb Kaltenbach

I was really looking forward to reading Messy Grace.  In it, Caleb Kaltenbach tells the story of how he grew up with gay parents, very much immersed in the gay community, how he eventually came to God, and how he ended up reconciling his love for his parents with his love for Jesus with his beliefs in the Bible.  At its core, it is a book about (as the title suggests) grace, and about showing love and compassion for those folks in the LGBT community.  As Kaltenbach points out, it is a demographic that has been historically been treated poorly by many Christians, and as such they need our love and support more than ever before.  They need us to love the way Jesus loved, and Caleb Kaltenbach understands this so very well.

Unfortunately, I finished reading the book with decidedly mixed feelings.  First, it is very well-written.  He uses a warm, conversational style that is easy to read, and he allows the reader to genuinely care about his story, his family, and his past.  He also effectively delivers much of what the book promises:  a convincing argument for more compassion, more grace, and more love.

Where Mr Kaltenbach lost me was about midway through the book, when he got to the "conviction" part of the book's tagline:  "How a pastor with gay parents learned to love others without sacrificing conviction."  While I absolutely agree that we should never sacrifice our conviction, and never cease speaking the truth, the way the issue was presented in the book left no room for differences in interpretation or differences in theology.   There are many faithful, Bible-believing Christians who have found that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality in and of itself, nor do they feel that - as Kaltenbach does - that celibacy is the only right answer.   We're told that those people are simply wrong, disobeying God, and/or ignoring the truth, which is.... disappointing.  The issue is not quite as black and white as we are so often led to believe, and drawing such a hard line halts the conversation and the dialogue and the research that still so desperately needs to be had.

Still, the book was a step in the right direction, and makes an important case for offering love and grace for all of God's people, even (or especially!) when we disagree.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

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