Like many guys who have achieved their Eagle Scout and others who care about the Boy Scout program, I’ve been watching the recent debate over homosexual leadership with some sense of emotion. Just yesterday the National BSA postponed making their decision regarding the ban for reasons we can only speculate on. What many people don’t realize is that lifting such a ban will more than likely destroy the American Scouting program which has been a huge building block in society for over 100 years. According to the LGBT community, the big push to lift this ban on homosexual leadership is based in a belief that this is really racial and therefore a civil rights issue. That sounds like a good and valid question until you realize that we are talking about a preference or propensity toward a behavior and not a skin pigment or ethnic group.
Do some men and women feel a same sex attraction? I believe so. However, that is not the fundamental question. The real issue is whether or not it’s right to simply act out what we feel. Consider a heterosexual man who is married, but yet still feels a propensity toward pornography and having sexual affairs on business trips. This man may have an overabundance of testosterone; he may have been raised by an abusive father, or any number of other issues. However, most of us would still conclude that he needs to get help, grow up, and be faithful to his wife. In other words, we would not excuse his actions as simply being the way he is and we would certainly not normalize those actions. We would expect and hope for change.
This is so much more so in Christ. Jesus not only died on the Cross and rose from the grave for the forgiveness of our sins, but to make us knew creatures in him. In fact, this transformation is so radical that Jesus referred to it as being “born again” in John chapter three. In other words, we don’t have to live in bondage to our fleshly desires like mere animals.
Yes, once a person comes into Christ they still deal with the temptations of the sinful nature, which to some degree we will all wrestle with until we cross into the other side of eternity. On this side though, we are exhorted “put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature” rather than give into it. In other words, we have a choice as to whether we are going to live a life of sin or holiness. This issue of homosexuality is no different than any other sin temptation for mankind. While we are on this side of eternity, we will all (self included) wrestle with a propensity toward sin. The real question though is one of either submitting to the sinful nature which will perish or to the Spirit of God.
So the challenge for all of us no matter what the sin propensity might be is to daily deny ourselves the gratification of the flesh for a higher calling of abiding with Christ in the present and looking forward to the future. While this may not be the typical lifestyle in America, it is what it looks like to live in the present reality of the Kingdom of Heaven. Indeed the real question is not just for the Scouts, but for all of us. If you’re a Christ follower in America, how will you live contrary to culture today?
This question should not even arise as the Boy Scouts were supposed to teach morals, self-discipline, and character. If they are having debates of this matter, where are the morals, what happens to self-discipline, and will anyone find good character in the boy scout uniform? Then, again, would they discontinue calling it “boy” scouts?
Class of 81 on my Eagle. I agree with all you said. Duty to God, and Morally Straight as part of the Scout Oath, A Scout is Reverent as the 12th point of the Law, which takes care of the other 11.
I think National has lost their minds, and if they approve this, it won’t end there either. If they fold, I fear Scouting as we know it ends then.
ASM 1985-93 2008- Present
Tiger Leader 2003
CM 2004 – 2009
Woodbadge SR 121
District Award of Merit
you get the idea without me listing the rest, been there done that, got the T shirt.
Scouting can not function if we remove morals from it.
ALWAYS great to have you chime in Dave. Thanks! Rodney, thanks for your thorough history and commentary of the present BSA and LGBT debate and its implications. Very true and pertinent.
I would only add that for Christ followers the point is the same whether the temptation be homosexuality or anything thing else outside the design of God. We live in a post-modern culture today where anything goes if it “feels” right to the individual. The Kingdom response is one of change in Christ and freedom from the bondage of sin and slavery to the flesh.
Eagle Scout, Class of 1980…Steve, very solid article. The history of Scouting has been forged by courageous men. Men willing to take stands and invest in others. Alvin Townley records the humble beginnings of Scouting in his great book, Spirit of Adventure: Drawing on his experiences in the army, Baden-Powell began formulating a plan that would instill skills, initiative, citizenship, and character in Britian’s youth. His initial goals were modest and cooperative: To help existing organizations in making the rising generation, of whatever class or creed, into good citizens.”
From these beginnings to our current Scouting leaders around the world today…Scouting has been about developing boys into men. Mixing adventure with values, scouting principles have shaped the character of many. Our Boy Scouts of America are in need of new courageous men. Men willing to stand up for what is right! Vision for the cause of helping boys grow to manhood involves faith, freedom, and a desired future. Waite Phillips understood this. In his dedication of the Philmont property, he desired to connect his own youthful spirit and passions to the next generation, passing on a heritage of adventure and faith.
The 1941 dedication of Philmont read’s: These properties are donated and dedicated to the Boy Scouts of America for the purpose of perpetuating faith, self-reliance, integrity and freedom – principles used to build this great country by the American Pioneer. So that these future citizens may, through thoughtful adult guidance and by the inspiration of nature, visualize and form a code of living to diligently maintain these high ideals and our proper destiny. The Boy Scouts of America are based on a high ideal. One that is rooted in faith and values. One that for the majority of Scouts connects to God, finding direction from Him alone, through the Holy Bible, rather than in any individual human philosophy. While in some scouting circles, duty to God has reduced God to any higher power, this is not the way the Scout Oath is interpreted by the many troops chartered through churches. The Scout Oath (or Promise)…On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake,and morally straight.
Morally straight? By whose standards? The scouting commitment to be morally straight is at the heart of the current BSA national leadership’s consideration and pending decision of changing policy to remove the ban against openly gay/homosexual scouts and scouting leaders. It is a shame to me that the BSA national leadership is attempting to define the lines of morality around sexual orientation for scouting in this decision. I am strongly encouraging our BSA national leaders to refuse to change the policy on this issue.
The current policy is a policy that has been affirmed by the Supreme Court (2000) and a policy that has been thoroughly evaluated by the Boy Scouts for the past two years, ending with the decision/statement to take no further action on changing its membership standards this past summer (July 2012). I’m sure that there is an immense amount of pressure around this issue. Because of my position as a leader in my own church, I can only imagine the implications of taking this stand. Often in the ministry, we find ourselves under fire for decisions where we take a stand. It is a hard tension when you are expressing love for an individual and proclaiming a standard that condemns their actions. I understand that tension well. It is a place where a leader has to be courageous. It is a place where a leader stands firm on his beliefs. We need to stand firm on our beliefs…God Bless
Great article, Steve, you said it all.