My son has loved being part of the Boy Scouts for the past four years. He is now a Life Scout and hopes to earn Eagle Scout before the end of the year. The Boy Scouts have been dear to our hearts as it has been an organization that has helped our son learn life and leadership skills along with sound moral character. While Boy Scouts has not been an inherently Christian organization, it has been very friendly to Christianity and to biblical morality. Yet the cultural tsunami of the approval of homosexual behavior is changing that. Those leading this cultural tsunami demand that all groups and all peoples embrace homosexual relationships as morally and socially good. This demands that scripture be rejected as a reliable guide for a moral life.
In May, the Boy Scouts voted to amend their membership policy to allow for openly, self-identified homosexual youth to join the organization. Previously, an open avowal of homosexual orientation would have kept a boy from joining the scouts, as it was perceived as inconsistent with the Scout Oath and the Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word and deed. To be clear, the Boy Scouts still affirm that no youth should be engaged in sexual activity, heterosexual or homosexual. Yet the decision that the Boy Scouts made regarding membership reveals a profound change in the organization’s view of the morality of homosexuality. The new policy communicates that homosexuality is not a moral issue at all. In this, they exchange the morality of scripture for the morality of the powerbrokers of culture.
Why should believers who are involved in Boy Scouts be concerned? I think four issues demand rethinking one’s commitment to Boy Scouts.
1. Helping Boys with Same Sex Attraction
One’s perspective about same sex attraction is foundational to one’s response to the Boy Scouts decision. The world would have us believe that same sex attraction is a healthy part of a person’s identity to be encouraged in those who are genetically predisposed. The forces of cultural change advise young men with same sex attraction, “Proudly embrace it and at some point in life, express it through homosexual relationship(s).” The world says that anything other than a celebration of homosexual relationships is bigotry.
In contrast, the Bible views attraction to any sin as part of our “flesh” that is in conflict with God’s Spirit. God provides a way out of the sins that enslave and kill, not a way deeper into them. The world’s counsel is disastrous to young men and young women who are tempted by the specific sin of homosexuality. Love does not encourage surrender to homosexual sin; love communicates the hope of victory over sin through the Gospel. If we truly care about the boys who are experiencing same sex attraction, we will point them to the truth that there is a better option for them than the pursuit of a lifetime of homosexual sin. Such boys need the love of God . . . a love that is full of both grace and truth. The Boy Scouts new policy does not allow for Scout leaders to share the Gospel truth about this specific sin with scouts who are struggling with same sex attraction. A large reason that Christian adults volunteer to serve in Boy Scouts is the opportunity to help young men learn to do their duty to God and country and to mature to become physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. The recent decision by the Boy Scouts ties the hands of scout leaders to help young men who are battling same sex attraction.
2. The Integrity of an Oath
Scouting takes very seriously the Scout Oath which reads: “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.” Prior to the decision made by the organization, these words in the scout oath reflected biblical morality, a morality that understood homosexual relationships to be “not straight.” Yet the decision by the scouts fundamentally changes the meaning of the scout oath. The words remain the same, but the definitions given to those words are radically altered. The Boy Scouts decision reveals that they have redefined morality in general and the morality of homosexuality in specific. In so doing, they have rejected the morality defined by God in His Word. Beginning in January, the Scout oath will become an oath for a young man to live according to the moral code of the world in contradiction to the moral code of scripture. The Boy Scouts have a right as an organization to redefine what “morally straight” means to their members. The members must decide for themselves if they can pledge themselves to the new meaning of this oath.
3. The Impossibility of Maintaining the Present Policy
The new decision by the Boy Scouts continues to prohibit practicing homosexual adults from membership and leadership positions within the Scouts. Yet the decision to allow openly homosexual boys to become members abandons the moral basis that makes homosexual adult exclusion reasonable. Once the morality of homosexuality is affirmed, what possible reason might one give to exclude homosexual adults from troop leadership? Homosexual author and activist, Nathaniel Frank, makes this same point, “I asked the Boy Scouts of America repeatedly for an explanation for why it would remove the ban on gay scouts but continue the ban on openly gay adults. But there isn’t one . . . . the Boy Scouts’ policy is a compromise measure—devoid of all principle—that bows to opinion polls, fears, and the yelps of religious conservatives.”
Someone suggested that maybe this ban on adult homosexual leadership had to do with the greater threat of molestation that homosexual leaders may pose. But Frank reported that Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith absolutely denied this to be a consideration at all. Frank was frustrated that Smith would not give him any rationale for the ban on homosexual leaders. Without a moral basis for rejecting homosexual behavior, I cannot see a future in which the present policy does not crumble under the weight of its own contradiction and that adult homosexuals will be embraced as qualified to lead youth for character development. The present policy evades rather than resolves the problem that Boy Scouts faces. And as champion boxer Joe Louis is attributed to say, “You can run, but you cannot hide.”
4. The Potential of Sexual Abuse and/or Spiritual Abuse
One of the joyful aspects of the Boy Scouts is its emphasis on older boys leading the younger boys in nearly every aspect of scouting. Summer camps and weekend overnights are highlights for scouts and opportunities for older scouts to closely interact with younger scouts, teaching them life skills through instruction and relationship. The new policy allows for an openly homosexual 17 year-old boy to sleep in the same tent as a 12 year-old boy. It allows for a 17 year-old boy to talk with a 12 year-old boy about his homosexual orientation and to convince him of the moral goodness of eventually pursuing a homosexual lifestyle. As a father, I would not allow my 12 year-old son to be put in this potentially dangerous position. Yet when my son leaves for summer camp or a wilderness adventure, I cannot see how this scenario can be absolutely avoided.
I understand that the Boy Scouts are in a tough position. The cultural tsunami for homosexual approval threatens to wash them into oblivion like it does any person or organization that contends homosexuality is a moral issue. It is not fun to publicly be called a “bigot” or a “hater”. But the Boy Scout’s purpose has been to help boys become men, men who would make the right decision because it is right, even when pressured toward the wrong. It seems to me, that the leadership of the Boy Scouts failed at the point of their strongest value. This is not only a missed opportunity for moral instruction; it is a failure of leaders to stand against immoral pressure and show themselves to be men of moral courage.