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Friday, April 19, 2013

Why the Boy Scouts can NEVER be compatible with homosexuality

The Boy Scouts of America has been a part of my life since I was eight years old, in the fall of 1982.  That was more than thirty years ago.

I started in the Cub Scouts.  I earned my Bobcat, Wolf and Bear ranks.  In fifth grade I graduated to the Webelos Scouts and earned the Arrow of Light.  A few months later I became a full-fledged Boy Scout.  And that was one of the happiest points of my childhood.

It was like choosing to be a part of something with high ideals that I would always be striving to understand and fulfill.  I guess you could say it was like being a medieval squire, doing his best and learning all he could and gaining skills and experience.  Until the day when he would be dubbed at last a knight and forever honored as an avatar of virtue, honor and courage.

And then, at long last... I earned the rank of Eagle Scout.  Something that less than 1% of all Boy Scouts earn.  And that became the supreme moment of achievement in my young life.  My Eagle Scout ceremony was in August of 1992 and every day... every day... since then, I have carried my Eagle Scout card in my wallet.

For the first time in my life, I am considering carrying that Eagle Scout Card no longer.  Because the Boy Scouts is ceasing before our eyes to be the organization of principles and steadfastness that have defined it since its founding by Lord Robert Baden-Powell.

The Boy Scouts of America has announced today that it's putting forth a proposal to change its policy toward homosexual membership.  If approved by voting members next month, the new policy would not deny membership to youths "on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone".  The current policy would still apply toward adult leaders and other members, however.  Here is the resolution which was issued today and here's the summary of the proposed change:
Youth membership in the Boy Scouts of America is open to all youth who meet the specific membership requirements to join the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Sea Scout, and Venturing programs. Membership in any program of the Boy Scouts of America requires the youth member to (a) subscribe to and abide by the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, (b) subscribe to and abide by the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and (c) demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.
As best I understand it the breakdown is this: a boy with homosexual desires could be a Boy Scout, so long as he does not behave in a manner which violates the Scout Oath and the Scout Law.  Homosexual adults would still be banned.

Homosexuality is not, has never been and can never be compatible with the principles of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law.  In more ways than I can readily tick off the concept of the two not being direly exclusive of each other is so wildly incredible that in all sincerity, I have to wonder if those supporting this measure have any understanding of the Oath and the Law at all.

Consider the Scout Oath.  The one that millions of young men and their leaders have taken since a time predating the first World War:
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.
As a Scout, the first duty we vow to strive to fulfill is that to God.  The Boy Scouts of America has never been discriminatory against sects or denominations.  In my years of Scouting I have met fellow Scouts who have been from my own Protestant background, but also a great many Catholics.  And Jews.  And Mormons.  Boy Scouting is not a "pro-Christian" movement.  However it is one which affirms and holds to the belief that morality and virtuous principles come to us from God and not man.

And here already, homosexuality is not compatible with Scouting.  Because no monotheistic faith in the entire modern history of the world has ever preached sexual permissiveness.  Ever.  And that means any and all inappropriate sexual behavior.  The traditional and time-honored belief across all sincere faiths is that to dishonor and abuse the gift of sexuality which God has given us is to dishonor God.

I won't deny it: a young boy in the throes of adolescence often feels consumed by thoughts of the opposite gender which he has never known before.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  In fact, I'm strongly of the belief that such thoughts and feelings are normal, healthy, and not sinful at all.  The Boy Scouts are not an order of celibate monks and I've never known any adult leaders who have thought we should be that way either.

However having those desires does not mean that we must succumb to them!  To the contrary: we believe that God requires of us that we learn to control those desires... so that they do not control us.  This demands an ongoing self-discipline and personal restraint which is fully at odds with the carnal world around us.  Our God is not anti-sex.  He has made it that sex is good, that sex is beautiful, that sex is a gift... and it is a gift which MUST be enjoyed solely between one man and one woman within the bounds of marriage.  No exceptions.

If we disregard that, if we can not commit to that kind of self-restraint and discipline which does not hurt us but instead strengthens us and builds us up, then we have already failed God.  If we are true to God as best we understand Him, regardless of which aspect of that faith we adhere to, then our sexuality is a sacred thing consecrated to Him and made holy.  And that is not possible with homosexuality.  Or with pre-marital and extra-marital sex of any kind.

It has nothing to do with homosexuality itself. It does have to do with being responsible with the bodies and minds that God entrusted us with. It is against the principles of the Boy Scouts to engage in ANY sexual activity outside the confines of marriage. To do otherwise is to violate the sacredness of our physical, mental and emotional well-being. There can no more be a homosexual Boy Scout or a bisexual Boy Scout than there can be a Boy Scout who has sex with his girlfriend, with multiple girlfriends or engage in necrophilia.

And if Scouting is to acquiesce to homosexuality then it must also be prepared to do likewise with cocaine, heroin and animal sacrifice.  If Scouting becomes tolerant of everything, then Scouting will stand for nothing!

The twelve points of the Scout Law are: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.  If the Boy Scouts of America proceeds with this proposal, then we will have failed that Law in so many ways that it will be rendered absolutely meaningless.
Do not take this to be a judgment on homosexuals, because it is not that. If gay, lesbians and bisexuals wish to continue their activities, not I or anybody else can stop them. But those activities are NOT compatible at all with the Boy Scouts as Lord Baden-Powell intended them to be.  If homosexual men and boys wish to have their own organization, then let them.  They can make their own oath and law and comply with them however they wish.  But they shouldn't ask the Boy Scouts of America to endorse their behavior by changing our own principles!
And that is what this is really about: people trying to extort or enforce approval and endorsement of their behavior by those who earnestly believe that said behavior is immortal, unhealthy, self-abasing and legitimately dangerous.  Scouting can not capitulate to this!  "On MY honor I will do MY BEST" is how the Scout Oath begins.  To do our duty to God and our country and its people.  To put others before ourselves.  To keep ourselves "physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight".  But there is NOTHING mentally awake or morally straight about this resolution.
If the Boy Scouts of America votes to approve this change, then what else will be changed in time?  Where does it end?  Where does it stop?  At what point do we have the conviction to say "To this point, and NO further..."?
Again I must make clear: this has nothing to do with disliking or hating homosexuals.  A real Scout or Scouter can not do that.  Scouting also instills the values of respecting and extending courteous and cheerful friendship toward others even if we do not approve of their behavior.  Ultimately, that is something which they alone must answer for.
What this is about is what WE as Scouts and Scouters must answer for in terms of the morals and the values which we have taken a solemn oath to demonstrate in our lives.
"Brave" isn't the sole province of rescuing someone from a burning house or a sinking boat.  It doesn't mean a denial of fear.  But true bravery and courage is knowing what you believe, why you believe it, and holding true to that.  It means, if need be, standing one's ground... and standing defiant... when the world tells you to move.  To change.  To do what it tells you to believe or disbelieve.
True courage is having the strength, the mind, and the morality to tell the world "No.  I will not be disloyal to God, to my country, and to myself.  I can do no other.  I will not move.  You move."
That is not the popular thing to do in this day.  But it is what we have sworn or affirmed to do in taking the Scout Oath.
And I choose to spend the rest of my life striving to do my best to live by the Scout Oath and the Scout Law.  Even if doing so means that I can never again be a member of the Boy Scouts of America.
I can do that.  Sometimes one must lose a thing in order to save it.
I took an oath.  I promised to keep the twelve points of the Scout Law.  I will continue to do those.  Even though it looks as though doing so will lead me and no doubt many others to sever our affiliations with the Boy Scouts of America.
Ironic?  Yes.  Regrettable?  Yes.  Honorable?
If we are true to the Oath and the Law, we have no choice but to be so.  We must be loyal to God and our virtues, regardless of how the organization espousing them chooses to be loyal.
There has been formed a group of concerned Scouters, Scouts and others who are gravely concerned about the direction the Boy Scouts of America is tilting toward, and if you are as well I would seriously recommend that you check out OnMyHonor.net.  It describes itself as "the official coalition of concerned parents, Scout Leaders, Scouting Donors, Eagle Scouts and others affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America who are united in their support of Scouting’s timeless values and their opposition to open homosexuality in the Scouts".  Earlier today OnMyHonor.net posted a response to today's resolution, and the entire website addresses these concerns far more succinctly and eloquently than I possibly could.


Anonymous said...

Sorry bud, times change. Gender doesn't matter anymore. We're all equal, gay and straight.

Mike Morrell said...

Oh, good Lord. Where to begin? I'm not going to argue with you about the rightness or wrongness of being gay; we disagree on that. If you want to see what *many* Christians think about this that's different than a fundamentalist view, gohere.. Nope, I'm not going to argue your biblical interpretation or sexual ethic - we're poles apart on this.

Instead I'm going to argue this solely based on the internal logic of your post - one Scout to another. (I didn't make it much past Second Class. Started all the way in Tiger Cubs, though...)

First of all, it sounds like you agree that the Oath is non-sectarian, meaning that it could apply to Jewish people, Muslims, Mormons, Catholics, and any number of Protestants. Then you say " no monotheistic faith in the entire modern history of the world has ever preached sexual permissiveness." To begin with, you switch horses mid-stream. Are we talking about 'sexual permissiveness' or being gay, the latter of which can include celibate gay guys, or committed, monogamous gay relationships? If we're talking about celibates, monogamous relationships, et al, then I guarantee you that there are churches who host Boy Scout Troops who welcome and affirm gay members fitting these criterion for general Christian morality: The United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, Unitarian Universalists, and others come to mind. A great many PCUSA Presbyterians and United Methodists, too.

Secondly, you say "It is against the principles of the Boy Scouts to engage in ANY sexual activity outside the confines of marriage." To begin with, that's debatable - I knew plenty of scouts who punched their v-card outside of marriage. (I'm not even going to comment on your unconscionable comparison of LGBT love with heroin use or necrophilia. Geez Louise...) But let's pretend for a moment that the BSA actually kicked sexually-active kids out of Scouts. Gay twelve-year-old boys are not necessarily sexually-active boys. Indeed, I hope they're not. I think you're reading "having sex" into every mention of a kid being gay - it isn't there. I'm assuming that gay kids are awkward virgins just like straight kids, most of the time.

Third and finally, you say "I won't deny it: a young boy in the throes of adolescence often feels consumed by thoughts of the opposite gender which he has never known before. And there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I'm strongly of the belief that such thoughts and feelings are normal, healthy, and not sinful at all. The Boy Scouts are not an order of celibate monks and I've never known any adult leaders who have thought we should be that way either." So if I understand you correctly, horny straight kids are welcome, their sexuality being 'normal, healthy, and not sinful at all' - but horny gay kids are out? Wotta pretzel of logic.

Christopher, you and a few others might end up leaving the BSA. If that's what your conscience leads you to do, you should. But my reading of the Oath and Law says that the Scouts are good citizens and good neighbors - loving God means even loving our enemies, yes? And so I ask you - is the gay kid your enemy?

Todd said...

Wonderfully said, Mike!

A. Harper said...

@Anon Are bi-polar kids being immoral? If you ask me that was kinda low.

Homosexuality isn't normal, and many think it's immoral. I think it's sad the BOSA is thinking about doing this, a few gay people in powerful positions can alter the perception and decisions of the people. So much for principle.

Anonymous said...

Your logic is seriously flawed. Mike Morrell said it best, better than I can, but your thought process on this has serious flaws. Do you honestly believe what you wrote? What is wrong with you?

And to use the words necrophilia, cocaine, heroin and animal sacrifice in the same article with gays and lesbians puts you in league with the likes of the Phelps clan at Westboro Baptist Church. You're no better than they are, Chris. No better.

And you talk about tolerance? You're a hypocrite. At least the Phelps family doesn't talk out of both sides of their mouthes and exhibit their bigotry in the open.

God help you and anyone else who follows your thoughts in this matter.

Anonymous said...

@A.Harper Of course they're not. It would be bigoted to exclude them. Get the point?

Chris Knight said...

"What if someone proposed keeping bipolar kids out of BSA?"

Mental illness isn't a choice.

Consensual sex is.

Anonymous said...

Want to talk about "morality" in scouting? How about the leaders of the scouts that swept sex crimes under the rug? I haven't seen you blogging about scout leaders who knew sex crimes had been committed in the program, but failed to report it to police. Even locally. Where is that?

In case you haven't seen it, check out the Boy Scouts sex files released by the courts last year. Then look in North Carolina. Then look for local records. Then pay attention to the well known names that appear in one particular local file and you'll find some very well known people who never reported a 1981 sex crime once they knew it happened. Even after the accused scout "leader" admitted to what he did and said he was sorry, all they did was put him out of the program and went on about their daily routines. And did anyone in the case call the police? No, it was all filed away in a drawer somewhere. The "leader" who was accused and admitted to his misdeeds went to his grave without ever facing an earthly judge and jury for committing a crime. Where was the justice for the scout? Isn't it all about the scouts?

Why wasn't it reported? Probably to protect the "good" name of the scouting program or just because they didn't want to get involved in a nasty case. Or maybe to protect someone they knew. And by the way, I lost every ounce of respect I ever held for those men mentioned in the case file. They obviously knew and did nothing to help a crime victim. Have you written anything about what they did (or didn't do)? What about their obligation? Where was their decency? I'm sure you can ask them for yourself. After all, their names should be very familiar to you.

Apparently the Boy Scouts and the leadership of the Catholic church have been sharing the same play book for years. Sweep it under the rug or just juggle things around until people forget. But people don't forget. Both organizations thought they were doing a great job of hiding sex crimes, that is until the courts became involved.

And before you or someone else here gets their wires crossed in this scouting mess and plan to compare gays and lesbians to pedophiles, don't even go there. The figures aren't on your side. According to the Survey of Inmates of State Correctional Facilities by the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly two-thirds of convicted child molesters and/or offenders were married or had been married when they committed their crimes. Many of the ones accused of committing crimes identified themselves as heterosexual. And by the way, the local scout "leader" who was accused of committing a crime in 1981 also identified himself as heterosexual and was getting married when his ill deeds were reported. Read it yourself. It's all in his file.

So let's see you write about the morality of scouting leaders who have swept things under the rug for years to save the program. Let's see you tell the truth about how the Boy Scouts hid crimes for years and did it to protect the "good" name of the Boy Scouts of America (not to mention keeping all those donations coming in) while protecting criminals. Let's see you write about that. That would be a much better read.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I support you on this 100%, and the "morally upright" part plays a huge part. The problem? The definition of what is moral has changed in society's eyes. Because we live in a post-modern culture, we get to decide our own morality, unless (of course) our decision takes us against what is politically correct. What is politically correct right now? That two people of the same gender being together is as normal as two people of the opposite gender. So, if you disagree with that, now you are the immoral one.

If the scouts truly chose to do the right thing, the truly moral thing, they wouldn't budge on this issue. They would say that morality is not prone to the winds, that right is right and wrong is wrong no matter what the culture says. They will become ostracized, and suffer further persecution at the hands of the mind police, but they will suffer for what standing for what is right, and they will stand tall.

Or, they'll just do like the liberal denominations mentioned in the post above, and they'll sell out their convictions so that itching ears can hear what they want. And it'll just be one more push down the slippery slope we're already on.

Unfortunately, I can predict pretty easily the choice that will be made.

Anonymous said...

I believe that you sincerely believe it when you say that your post is not a judgment against homosexuals nor is about hating homosexuality.

In the spirit of open dialogue and in knowing ourselves, I ask you to consider if your very definition of homosexuality prevents you from ever accepting homosexuals? And if so, do you believe that is just?

You write: "The traditional and time-honored belief across all sincere faiths is that to dishonor and abuse the gift of sexuality which God has given us is to dishonor God."

My experience with homosexuals is that they are human: some are sexually deviant and some are monogamous. Some are good and some are jerks. They are, in their striving for meaning and love, in their imperfection and sin and goodness, just like us.

It's my belief that to define homosexuality as dishonoring God is not right, and it conflicts with a much higher requisite of sincere faith.

I ask only that you consider your definition of "abusing the gift of sexuality." To me, it does not need to encompass so many who want nothing more than to love and be happy, and to be seen as equals by others.

Anonymous said...

Well couldn't disagree with your opinion here any stronger since I'm a former gay scout myself not to mention a Christian. I could debate this point by point with you but I won't because in the grand scheme of things it's not something I'm passionate about. A
I am passionate about your blog which is thought provoking, articulate and respectful....just completely 180 degrees disagree with you primarily on the premise that homosexuality is an affront to God but that my friend is a debate I neither wish to have nor is appropriate. Needless to say I'd make a fine scoutmaster for my nephews and a fine example of a Christian godly man for them if given the opportunity one day and simply that I'm gay doesn't negate that nor does it violate the scout oathe to honor God...we all honor him in our own way which is the glory and beauty of free will and the death of Christ on our behalf. Again, another great article and well written...just completely disagree this time.

Gary A Ceres

Anonymous said...

For the record I knew I was gay at age 11. Didn't have sex until age 21. Equating being gay simply with sex is neither accurate nor fair.

Gary A Ceres

Anonymous said...

Your definition of homosexuality as immediately permissive is the stumbling point of your argument. You are equating homosexuality with promiscuity and permissiveness which is wrong headed and is judging people based on a liberal group mentality than on an individual basis. Are a higher percentage of gays promiscuous? Yes. Same argument could be made of children of single mothers, of blacks, etc if we look solely at statistics...but a founding principle of Christian faith and of scouting is to judge each person on individual merit and achievement and not on liberal notions of the collective. Here I find the fundamental entail flaw in your logic.

Gary A Ceres

Jessica Britton (jessicaash@aol.com) said...

Blogger Chris Knight said...

"What if someone proposed keeping bipolar kids out of BSA?"

Mental illness isn't a choice.

Consensual sex is.

Yes, consensual sex is a choice. So is Ignorance, unfortunately, but at least that can be corrected. Sexual orientation however (along with gender identity), is not a choice.

Chris Knight said...


I can understand that a person *can* have a homosexual tendency to some degree or another.

But what a person *do* with that tendency? Must he or she give in, yield to it? Satiate it?

Or should a person choose to endure it, fight it, make it a thing that doesn't control them but rather they control *it*.

This is not about just homosexuality. It is about heterosexuality as well. It is about alcohol and heroin use and excessive eating and the Internet and *anything* else that we might be drawn to abuse. Anything at all that we yield to and become controlled by.

I refuse to believe that humans are meant to be instinctive animals: caving in to the cravings of the flesh without thought and consideration.

Yes, there are lusts of the flesh. We all have them in one form or another. ALL of us. Even me. And I *have* yielded to some things more times than I would like to admit.

But I also choose NOT to let them have dominance over me. If a person with my weaknesses and faults and shortcomings can do that, then I don't see how ANYBODY else *can't* do it either.

Jessica Britton (jessicaash@aol.com) said...

It's not a case of "can" have a tendency, Chris. Simple fact is that some people are born straight, some are gay, some are bisexual, some have no sexual orientation at all. You speak of "lusts of the flesh" as if sex itself is the only thing involved. That's simply not true. Who we are attracted to involves a lot more than just sex. If it's a choice, when did you choose to be sexually attracted to women instead of men? You didn't choose, because you are straight. For someone who is gay, the same is true. There is no choice.

Anonymous said...

He did not say that homosexuality was the same as necrophilia, he was using it as an example as well as promiscuous hetero sex. I think that you guys just want to see what you want and twist it so it is in your favor.

If the BSOA was created by one man with a certain vision what is wrong with that? Why can't you make your own group instead of infiltrating this one and making it what you want? He was very respectful, and it is clear that he doesn't hate homosexuality.