Conventional Thinking: Uncertain future of Scouting
Last summer, I wrote an editorial (“Scouts honor”) praising the Boy Scouts of America. The timing of the piece came in conjunction with the distinguished organization’s decision to uphold a long-held policy that prevents openly homosexual men from serving in leadership positions within the organization.
In the months since that time, the leaders of Boy Scouts of America announced a potential 180 degree turn from that decision. In fact, its leadership was expected to announce a full reversal earlier this month. Yet, facing much public pressure from Christian leaders, the Boy Scouts have delayed a decision until May.
What is the issue at hand? The Scouts are not considering a policy that all councils and troops allow homosexuals in the association. They reportedly want to lift the national ban and let local groups decide whether to have homosexuals among their ranks. This change of course would be problematic in numerous ways.
As Frank Page, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, has pointed out, the Scouts’ national policy trumps local policy when it comes to larger national meetings.
“At some point, the national policy shift will trump local autonomy,”
Moreover, while Scouts have spent untold dollars facing lawsuits and PR battles related to its long-held public stance on openly homosexual people in the organization, local councils will not have the resources to fight such battles in court or the court of public opinion. Those who are divided will be conquered.
At some point, though, we must answer the more fundamental question. Why would the Boy Scouts of America NOT want openly homosexual men in their association? A clear answer is
For sake of propriety, it is unwise to allow men with a same-sex attraction to be in close proximity to teen boys and children, such as camping situations. This does not necessarily mean that homosexual men will attempt to violate boys. At the same time, every reported incident of a man making sexual contact with a Boy Scout is by its very nature a homosexual act.
In a larger sense, though, the homosexual lifestyle itself is not consistent with the Scouts’ philosophy. The Scouts Oath says, “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.” When news broke that the Scouts might reverse the policy, Christians throughout the world spoke up in opposition citing this very reason.
There is something especially consistent with the Scouts program and the biblical understanding of sexuality, and that is what is at stake. In a day in which youth are bombarded with all manner of confusing messages about sex, Scouting was the last place you would expect to see the homosexual lifestyle exalted.
Nonetheless, what is most disturbing in all of this development is that the Scouts organization appears to be moved by money. Baptist Press reported that certain mega businesses have all but threatened to withdraw funding from the Scouts if they do not change their policy in regard to homosexuals.
The silent majority that make up Scouting life, however, clearly disagree. Public prayer meetings and demonstrations were held in the days leading up to this month’s Boy Scouts Board meeting. Time will tell if the Scouts stay the course or change it.
In the meantime, like so many of my fellow Southern Baptists who once were Boy Scouts, I will be praying the Scouts’ leadership does not cave into the forces of political correctness and thereby forfeit their heritage and strong moral authority. It is not too late to do the right thing.