East 91st Street Christian Church to cut ties with Boy Scouts over allowing gay youths. July 25, 2013
Heritage Christian School to end charter with Boy Scout group over gay issue. July 25, 2013
3rd Indianapolis-area Baptist church cuts ties with its Boy Scouts troop over move to allow gay youth. July 12, 2013
Southeastside church cuts affiliation with Cub Scout pack over vote to allow gay youth. July 11, 2013
These are all Indianapolis Star headlines in July, the painful decision of churches and schools to end what in some cases, has been a very long relationship with the BSA.
What troubles me about this is the impression that these organizations are turning away little kids over a “political viewpoint” instead of being loving and accepting of all children after the model of Jesus, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. Matthew 19:14
Is that what Heritage Christian Schools and East 91st Christian and other churches are doing? I don’t know them all personally, but I have enough awareness of Heritage and East 91st to know that is not the case. They are welcoming of children. They are committed to loving and serving children.
The issue is not whether we welcome children, but how we serve children. Jesus also said, if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Matthew 18:6
The issue with the Boy Scouts is not really about welcoming children. It is about succumbing to an agenda that labels little boys as homosexual long before they are mature enough to have anything of that magnitude settled in their minds. It is about betraying little boys by abandoning them to sexual identity confusion instead of helping them in their struggle to become young men as God designed them to be; and where sexual identity confusion or disorder remains, to lovingly guide them to God honoring choices.
The supposed political agenda is not with the churches in this case, but with the Boy Scouts of America, who left principle behind to bend to the prevailing political winds of the day.
The church I serve did not have to face the tough decision forced upon many by the Boy Scouts because we have not been a troop sponsor. But it’s not about the hateful rejecting “gay youths.” We welcome all people in our church regardless of their struggles. But being welcoming does not mean abandoning the teaching of Scripture about male and female and sexual morality.
2 thoughts on “Boy Scouts of America and Sponsoring Groups”
I so appreciate your analysis of the Boy Scout issues, reflecting both the difficult truths of the BSA’s choice and the desperate need for grace to individuals that often love God deeply, but have tremendous conflicts over that love and the desires they feel that could lead to behavior inconsistent with what Scripture teaches (and the Holy Spirit speaks). Sadly, the path of least resistance (at least of less obvious pain) means embrace of a culture that makes sexual entitlement its focus and God a benevolent, but distant, second love.
I have led my son and other boys as a Cub Scout leader for several years and had to come to a decision, as did these chartering churches, whether to stay in Scouting or exit. Close friends, who I respect for their choices, decided to leave. I chose to stay. Six months ago I felt like progressive thinkers who saw me in my Den Leader’s uniform were wondering, “How can that guy be a part of an organization like that?” Now I feel like that’s what my evangelical Christian friends are saying…
The issues that I had with the Scouts’ decision were:
1. For a group that spends great effort to teach young men how to combat bullying, the organization re-addressed the issue of homosexuality only as a result of a long campaign of intimidation by advocates that would block financial support and would relentlessly taint the name of Scouting. The leadership folded when bullied; I would hope that lesson was not learned by the young men and boys in Scouting who have been taught otherwise.
2. It was intellectually vacuous. It is okay to be openly gay as a patrol leader at 17-years old; at 18, homosexuality is wrong as an “adult leader.” Please…
3. As you said, it has sexualized children. What is an openly gay 7-year old? My 10-year old son thinks girls are gross, can’t begin to stomach any conversation about the birds-and-bees, and I really don’t think any of that is bad. His brain is centered on baseball and bicycling, not various manifestations of sexuality. I grieve that I had to explain to him why a good friend’s parents were pulling their son out of Scouting. I’m not a “natural law” apologist, but there is something significant about the moral repugnance a youngster feels about something that seems so very unnatural.
So, that said, I’m still in. Because…
1. As much as I dislike it, Scouting, like many institutions, not least of them many of our universities, is “faith based” in origin, but probably best considered secular. I can understand churches that feel that serving as a chartering body is inappropriate, as I can understand why they might continue even with misgivings. The Boy Scouts are seeking to survive in a syncretist, pluralistic culture. If my local church look the position that the BSA did, it would take a lot of convincing by the leadership for me to even stay there. I don’t hold the Boy Scouts to the same standard.
2. I am worried when Christians seek to further ghettoize themselves within their own organizations, like those who are now starting a parallel organization to the BSA. Perhaps we really can hide a city on a hill after all, or perhaps (more likely) salt and light are best experienced from inside hostile environs. There is an infrastructure of great Christian value still within the Boy Scouts of America, and what a magnificent opportunity we have to share the gospel in an environment that is not yet hostile to faith. We will increasingly long for such potentially fertile grounds in a future of further marginalization of Christianity in our culture.
3. The church needs to speak grace to a group that it had deeply wounded. I have heard it said that the homophobia (or whatever we call it, that which is interpreted by those with desires over which they have no obvious control as “We HATE you!”) has lost credibility for the evangelical church among gay and lesbian people, created in the image of God but truly lost and in desperate need of salvation like everyone, for at least a generation. How sad! I don’t want to pick up my toys and leave the playground when there are fences to be mended (please forgive the mixed metaphors). I want to be part of reconciliation and repentance, and a part of sharing the truth of what Bonhoeffer’s “costly discipleship” entails. I need grace, and I need to show grace. Maybe the Scouts are an avenue for both to happen.
My son and I will stay in Scouting, and I will do so with misgivings and with disappointment in what I think is a weak and intellectually and morally unserious leadership. But I hope for wisdom to speak grace in truth as a leader in Scouting, and as Tom has done in this series of blogs, and to listen to the Spirit who tells me to stay now or eventually go, whichever serves to bring glory to His name.
Thanks, Jerry, for an excellent review of the challenge. I am very appreciative of the importance of staying connected with our world, not becoming islands unto ourselves where we don’t connect with others. I think we agree that your choice as an individual to stay connected is different than a church or Christian school where the organizational link may seem to be endorsing positions that are believed to be morally unacceptable.
I applaud your decision to stay and know you will keep your eyes open to the developing pressures, probably varying from troop to troop.