Why I'm not pulling my son from the Boy Scouts

By Kersley Fitzgerald

When Dev said he wanted JT to join Scouts, I didn't even bother arguing. I have no great love for institutions or understanding of institutional loyalty, but Dev is an Eagle Scout. I knew putting JT in Scouts would give him opportunities to learn the skills we try to teach him from a different direction. As well as character issues like the importance of honesty and clean underwear.

That was before the recent fire storm.

In May of this year, the Boy Scouts of America "approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone." [1] Many, many believers, including the Southern Baptist Convention [2], have condemned the decision and are threatening to remove their support. Of course, before the decision, many, many secular organizations condemned the policy and threatened to remove their support.

But some Christian families — families who believe that active homosexuality is a sin according to the Bible — are rolling their eyes, rolling their boys' neckerchiefs, and trying to figure out where that shot record is because for pity's sake we're late to meet up for summer camp and you will get your archery badge this year I just know it.

I am in that group. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Scouts promote moral behavior, but they are not my kid's spiritual authority. Not any more than his football coach or his public school teacher. In his life he will have good leaders and bad leaders, and he's going to have to learn the difference. In the meantime, he will learn about God and the Bible from his parents and his church; not the guy who shows him how to steer a kayak. We are blessed when we have leaders who are the same faith, but we also have a Buddhist family in our troop. We're certainly not going to kick a boy out because he's Buddhist.

2. It may very well be that the entire issue is being pushed by an unbiblical liberal agenda, but I will not have my son bullied by an unloving conservative agenda. Right now, in this moment, it is about the boy who is confused (or not) by his sexuality and wants to learn how to whittle. There may come a time when Boy Scout leadership says, "You must approve of the gay agenda." When that time comes, we will leave. But right now, I'm standing up and saying, "You must be kind to everyone — whether they're wounded or confused or rebellious or have a natural tendency to disobey the Bible in a different way than you."

3. There is a difference between accepting someone who has a same-sex attraction and giving that person encouragement to indulge in that behavior. Or any sexual behavior. Boy Scouts is not about having sex. A couple of months ago, JT's leader had to yell at him to stop chasing the other boys around with a burning stick. That's because JT's natural propensity is to sometimes act like a picklehead. Thankfully, they do not kick you out of Scouts for being a picklehead. Although they might if you, say, manifested that particular character trait in a way that gave another Scout 3rd degree burns. Similarly, I would imagine that if a boy with same-sex attraction acted in a way that endangered other Scouts, he would be removed. We all have a propensity to sin. I have a strong suspicion that my son's particular propensities will have much more of a chance to manifest themselves in Scouts than any boy facing same-sex attraction.

4. Boy Scouts is not a Christian organization, but it does teach ethics and life skills. I believe that we should allow the Scouts to teach boys how to be moral in the context of their own lives.

Here's the deal. Dev used to teach character and leadership at a military academy. As a federally-owned university, the academy was legally non-sectarian. He was not allowed to talk about God or Christianity or his own faith unless a cadet brought it up first. What he was allowed to do was to teach the cadets leadership/character/morality/blessed common sense within the context of their ostensibly secular lives. Now, it just so happened that those morals were largely found in the Bible. But although he couldn't say, "The Bible says don't lie," he could say, "Let's think about lies and what they mean in the context of relationships." (Sadly, such conversations often began with a definition of a lie.) Ethics were valued and expected with the understanding that perfectly moral behavior is impossible.

By refusing to allow openly gay boys into Scouts, the message is, "You are so broken that we can't teach you anything. Because of your sexuality, we believe teaching you honesty, helpfulness, bravery, and kindness is a lost cause. You aren't worth our time." That's a horrible message for anyone to hear. Furthermore, teaching a boy that he must hide what to him is a large part of who he is trains him to be ashamed and deceptive.

5. This is JT's front line, and there is no other. JT goes to a Christian school (because we don't think he'd do well in a large public school, although his elementary school was great). He doesn't play a lot of extra-curricular sports because we don't have time. Where else will he meet people with different beliefs? How else will he find out how the Bible stacks up against different beliefs? How will he learn to be kind to everyone if he hardly knows anyone? Even people who don't believe in following the Bible?

As a side note, I think this is more of a macro issue than just Boy Scouts. I think the rise of the gay agenda is a powerful opportunity for conservative Christianity. For one of the first times, we cannot hide behind the pulpit in a church with closed doors and rant about "THEM!" Instead, we have the chance to meet our neighbors. To listen to them, hear their stories, love them as people instead of condemning them as walking bundles of immorality.

I was talking to some friends whose son goes to a Christian-only, homeschool-only Boy Scout troop. The boys and their parents had a meeting about whether they would continue or disband. Tempers were high. The parents were split. Some suggested the more senior scouts hurry through and get their eagle, and then they can disband.

One of the boys stood up and said, "I am ashamed of you!" He pointed out that if they felt this strongly, they should rip the badges off their sons' uniforms now. They should take off their own Eagle Scout badges. Disbanding the troop to "protect" their boys from the people they will need to love their whole lives is not what Jesus would do.

My friends agreed. They were not afraid that if their Christian, home-schooled boy met a sinner he'd somehow get contaminated. They will not hide from the world they are supposed to reach.


TagsChristian-Life  | Controversial-Issues  | Current-Issues  | Family-Life  | Personal-Life

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Published 7-2-13