To the shock and disappointment of many of us, the Boy Scouts of America released a statement yesterday indicating the possibility of changing its policy that prevents the participation of openly practicing homosexuals.
According to press reports, the 100-year-old organization’s board will meet next week at which time the matter will be debated and likely decided.
In an official statement, the Scouts stated:
This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families…The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue.
In other words, the Boy Scouts of America, an organization that has historically required its members to take an oath to be “morally straight,” appears to now be favoring moral neutrality.
Neutrality is often an attractive option, especially when the goal is to not offend. But in this case, I’m reminded of what the great humanitarian and political activist Elie Wiesel once wrote about trying to remain neutral when it comes to moral affairs:
We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.
At stake in this debate is not just the golden brand of the Boy Scouts but most importantly the character and safety of the boys involved.
I realize that what I’m about to say might upset some people, but I hope we’re mature enough to discuss such important issues in straightforward and even stark terms.
My concern about the proposed change in the Boy Scouts has less to do with the idea of boys who identify as homosexuals and almost everything to do with the homosexual men who will be charged with leading and protecting the boys.
I have a good friend who was abused by a homosexual Boy Scout leader when he was twelve years old. The abuse triggered a horrific series of events that sent the boy reeling. His life was nearly ruined. I realize that most homosexual males are not pedophiles but can we not face facts and ask why we would deliberately put a youngster in a heightened position of risk? Is it worth it? Of course not.
One of the great tragedies of the last few decades has been the abuse of young children by religious leaders. Of course these cases are the exception and most priests and pastors are trustworthy. But one of the reasons the abuse occurred in the first place was because many of the involved clergy were homosexuals and the responsible governing bodies frequently have refused to acknowledge there’s any correlation to child molestation, especially concerning boys.
This subject has generated a significant amount of concern and understandably so. My friend and Focus board member, Dr. Al Mohler, summed up the situation and the broader challenge to Christendom on his blog last evening:
Faithful Christians are left in the excruciatingly difficult position of maintaining fidelity to moral judgments revealed in the Bible while the culture around us races in the opposite direction. While the Boy Scouts use language like “morally straight,” the church uses its own language of sin, grace, and obedience…The new policy to be adopted by the Boy Scouts of America represents a revolution in what that esteemed organization understands “morally straight” to mean. We should not let that pass without taking notice of what that revolution will eventually bring about — nothing less than a reversal of what morality is understood to demand.
Let’s pray that the Boy Scouts of America will stand strong and resist the social and political pressures that are currently leaning into them with great force.
I hope you’ll consider asking the Boy Scouts of America to continue creating safe, secure environments for their youth members. Urge the group to maintain its current selection process for finding adult leaders. The people who will be voting on this issue need to hear affirmation of the historical foundations of scouting. They need to know people are with them.
If you wish in the coming days to share your comments directly, please feel free to use the following options:
1. firstname.lastname@example.org (this is the email address of the BSA National Office)
2. Email your local Scout Executive
3. By calling the BSA National Office at 1-972-580-2267.