Just thirteen years ago, the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed that fact that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), as a private membership organization, is free to admit or deny admittance to anyone they choose.1 And now, the BSA has chosen.
After years of controversy about whether or not the BSA should permit homosexual leaders and members, the organization’s leadership council this week voted to allow openly homosexual boys to join and participate. While no vote was taken on the question of allowing homosexual leaders—leaving the ban on openly gay leaders in place for the moment—gay activists are already gearing up for phase two: another push to get gay leaders accepted. Indeed, how can BSA endorse the acceptability of a homosexual lifestyle in its boys and continue to deny it as an acceptable lifestyle in its adult leaders?
Nearly 3 million youth and a million adults participate in the Boy Scouts of America, and since 1911 they have all pledged to be “morally straight.” Just last summer the BSA reaffirmed its 22-year policy of “not granting membership to open or avowed homosexuals.”2 The Boy Scouts has never been a Christian organization per se, but it has historically held to Christian moral standards as defined in the Bible. In 1991, the BSA established its ban on openly homosexual members and leaders because homosexual behavior is not “morally straight.”3 More than 70% of the BSA troops are sponsored by religious groups that tend to take a dim view of the homosexual lifestyle. The fact that openly homosexual leaders are still not permitted affirms the fact that biblical morality has been the acknowledged source of the Scouts’ moral code. God’s Word is the only standard for morality. Scripture is clear that homosexual behavior is sinful and immoral (Romans 1:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11; 1 Timothy 1:8–11).
So how is it that this private organization has opted to redefine the standards of morality that its members promise to uphold? How is it that homosexual activists, excluded from both leadership and membership by longstanding policy, have succeeded in gaining BSA affirmation of their lifestyle?
The latest push for a policy change got a boost from the President of the United States, by tradition the honorary president of the BSA. President Obama put pressure on the Scouts to admit practicing homosexuals. Rancorous public controversy from February 2013 remained unresolved as BSA executives opted to delay a final decision until this National Council meeting of over 1,400 Boy Scout leaders in Grapevine, Texas. 61% of the delegates have now voted out biblical morality—757 voted to admit openly gay members, and 475 voted against.
The compromise to vote only on the issue of youth membership and not leadership has pleased virtually no one. BSA national commissioner Tico Perez said, “This resolution today dealt with youth. We have not changed our adult membership standards. They have served us well for the last 100 years. Those were not on the table.” However, LGBT activists are dissatisfied that the new policy doesn’t go far enough and are already clamoring for admission to leadership positions.
BSA president Wayne Perry said the Scout vision is “to serve every kid.” But given this vote and the foreshadowed coming attractions in the leadership arena, the number of kids BSA serves may diminish dramatically. An assistant Scoutmaster and parent from Mississippi summed up the sentiments of many, saying, “I'm not happy as a parent. The gay activist isn't happy and will not be until homosexuals can be leaders, etc. So there will be more pressure, and more fighting, and more acquiescence. No thanks.” He says, “There are other activities for my kids to do. There are other organizations that I can support with my time and money.”
“Sex and politics just have no place in the Boy Scouts of America,” said BSA parent John Stemberger, whose group “On My Honor” opposed the change. Indeed, what good can be gained from openness about sexuality with children as young as 10 years of age? Is sexuality something that should be encouraged or even discussed outside the home with teenage boys—particularly on an organizational level? Sexuality should be a private—or at best a biological/medical—topic in any organization, not to mention one developed for children. Only time will tell how many children whose parents are unwilling to have them placed in harm’s way will still be scouts when the policy takes effect on January 1, 2014, particularly if gay adults (who could develop a sexual interest in their own troop members—and could perhaps even legally act upon it with an 18-year-old “consenting” scout!) are allowed to be leaders. Troops sponsored by churches with a biblical understanding of morality may also fall away. A meeting to consider formation of “a new character development organization for boys,”4 is set for next month in Louisville, Kentucky.
Scouting has never been about sexual matters, but the prominence of this issue has changed the organization’s focus and priorities. Though a BSA statement says “the Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission,”5 by walking away from biblical moral standards—ostensibly to serve more kids—it has done just that, and the organization may well find itself serving far fewer.
Our Creator alone has the authority to establish absolute moral standards. Despite the claim by many homosexuals that homosexuality is an innate facet of their personality, like any sin, the choice to live a homosexual lifestyle is rebellion against God. It is sad to see that the Boy Scouts of America follow the lead of Scouts Canada and The Scout Association UK in its choice of what sort of morality to endorse. If the Scout Association UK’s literature is any indication, this policy change will not merely accept openly gay members but actually endorse homosexual behavior as acceptable.
The BSA has, by a 61% vote, taken a giant step away from helping America’s future young men see the blessings of biblical morality. Instead, by affirming the choices of those who embrace a sinful homosexual lifestyle as an acceptable alternative, the BSA has cheapened biblical truth and flaunted biblical authority. BSA leadership, by moving its “tent toward Sodom” (Genesis 13:12) has turned its back on biblical morality and followed the lead of the secular world in making sex and sexual orientation a part of scouting.
But above the moral concerns lies a gospel concern. Those who are taught that morality can be redefined by an organization are being turned away from recognizing their sinfulness before a holy God. Jesus made it very plain that sexuality is not defined by the norms of a culture, but that the only norm for human sexuality is one man joined to one woman in marriage (Matthew 19:3–6, Mark 10:6). To redefine homosexuality as “morally straight” is to say that fornication, idolatry, adultery, theft and drunkenness are also “morally straight” (1 Corinthians 6:9–11; Romans 1:28–32). This undermines the definition of sin and removes the need for a Savior to wash the stains of sin from our hearts and justify us before God. By redefining sin, the BSA has told Jesus that He is not needed. Thus, the BSA’s endorsement of a homosexual lifestyle as normal has a broad-reaching effect that goes far beyond the “gay” agenda to touch the way every Boy Scout will view, not just sexual issues, but his own need for salvation.
- What Do Christians Have to Say about Homosexual Behavior?
- Will the Boy Scouts Move Their Tents Toward Sodom?
- Pro-Gay Theology: Does the Bible Approve of Homosexuality?
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