The Boy Scouts of America and a few questions

on January 29 | in News, Religion, Theology | by | with 5 Comments

For the first time in its history the Boy Scouts of America is considering allowing gay scout masters and members. This comes on the heels of a doubling down on the issue just a few months ago.

Attempts to break the Scouts’ no-gay policy are not new, nor were they waning. If anything they were gaining steam as corporate sponsors like Merck and UPS had begun to bail. WND’s David Kupelian believes concern over finances is the driving factor in the decision.

My involvement with the Scouts is limited. I was in Cub Scouts for about a year. We met at Tony Wingate’s house down the street. He had a room full of styrofoam building blocks which were used to pummel one poor cub at the end of each meeting. Our “den mothers” were hopelessly outmatched.

I have known a few Eagle Scouts over the years including my uncle and a young man for whom I was honored to write a recommendation. Without question the Scouts have helped to create good citizens, teach skills, and allow older men to influence younger men. In many instances churches have been able to influence scout troops with believers involved at leadership levels.

My critique, it should be noted, is not toward the BSA’s decision as much as toward how followers of Christ might understand it.

Some hold the BSA has always stood for biblical principles but was being forced to abandon them due to political correctness.
boy scouts
The health of the BSA was already being challenged via lawsuits, and as revelations of pedophiles in the Scouts have become more broadly known. From WND again

In fact, the examination of sex abuse in Scouting reveals a long-standing paradox for the nation’s most revered youth group: For 80 years the Boy Scouts of America have given boys some of the best experiences of their lives, but for 80 years some men have used the Boy Scouts of America to have sexual relations with those boys.

“That’s been an issue since the Boy Scouts began,” said James Tarr, the nation’s chief Scout executive from 1979 through 1984.

More than 1,100 Scouts reported being molested by Scout workers over a single 19 year period.

Reflecting on these facts raises a few questions:

Where were the “end-of-the-world” pronouncements when the Boy Scouts of America’s “perversion files” were made public last year?

Why is it morally problematic for the Scouts to welcome gays, but not problematic for them to hide a multi-decade history of keeping molestation out of the public eye?

If the two are equally problematic, why not equally speedy and earnest responses to each?

Why is it problematic for churches to host a gay-friendly organization, but not problematic when the organization was “only” hiding child abuse for nearly a century?

Are we seeing the reaction of people for whom gay-rights is the last domino standing, after which there are no more culture wars to fight?

Is their sense of loss greater than their sense of truth?

Why have Scout leaders not already been called to repentance by evangelical leaders?

Why do we not emphasize that the Boy Scouts are now–and always have been–a moral organization focused on good citizenship not a gospel organization focused on discipleship?

Do we even recognize the two are not the same?

Why are some fighting to save moralism, rather than drawing a distinction between moralism and the saving grace of God?

Why do evangelical leaders not acknowledge the words “morally straight” are ambiguous, open to interpretation, malleable, and not scripturally moored?

Are some evangelical leaders not blurring the truth when they gloss over this reality: the Scouts’ generic “God” is not necessarily the God of the Bible?

Which God is it that both evangelicals and Mormons can affirm without qualification?

How is one God the same for Buddhists, followers of Native American religions, Muslims, Jews, Christians, those who define their own spirituality, Baha’i, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and more all of whom are included in the BSA’s definition of “God”?

If the Scouts are a Judeo-Christian organization why are more troops hosted by the Mormons than any other other single group?

Does our reaction to this announcement reveal confusion over biblical Christianity and civil religion?

Why would most Christians have no problem with this statement, “We have all the American values: the values of hard work, the values of integrity, the values of fairness and respect,” even though uttered by Bill Marriott explaining why his faith (Mormonism) does not interfere with his business?

Are we more concerned about the loss of Americanism than finding an authentic expression of a Christ-bought church?

If we are more concerned with an authentic expression of the church, why are we so afraid of a faltering culture since the church has usually shone brightest in the rubble?

Will we ever grasp that “reclaiming America” is not the same as “revival”?

Will we ever grasp there is no biblical mandate–or even a suggestion–that “reclaiming America” is a call on God’s people?

Have we misinterpreted the fall of Christendom as the work of Satan, rather than considering it could be God destroying our most grand, safe, and preferred idol?

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  • Bucky Elliott

    Great questions, Marty. I’d say this issue is representative of the “culture wars” in an iconic way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/revaarondavis Aaron Davis

    Prior to relocating I was the pack/troop chaplain for our local scout chapter. I have seen the religious material put out by the scouts and I can honestly tell you that it is so watered down it can be said that it is about good, not God. Even the religion-specific material avoided the gospel. I have heard that church-chartered chapters are different, but if that is true, those groups must be coming up with their own material. There is nothing, nothing in scouting that teaches the Gospel.

  • Pingback: Al Mohler, the Boy Scouts, and the Great Unraveling (by Alan Cross) | SBC Voices

  • David Rogers

    Prophetic, Marty. Thanks for your courage.

  • http://twitter.com/RBrianGass Brian Gass

    Too many questions to answer dude! :-) I will say morality is a great stop-gap for a civilized society while we spread the Gospel, expand the Kingdom, and even accidentally “reclaim America” in doing so. Our priority should always be the former rather than the latter, but I see no reason to stand by and watch the nation crumble while we go about our Gospel tasks. We can however be loving as we speak truth…and always remember that lasting change occurs one changed heart at a time.

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