Sunday, 26 May 2013

Thoughts on gay youth, LDS Scout Troops, and the BSA

Very recently the Boy Scouts of America elected to make a policy change that would allow gay youth to participate in Scouting.  In response to this change the Church issued a statement (found here) that does not condemn the change in any way.  In fact some members are worried that the church is bowing to the demands of gay activist, while some others celebrate it for the same reason.

Both are wrong however.  Take a look at this part of the statement released by the Church:
The Church’s long-established policy for participation in activities is stated in the basic instructional handbook used by lay leaders of the Church: “young men … who agree to abide by Church standards” are “welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 8.17.3). This policy applies to Church-sponsored Scout units. Sexual orientation has not previously been—and is not now—a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops. Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest. These standards are outlined in the booklet For the Strength of Youth and include abstinence from sexual relationships.

There are two key things to get out of this.  First, while this is a change for the BSA, it is not a change for the Church.  We have not been excluding youth on the basis of their sexual orientation, even when the policies of the BSA would have allowed us to do so.  There is no 'slippery slope' here for the church, we will carry on exactly the same as before.

Second is a strong affirmation of the standards of the Church.  The statement reiterates the requirement for youth to not engage in sexual relationship and refers further to For The Strength of Youth.  On page 36 of that booklet you will find:
Homosexual and lesbian behavior is a serious sin. If you find yourself struggling with same-gender attraction or you are being persuaded to participate in inappropriate behavior, seek counsel from your parents and bishop. They will help you.
So, the reaction of the church to this policy change neither undermines the standards of the church nor changes the direction of the church with respect to homosexuals.  Literally nothing has changed for us.

It is a good policy for the Church to follow as well.  There is no purpose served in rejecting a gay youth who is living the standards of the church.  Not only would doing so deprive them of an environment that will strengthen their resolve to follow Christ, but it would push them towards those who would lead them into abandoning the church and it's standards and embracing a lifestyle of sin.

For many non-LDS Scout troops this will be a significant change, and it will be interesting to see the fallout of that. I expect there will be parents pulling their kids out of Scouts (or just not enrolling their kids into Scouts in the first place).  There may be some experienced Scout leaders stepping down because of this.  There are troops that are sponsored by other churches that take a harsher stance on homosexuality, and those sponsors may feel they have no option but to withdraw their support.  Whether this will happen on a scale that hurts the BSA or not is anyone's guess at this point, time will tell, but if it happens in a big way, it will result in a larger percentage of the BSA being LDS.  The fears of a 'homosexual takeover' may in fact result in a Mormon takeover.

In the mean time, the Church will continue to be a positive influence within the BSA.  Shortly before the vote on the policy change was held, Bishop Gary E. Stevenson, the presiding bishop of the Church addressed over 1,500 Scout leaders on the topic of how 'Duty to God' is a fundamental part of Scouting.

It can't be ignored however that this is another sign of how the culture is changing, and it is not unreasonable to think that down the road there will be a push to allow homosexual leaders, and if that succeeds, a push to promote homosexuality as much as the school system already does.

The BSA is a private organization and it is well within their right to allow it or disallow that as they please and change their policies in accordance with their established procedures.  If this policy change does become the first step in a full surrender to the demands of gay activists, it will be great loss, and if they do not allow the Church the freedom to conduct a Scouting program that conforms to the standards of the gospel, they will have to find a way to go on without our participation. 

4 comments:

  1. So, what happens when a gay LDS boy - who has participated in Scouting for years - turns 18 and would like to become a Scout leader? Cross that bridge.

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    1. The policy of the BSA is that they could not become a Scout Leader. The policy of the Church is that homosexual members can participate fully in the church and all it's programs as long as they conform their lives to the moral standards of the church (just as it is for all other members).

      I know of one young man who was homosexual and served as a LDS Scout Leader back in the late 70's. I don't know if it was known that he was homosexual at the time, but he was a faithful, active member of the Church up until his untimely death in a traffic accident.

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  2. "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." ~ 1 John 3:15

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    1. OK, but "If you don't give me everything I want then you hate me." is not a very mature position to take.

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