The Scout Oath:
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.
A week ago a decision was made by the Boy Scouts of America to change their membership rules and allow all boys to join the Scouts, regardless of their proclaimed sexual orientation.
This ruffled many feathers, including our own Scoutmaster’s, who immediately resigned his position. According to news reports from various sites, he isn’t the only one and several churches have backed off as sponsors of Boy Scouts as well.
And this all bothers me greatly.
I’m probably going to offend several people on both sides of the issue, but this topic has been eating at me for a while now and typing it out is helping me form an opinion on the subject that I feel I can discuss. Or debate. Or just write about so I can stop obsessing about it.
The people who are quitting, including our Scoutmaster, have been saying allowing homosexual children to be members of the scouting program is an abomination and supporting a sinful lifestyle. And since the Scout Oath states a Scout does duty to God, then the now ex-Scouts turn to the Bible to learn what their duty is. And their interpretation of the Bible verses condemning homosexuality means we cannot support homosexuals in any way. Those who are quitting are telling me that homosexuals shouldn’t be a part of anything. I am not quoting here, I’m just paraphrasing based on various Facebook statuses and news reports I have read.
Since I’ve already said this bothers me, you probably have figured out that I disagree with our ex-Scoutmaster.
Except, I kind of agree with him. The point I agree on is this: homosexuality is a sin. It is a sin because it is sexual immorality. It is a sin in the same way heterosexuals who have sex before marriage are sinning. Sex is an act reserved for a man and woman who are married. It is not shameful, it is something God created. He created it to be enjoyed within the confines of marriage.
However, since I believe all sin is equal, I think we have to treat all the sins the same. And this is where I probably part ways with our ex-Scoutmaster. The issue at hand is sexual immorality. Are we going to ask leaders who are having sex outside of marriage to quit Scouts? Are we going to tell a Boy Scout who impregnated his girlfriend he can’t be Scout anymore? (According to another Scoutmaster I asked this question to, the answer is no.)
I can’t turn away children based on a sin I can’t judge. I just won’t do that to any person really. Sin is sin is sin, no matter how it is manifested. I believe I’m a sinner, my children are sinners, we are all sinners and in need of God’s love, His mercy, His grace. Unless the sin is causing physical harm, or mental/ emotional abuse, I will not close the doors or walk away.
However, I believe the sin is not the true issue that is splintering the Boy Scouts of America. Here is something I think most people who are leaving Scouts have been dishonest to themselves about: Scouts is not a Christian organization. It may have been at one point, but in the 103 year tradition, the word “God” found in the Scout Oath has been interpreted to mean “Your duty to God is to follow the teachings of your religious leaders always.” And not all the religious organizations that have had affiliation with BSA are what I would call Christian.
For instance, I studied Baha’i in my Sociology of Religion class and their teachings are not centered on Christ at all. And I know enough about Buddhists to know they too are not teaching about Christ, nor are they all preaching against homosexuality. These are two examples of religions that are affiliated with BSA and have, in my opinion, made the “duty to God” in the Scout Oath ambiguous.
If Scouts were truly wanting to maintain a Christian-like appearance, then they would have maintained affiliation with Christ centered organizations only. And instead of pushing the religious part of scouts off to the side in a separate curriculum, they would stand behind Christian principals by teaching Biblical basis for the Scout Oath and the Scout Law alongside learning to pitch a tent, use a pocket knife, and hike safely.
Changing the membership rules allowed those who have been fooling themselves behind the screen of Christianity to throw up their hands and admit the truth. Boy Scouts do not equal Christian men.
I do not find the change in membership rules to be surprising. Personally, if they had changed the rules and removed “duty to God” from the oath, we would still be participating in Scouts today. We don’t send our son to Scouts for religious instruction. We do that at home and through our own church, who we trust to help us guide our children in our beliefs.
I’m sad our Scoutmaster decided to give up on something he was really good at. And if his interpretation of duty to God is to shut out children who want to learn leadership and outdoor skills, then maybe it is better he walked away. But our family won’t.