Boy Scouts of America, Love, and Leadership

What, oh what, will the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) decide about allowing gay leaders?  Will they “cave” so as not to be considered hateful and homophobic?  Will they finally “be on the right side of history” and change Source: Googletheir policy?  Even some Christian blogs and commenters are urging the BSA to lift the ban in the name of love.  Jesus wouldn’t want us to discriminate, after all.  He accepts everyone.

I don’t have any history with the BSA so I will not make a prescription on what they should do as an organization.  But I would like to address this notion that because Jesus loves everyone, one’s behavior is irrelevant.

Does Jesus love everyone?  Yes.  Does He bid all come to Him?  Yes.  Did He seek out drunkards, prostitutes, legalists and swindlers?  Yes.  Does He condone their behavior?  No.

This is what real love looks like.  Real love involves valuing the person and implementing boundaries.  It would not be loving if I affirmed my children all day long, even when they ran into the street, clocked their sister with a frying pan, and were disrespectful of their teacher.  Real love doesn’t confront and then flee.  Real love doesn’t enable destructive decisions.  Real love affirms a person’s worth and then spends the time identifying behaviors and attitude that harm themselves or others.  Real love sticks with the individual and shepherds them as they grow in maturity.

This is the love that Christ demonstrates for us.  He proves His love by giving us abundant life through His death.  He loves us through the Counselor (Holy Spirit) who comforts and guides us.  For His followers, His love compels us to take drastic measures to avoid sin.  (Matt 5:27-30)   Christ invites everyone into His world. He accepts us as we are, but does not leave us as He found us.  This is exemplified perfectly in the narrative where Jesus is challenged to stone the woman caught in adultery.  His response: “neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”  For the Christian, there are expectations that we will not be mastered by any behavior or appetite, but rather that He alone will be our Master.

So anyone can come to Christ as they are.  But biblically, not everyone can lead.  There is a level of maturity and self-control required of leaders within the home and within the church.  Here are the basic qualifications for leadership as laid out in 1 Timothy 3:8-12

In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 11 In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well.

I am not going to place myself, or my children, under the authority of anyone who cannot control themselves sexually, doesn’t parent well, gets drunk, is a cheater, cannot resolve conflict biblically, and who does not conduct themselves respectfully.

There are cries from some that the BSA’s policy prohibiting gay people within leadership is unloving.  However, there is no contradiction between loving those with whom you disagree and being discerning regarding under whose authority you place your children.  In our home, everyone is welcome and we serve gay and straight, believer and non-believer alike.  But when I allow someone to lead or teach my children, I scrutinize their character and behavior.  Why?  Because a life of righteousness is more caught than taught.

Modeling matters.

19 thoughts on “Boy Scouts of America, Love, and Leadership

  1. Totally agree! I was a Boy Scout growing up, and would have no problem with another boy who thinks they may be gay participating in scouting events, just as I would have them sit next to me in church. But the rub comes on strongly about leaders…that is a whole other conversation.

    I’m glad they didn’t make this decision lightly and quickly in the name of political correctness. I hope they seriously discern God’s direction with this decision.

  2. One question that comes to mind: Does being gay necessarily mean that one is not able to fulfill the responsibilities of leadership within the organization as defined by the same? In other words, might it be possible for the homosexual to lead as a Scout leader without any reference at all to his sexual orientation?

    • Thanks for the comment. I really don’t know a lot about the BSA, but there probably ARE gay men and women in leadership roles now. They just aren’t revealing that information. Because sexual orientation is not like race or gender, it is something that you can disclose or not. So if the policy was changed, leaders would be able to talk about their attractions, choices and self-identification. Because they are in a leadership role it would amount to is an endorsement of homosexual behavior, would it not?

      • Well, I too have to admit I don’t know a lot about the BSA. (Nope, I was never a Scout! LOL) Anyway, from what I do know of the BSA program, there is not a lot, if any, discussion of sexual orientation. Perhaps this has changed, but if it has not then I suppose I might concede that teaching boys to tie knots, pitch tents and use a compass is something homosexuals can do as well as heterosexuals. Of course, you make an excellent point about policy change being tantamount to endorsement, too, which actually loops back to my question of how we as society approach and answer such fundamentally important questions, which are (or at least seem to be) morally constituted.

      • Do the straight men who are the scout leaders talk about their attractions, choices, etc with the boy scouts that they are leading? I doubt it very much, so why do you think a gay leader would do that? It’s just not appropriate whether gay or straight. You guys are getting all bent out of shape over this in my opinion!

        • Judy, thanks for commenting. I agree with you that no leader should be drawing attention to their sexual choices. And, as stated above, there are likely plenty of able knot-tying-hiking-camping BSA leaders currently who are same sex attracted and just not highlighting that aspect of their life. Several years ago the BSA won a court battle to uphold this ban when an outspoken homosexual activist was denied the right to lead. Likely that is why the BSA reiterated today:

          “we do not grant membership [to leaders] who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA”

          The leader that they denied access to WAS making his sexuality the issue and therefore was excluded.

  3. I think the FIRST MISTAKE was to change to Scouts of America, instead of Boy Scouts of America. That is the way it starts.

  4. My posting addressed glbt children within the Boy Scouts. I haven’t given a lot of thought to gay leadership within the troops because then I have to think about gay teachers in the school, gay soldiers in the military, gay people at every level of government, and in a variety of jobs and services. At what point do we stop instituting bans? And why ban gays here but not over there? You see what I’m saying?
    I do agree with you that we have to consider the impact upon our kids of those who are engaging in sin and how we are to deal with it as Christians. I have to think about this some more.

    • Thank you, my greatly admired blogging friend. Does the BSA have a ban on LGBT youth? I thought that they only had a policy regarding leadership. Do you have a link to the BSA stance on LGBT youth?

    • I’ve been noodling over the other aspect of your comment. Teaching and modeling virtue is core part of their mission. 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.” Being a private organization, they get to choose how they define virtue. In the 1990 case of BSA vs. avowed gay activist Dale, The Boy Scouts asserts that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the values embodied in the Scout Oath and Law, particularly with the values represented by the terms “morally straight” and “clean.”

      You mention teachers, soldiers, government leaders. Is their role to primarily teach virtue? And it’s not like there is a widespread acceptance of the definition of virtue anyway. (While teachers are not primarily supposed to teach morals, but I know several Christian kids who have been accosted for their views on morality by a public school teacher.)

      I have to go back to the diversity of people who identify themselves as “gay”. Just because someone experiences same-sex attraction doesn’t mean that they act on or endorse homosexual behavior. (see “The reality of Sexual Orientation” The BSA rightly singles out “homosexual conduct” to be the object of their prohibitions, rather than same-sex attraction. If anyone is in need of what the boy scouts have to offer- identification with same-sex peers, camaraderie, and loving male role models the it is youth who are wrestling through same-sex attraction.

  5. Thanks for the post. Since the Scouts are primarily a Christian organizations, with their roots established in Scripture. To allow openly gay leaders is a clear contradiction of their foundational principles.

  6. Pingback: The Boy Scouts- Who’da Thought? | asktheBigot

  7. As someone who was deeply involved in Boy Scouts I can share some considerations here.

    Warrioress wondered about how scout leaders might relate to school teachers. Here’s the difference: teachers don’t take you out into the deep woods without your parents and spend the night with you. It is not uncommon for a single adult leader to take a troop out camping and have one of the boys share the leader’s tent (as a sort of leadership privilege). These are teen and preteen boys. Would you want a man to do this with girls of this age? Would you want a woman to do this with boys? Why would you think it a neutral proposition for a man who is attracted to males to be put in this position? It’s not a matter of bigotry; it’s a matter of basic prudence.

    Likewise, the boys are spending the night together — often paired off one-on-one in tents. Would you think to do this with mixed-sex youth? Are those with same-sex attractions supposed to be more virtuous and sexually prudent than heterosexual boys? These boys are at the age where they are coming to terms with their sexuality. Trust me, at these campouts, in the privacy of the woods, there is much talk and pondering about sex. My sisters can vouch for the libedo of these fellows.

    Injecting any kind of sexual dynamic into this mix is asking for trouble. It is only of no concern if one believes that sexual encounters at B.S. Jamborees is A-Okay. If that’s okay, then send in the girls as well.

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