The Boy Scouts, as by now you know, has decided to allow in gay scouts while keeping two prohibitions. The first is that which prevents gay scout leaders. The second, which has gone mostly without notice, is the prohibition on sexual activity by scouts.
This has put many Christians in a position they never asked to be in, in a fight they never asked for — if being gay is not a sin, but homosexual practice is a sin, how then are they to exclude gay scouts who cannot practice homosexuality?
It is a complicated issue and the most trite answer from those who are angered at many churches withdrawing from the scouts is to mock them claiming they want only non-sinners in the scouts or only want the exclusion of one sin.
Johnson Ferry Baptist Church outside Atlanta, whose pastor, Bryant Wright, had been the head of the Southern Baptist Church, just made the decision to leave the scouts. I highly encourage you to watch Bryant Wright explain the church’s decision.
Many see this as a sign that the Southern Baptist Convention will withdraw from the Boy Scouts of America. Many also look at this and lament what it will mean to the children involved in the scouts. It’s true — this is a no win situation we should all view with great sadness. But for those whose focus is on the kids, there is another side too — the churches who sponsor scout troops.
Here’s the problem for the churches — we are all born with a propensity to sin, but a growing secular chorus wishes to exclude homosexual practice from the list.
Feel free to disagree with them, but at least try to understand where they are coming from.
While we can all agree that lying, adultery, greed, vanity, pride, gluttony, failing to honor our parents, idolatry, and the like are sins, some will be offended by putting homosexuality on the list. To deny it — to say that God makes all things perfect so someone born gay is perfect — is to pit yourself against 2000 years of Christian orthodoxy. I dare say I’ll go with a consistent 2000 years of Christian orthodoxy than you and your feelings.
To be clear, being gay in the sense that one might be attracted to the same sex, is not a sin. It’s actually engaging in a physical same sex relationship that is the sin and that presents the conundrum. We live in a world where we cannot teach abstinence education — the only sure fire way to avoid pregnancy and STD’s — because the left tells us the kids are going to do it anyway. Likewise, with few exceptions, it does little to say being gay is not the sin, but engaging in sexual relations with the same sex is, because the left only chooses to make that distinction at times like this. After all, they tell us the kids are going to do it anyway.
I dare say the gay people I know who, because of their deep faith in Christ, shun physical relationships, are treated more as outcasts by the gay community than their church community.
In the modern age, the loudest voices of amorality tell us we cannot accept the sinner without also accepting their sin.
Christians are taught to love everyone, but we are specifically taught not to accept sin. In the story many of the “stop judging me” crowd note, the Pharisees wanted to stone an adulteress. Christ told them “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” But Christ went on to forgive the adulteress, showing her compassion, and told her, “go, and from now on sin no more.”
When the modern age doesn’t think homosexuality is a sin, the modern age runs head long into scripture. Those who think Christ wouldn’t condemn homosexual practice — like Rob Bell — are left asking where Jesus actually, specifically mentioned homosexual practice.
In the same way the Devil asked Eve, “‘Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
This comes into play in the fight over whether one is born gay or chooses to be gay. I’d venture to say it is some of both, but many on both sides are all or nothing. It seems irrelevant to me in that we are all born with a propensity to sin — again the list: greedy, liars, adulterers, swindlers, idolaters, gay, etc.… (again judge your own reaction by putting that last one there). Saying God made us all perfect, therefore being gay cannot be a sin, sounds great as pop culture theology, but in real theology, God made us perfect and we corrupted our own nature such that we are born into sinning. Only Christ himself survived being tempted and not falling into that temptation. Again, I’ll take 2000 years of Christian orthodoxy over you and your feelings on the subject. What makes you right and 2000 years of consistent Christian scholarship wrong? The burden is on you.
Therein lies the problem for the churches. A boy who identifies as gay is not going to tolerate being told his lifestyle choice is sinful. The Scouts teach that boys are to be “morally straight,” which would put both the churches and the individual scouts in an awkward and uncomfortable position.
We know that the Boy Scouts of America have let in gay scouts if only because I hear from gay scouts that they want the scouting program they were in to be tolerant now of openly gay scouts.
Isn’t that the point for the churches though?
Tolerance of sin is not a Christian virtue. Christ said “sin no more.” The churches running the scout programs are not going to teach boys they are morally flawed, but exempt the gay scouts. There have always been gay scouts, just not openly gay scouts.
They want now a recognition orthodox Christian churches cannot give. Consider, as an aside, this fantastically awesome post at Huffington Post demanding that Southern moderates rally to shut me up. The author’s major problem with me relates to rather orthodox expressions of Christian faith, though he takes a few out of context. Homosexual practice is clearly a sin in the Bible — consistent from Old Testament to New Testament. But gay rights activists will not be satisfied until everyone who believes this is shut up.
Further, once the gay scouts grow up and become more vocal and see more legitimacy from the scouts, the rest of the prohibitions will fall. “Morally straight” will be a moral straightness conforming to a secular world.
Churches see this first vote by the Boy Scouts as, so to speak, the wall at Helms Deep breached or the Maginot Line crossed.
We all like sheep have gone astray and we all fall short of the glory of God. But at this point in society, a lot of forces hostile to the church want the church to accept sinners and their sins, which they cannot do.
One cannot teach moral straightness when one lifestyle is not morally straight unless celibate — a decision few will make and most will ridicule.
So it is better for churches to just go on and opt out.
If you don’t have a problem with what the scouts did, you should not have a problem with the churches leaving. We all have freedom to associate as we please except, more and more, the left chooses that we should be compelled to not just associate, but accept the things our faith says we cannot.
A faith that stands firm against the tide of the ages is perhaps the most radical, disruptive force on the planet these days. And frankly, the scouts did not stand firm.
I am reminded of Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia who, in 2012 in the fight over Catholic Charities and abortion, wrote:
As the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb observed more than a decade ago, “What was once stigmatized as deviant behavior is now tolerated and even sanctioned; what was once regarded as abnormal has been normalized.” But even more importantly, she added, “As deviancy is normalized, so what was once normal becomes deviant. The kind of family that has been regarded for centuries as natural and moral – the ‘bourgeois’ family as it is invidiously called – is now seen as pathological” and exclusionary, concealing the worst forms of psychic and physical oppression.
My point is this: Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God.
A faith that stands firm will be tested, even to the point of breaking, but must still stand and be a beacon for all in both love and truth. You will be made to care.