Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Boy Scouts and Gays

"What is it about the word All that we don't understand?"

I didn’t know there were boys that could not join our Cub Scout or Boy Scout troop. This was the forties we were all lily white and there were few black boys to be seen. I never wondered back then where were the black boys my age. They didn’t go to school or church with us—so why would I have wondered. I never thought back then what it must feel like to stand on the other side of the plate glass window and peer in at what one could not do. Segregation was a terrible thing and we are still having to live with its residue. Years later when I was too old to be a Scout the color line came down and black boys could discover the joys and fun of being a scout.

And so when I read that the National organization of the Boy Scouts of America was in the process of dismantling another wall I was very proud of the Scouting movement. Gay boys could now join the Scouts  as if they were “just like us.” Of course there have always been gay scouts but they knew their place: they stayed in the closet. We were also unaware of the sexual abuse by Scout leaders which has only recently bubbled to an embarrassing surface.This whole sad chapter in scouting was kept under wraps until recently. One wonders just how much damage and destruction that was done through the years by these particular Scout leaders and the resounding silence of the organization..

What the national scouting officials have done is to put homosexuality on the table. They join much of society that has come to know that to be gay is first to be a human being with dreams and goals like the rest of the human family. There are walls enough for all of young people without adding segregating gay young men to the list of our prejudices.

The confusion has come with all those that link homosexuality with promiscuity. They say homosexuals are sinners. They say this lifestyle is wrong. They say these people are different from the rest of us. Consequently, many churches are distancing themselves from the Scouting movement. Prominent Southern Baptist Pastor, Rev. Ernest Easley of Marietta, Georgia has already led his church to cut ties with the scouts over this new policy. The large South East Christian Church in Louisville has announced plans to shut down its troop. Dr. Richard Land, Southern Baptist leader has said, “Frankly, I can’t imagine a Southern Baptist pastor who would continue to allow his church to sponsor a Boy Scout troop under these new rules.” On the flip side President Obama and Mitt Romney both have called for an end to a ban on gay scouts. Mormons and United Methodists have indicated that they would not obstruct the new policy.  One official of the United Church of Christ has said, “Cutting ties with the Boy Scouts makes no sense...because it tells gay Scouts they should be shunned.” He went on to say that such a stand sends a terrible message to youth of any sexual orientation. When we declare someone different from the crowd—they can be seen as subhuman or perverted and despised. 

We seldom link rape or incest or sexual promiscuity to the term heterosexual. We know better. These perpetrators do not represent heterosexuals. For heterosexuality is not simply about sex but the prism through which one looks at all of life.

Cannot we say the same thing about homosexuality. The perverted or the disturbed are exceptions to the rule. Take Pascal Tessier is a young 16-year-old gay scout from Kensington, Maryland. He feared that his scouting career would be cut short by the ban. Now he will be able to finish his work towards Eagle Scout, which is the highest rank in Scouting. Mr. Tessier said, “Sexuality doesn’t have any place in scouting—so why put it there?” Are we as a society going to continue to make progress until the word, all really does include everyone? Segregation in any form is wrong and detrimental to the human condition.Churches that turn their backs on gay youth are sending a powerful message. Perhaps the old Gospel song, "Whosoever will may come..." should add another phrase: with qualifications. 

I still remember the Scout oath I took years ago:

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.

What does this mean? Scouting is not just about white boys or straight boys—but just boys with no accompanying labels. They are hopefully trying to discover their real identity as human beings and reach up and claim the full promise of who they are. Gay, straight or any other of our labels—we are all children of God. Churches of all groups should reach out its arms as wide as were the Savior's.

1 comment:

  1. Very well said, Roger. I am constantly amazed at how so many Christians and churches have perverted the teachings of Christ. Jesus must be ashamed of so many who call themselves Christian.