Saturday, May 25, 2013

Thoughts on the recent BSA Change of Policy

I have been at Annual Conference for the Genesis Conference of the Free Methodist Church USA the last couple days, so keeping up with the news was not high on my list of priorities. It wasn't until my wife and I stopped at a rest area that I saw the headline through the window of a USA Today dispenser.

The Boy Scouts of America has reversed its decision to keep those who struggle with or are involved in homosexuality out of the scouts, as they saw it as not being aligned with moral uprightness, while still maintaining that those who are in position of leadership cannot be practicing homosexuals. I didn't need to read the article, everything I needed to know was summed up in the title. I can't tell you how saddened I was to read that title.

Now I should preface what I am going to write next with my involvement with the Boy Scouts can be best described as limited. In second and third grade I was a Weeblo in the Cub Scouts, but I didn't continue on to become a Boy Scout. Then, quite a few years later through a good friend of mine, I became the Weeblos Director at a Cub Scout camp near my home at the time. For that I had to once again join the BSA. And that has been the extent of my involvement officially. So, on one level, the decision didn't affect me personally nearly as much as I know it will some others. But on another level, I can't help but think of what is going to come of this.

Organizations that have a stated purpose of developing the moral character of young men is something that is desperately needed. I would obviously extend that to the moral development of young women is necessary too, but since this is about the Boy Scouts and not the Girl Scouts please indulge this lack of inclusion from here on. Although my personal experience was limited, I could greatly appreciate the lessons being taught went beyond learning how to tie knots and rub two sticks together to make fire.

I believed also that it was quite a bold statement that, in the view of the BSA, homosexuality did not fit into what they believed was their stated purpose of helping young men develop strong moral character. It didn't say that homosexuals could not be moral people, or good people could not be homosexuals, but that in their view such a way of life was not compatible with their mission. Whether it had something to do with churches sponsoring the Boy Scouts, or just an innate sense, I don't know. But given the current cultural climate and the tendency to label anything that didn't fall in line with it as "hateful", it was something that they had a stated belief about and were not going to disregard it. I could applaud them for that.

Now the door has been opened, and the policy has been changed to one that has stepped out of line with its own history. I have had to stop my applauding.

I need to make this very clear: I don't hate homosexuals, and I don't hate those who practice the homosexual lifestyle. I have friends whom I consider to be friends (and that word friend is one that I take very seriously, I don't use that with just everyone I know) who are homosexuals or who struggle with it. They know where I stand.

When I read scripture I don't read where hatred of people is condoned, but I also read that our real enemy is the principalities and powers that seek to undermine and destroy that which God created. It is sin, and the forces that exist behind the sin, that I hate.

I also gladly affirm that God indeed loves homosexuals and those who struggle with homosexuality. Jesus died for every single one of us because of His great love for us. And all of us were unworthy of that love. But, it wasn't God's love that saved me from my sin. It was His love for me that opened the door for me to be saved, but scripture does not say "By God's love you were saved". Ephesians 2 makes it clear that love motivated Jesus to die for us, but it is grace through faith that we are saved. God's love for us did not condone sin, but sought a way for us to be free from it. And God's love didn't save anybody else from their sin either.

Our culture appears to be defining love as acceptance, but that has never been how love is defined. Even in looking at the various types of love that exist, particularly the four types the Greeks understood, a parent out of love for their child will discipline their child when they do wrong. I don't have children yet, but I remember one particularly painful experience for me when I was watching my nieces. I took them to the general store in town to get some ice cream, and when we were heading back out to the car I noticed they had taken some candy from the display. I had not paid for it, and they didn't have any money of their own. They had stolen the candy. I love my nieces very much, so much that I am willing to do anything for them as long as it does not commit me to sin against God. But because I love them I made them take the candy they had stolen back to the lady they had stolen it from, and they both had to stand in front of her and confess to her what they had done. They were crying, they didn't want to do that, and I was embarrassed, being a pastor in that community. But beyond my own embarrassment and their tears, I could not accept what they had done, and so I stood there with them and held their little hands while they confessed and talked with the lady they had stolen the candy from.

I love my wife, and she loves me. We declared as much to each other in our vows. Because of that love I have for her I cannot simply do whatever I want and believe she will be fine with it. Neither can she do that with me.

On top of that, I save myself for my wife, and for her only. She does the same with me. Our love for each other means we cannot love anyone else the way we love each other without it violating the love we have for each other and the love we have for God.

God loves us so much that He sent His Son into the world that, through His grace and His grace alone, that comes by faith in Him and Him alone, we would be saved.

But culture says that loving is accepting, and it isn't. I love homosexuals the same way I love anyone else, the way God loves each and every one of us. But that doesn't mean I accept the way they live.

Instead of listening to the church like it has traditionally done, I believe the BSA followed the way our culture is going instead.

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