A Friend and the BSA

Philly_ScoutA few weeks ago, a friend of mine approached me about the Boy Scouts of America and their decision to “openly embrace gays.” She mentioned a new organization, patterned after  the BSA, that would exclude boys based on sexual orientation. I told her that I wasn’t interested and that I still fully supported the BSA. The conversation that followed was quite interesting.

Sleeping Arrangements

At some point in the conversation, she asked if I was comfortable with a homosexual boy sleep in a tent with my son. (In truth, I am probably far more comfortable with it than my son is!) She also asked what’s the difference between that and allowing boys and girls to go on trips and bunk down in tents together, something she knows I would never support.

As I thought about it, I realized there were three problems with her objections:

  1. Assuming there is a risk of mutual attraction. Putting heterosexual boys and girls together for the night automatically opens up the risk of mutual attraction, and therefore, sexual activity. Putting a homosexual boy in with heterosexual boys doesn’t seem to run that risk.
  2. Assuming that having a homosexual orientation is equivalent to being a predator. The last time I checked, those two were not positively linked. Somehow, in the “christian world,” we have made the jump anyway. Where do we get off assuming that homosexual tendencies/desires means “completely unable to control myself”? Why would a homosexual boy be more likely to make unwanted advances than a heterosexual one? Because of the nature of American society, sexual orientation is a big deal. Sex itself is a big deal. I’m much more worried about societal emphasis on sex in general than am I about my son having to turn down another boy’s advances.
  3. Assuming that putting a homosexual boy in with heterosexual boys would suddenly encourage all of them to experiment with homosexual behavior. If so, is that something we lay at the feet of a child? Was the boy in question responsible for teaching my children about moral behavior, the love of God, and why He sets standards? Did association with a homosexual suddenly rob my son of his agency and ability to choose? The last time I checked, it was my responsibility to raise my son to be above reproach. If something goes wrong, it’s on him and on me.

Setting an Example for Our Sons

Another objection she raised was about setting an example for our sons. The implication was that, by treating a homosexual boy with dignity and respect, I would be sending the message to my son that homosexuality was “ok” or “no longer a real sin.” I don’t get it. If I reach out to help someone who is receiving welfare, does that teach my son that he doesn’t need to get a job and make his own way in the world? If I had the opportunity to help a drug addict get clean or find medical care (or anything else), am I showing my son that I want him to do drugs? How then am I morally winking at homosexuality by treating someone with the respect they deserve?

I’m more concerned that, if I allow him to learn to exclude classes of people, I will be teaching him that being a Christian is a sometimes thing. Even though my scriptures tell me that Jesus wants me to love everyone and that God will accept anyone that is willing to turn to Him and follow the things that He asks of us, I would be sending my son the message that I can ignore those teachings when I believe what someone is doing is reprehensible enough. I guess churches should stop all prison ministries, then, because the people in there have done bad things, too.

Supporting Christian Values

What exactly are “Christian Values”?

My scriptures tell me that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, and meekness. When the prophet Joseph Smith wrote the 13 Articles of Faith, his concluding thoughts were “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men….”

I have never found an instance in my life when being nice to someone, regardless of who they are or what they support, has caused me to be less virtuous or faithful. I can’t see where that alone sends a message to anyone that I support what they support.

On the other hand, I have seen and experienced many examples where rejecting or demeaning someone for who they are or what they support has hurt them deeply. I have seen bigotry in the name of God do damage that it will take a miracle to undo. I would rather be faulted for showing love to those that my scriptures teach me are literally my brothers and sisters because we are all spiritual children of a Heavenly Father than to have to stand before my Father and try to explain why I rejected those He sent me to love and watch over.

To Sum it Up

I cannot, in good faith, reverse my position on redefining the institution of marriage. Even if I take religion out of the picture, I think we, as a society, know far too little about human sexuality to begin redefining a basic unit of society. In simply reducing the importance and value of marriage, I think we have already done inestimable damage to society. I am very reluctant to make a change that might do more harm when there are so many unanswered questions and conflicting evidences. Adding my faith and my experiences with Heavenly Father back in, I simply cannot support the idea of marriage occurring other than between a man and a woman.

On the other hand, I will not join in the polarization that appears to be taking place. I will not be coerced, cajoled, or cow-towed into being intolerant (or worse) to those who are not like me. I truly believe that each person I meet is a brother or a sister, and I reserve the right to respect them, love them, and treat them with dignity. (My regrets usually stem from the days and moments when I have shown my mortal side and been less than I want to be.)

I have to wonder how many homosexuals my friends who are pushing for exclusion have ever known. While I’m not a fixture in the local scene, I know and have known a few. Funny thing is, I find my homosexual friends to be just as loving, humanitarian-minded, hard-working, and friendship-worthy as my heterosexual circle. I rely on their input and viewpoints to give me a more rounded perspective on my world. I value their honesty and their love.

I find myself longing to live in a world where we focus on the real matters of life, instead of things that make up only a small portion of who we are. And, I intend to continue as a cub scout den leader and supporter of the BSA.