Now that BSA has decided that conforming to social norms instead of sticking to timeless values is their priority, it may be time for some scout families to move on to something new or at least something else. Check out the link above and stay tuned over the fall as the new organization opens up, and older ones put out their welcome mat for former scouts.
—————————Original Post Below————————–
(This is an article about my Christian perspective on scouting since I am a Christian first and a scout second (or third, or fourth, etc.) — and it’s a message to my friends, colleagues and brother scouts who genuinely call on their faith in God to carry them through each day’s journey)
When I initially blogged about “A Christian Alternative to Scouting” on January 5th, I had no idea that BSA National was about to surprise us all with a discussion about changing membership practices.
After all, they had just endured a huge media storm about affirming their position based on a two-year study of current members and families feelings and opinions on the membership issue. I think most of us at the local level of scouting felt that it was unlikely to come up again for a while.
Since posting that blog article, it’s been viewed well over three hundred times — an average of about 10 times per day. I’m not bragging — in fact, I’m a bit concerned about it for a couple of reasons:
- I wonder why people are searching for this topic — is it to abandon scouting?
- I wonder what people think when the realize that my article is making the case for getting MORE involved in scouting and “owning the program, locally”?
- I wonder if they navigate away from the article before reading the whole thing.
- I wonder what God thinks about the whole situation (not my blog, but the greater stage of events!) and what He wants us to do.
I’ve deliberated whether I should post a true list of alternative programs on the blog site – – whether that would be helping people decide to give up hope, sacrifice faith, and “abandon ship!” before the vote in May, or whether I could at least be of service since some families are determined to leave anyway.
So I’ve been searching scriptures for guidance. What have I found? A lot (of course).
Let’s start with Matthew 5:11-12
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
For these verses to apply, we have to take a stand and be counted as to whose side we’re on (to be clear, we should be courteous and kind while being counted — reference Matthew 5:43-48). Slipping away from the controversy to find a quiet corner in a smaller program is delaying the inevitable and undermining support of the “moral imperative” that religious beliefs handed to us by the Creator should never be trumped by society’s “feeling of the moment”.
Additionally, since at least the time of Joshua 24:1-28, we’ve been called to choose sides. Even the current activist groups push people to give an accounting of which side they choose and then marginalize, bully and coerce those who fail to conform with their pet agenda. If scouting is obliterated over this “societal conformity” push, the next youth organization will be targeted and the next one after that, too. The difference is that when “society” finally arrives at your door step, will there be anyone else left to stand with you shoulder to shoulder or will it be a very lonely day? Should we not make a stand in faith now? You must decide – no one else should decide for you.
Matthew 5:13-16 states
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
We’re not called to be silent or invisible, we’re to shine brightly in a dark world. Seeking an alternative to engaging the world is a parallel to hiding in a bunker (or placing your light under a basket) isn’t it? However, to be fair, as a homeschooler, I don’t consider sending my children to a public school the best way to accomplish this (they’re still in training to fulfill this adult calling) so how can I convince a father to send his son to scouting if the program becomes another method of indoctrinating the world into his son’s heart? But you know what? We’re not at that point yet, and may withstand the cultural attacks for many years to come — IF we stand united, in submissive and obedient faith in God’s ability to work His will for His glory.
It is interesting that in this chapter dealing with love and relationships, Matthew 5:17-20 offers a critical distinction and reminder:
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
A friend recently stated, we’re ALL “born this way” — into a life of sin and spiritual slavery, but we have been given the opportunity to be “born anew” (John 3:3; John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:22-23). We’re referring to God’s gracious offer for us to repent and live a daily pursuit of holiness as opposed to resting on His grace to turn us into libertines who selfishly pursue pleasure in place of righteousness. We don’t have the option to call ourselves Christian and ignore Christ’s own teachings or what is plainly recorded in the Bible; however, I still find people on the internet making bizarre statements about love, grace and mercy without acknowledging the rest of the writings, or worse, mocking faith because of ceremonial laws about shellfish and such.
Continuing in Matthew five thru the end of the chapter, we’re given explicit advice on how seriously we’re to take our personal relationships — to keep them pure, to live to a high standard, and yet to love others even when the world might suggest that we should hate our enemies. Look at Matthew 5:43-48 in particular:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
See? We are called to love those who persecute us! It’s true. We are not called to hate people who we are taught could spend eternity separated from the love of God. What a horrible outcome — we should care about them enough to try to show them God’s plan of salvation. However, to be clear, loving others isn’t the same as being submissive to their leadership or manipulation — consider 2 Corinthians 6:14-18;
“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.”
Can we reconcile those two passages? Of course. We can’t help but live in this present world and try to reach out to people who haven’t received the good news of salvation, but we don’t link our relationships/responsibilities to those who are explicitly opposed to, and reject, our beliefs. Put another way, we don’t run away and hide (or hate or live in fear), nor do we voluntarily “yoke ourselves” (make a binding relationship) through agreements, marriage, contracts, membership, or submitting to accept leadership from people diametrically opposed to our worldview which is based in divine revelation (The Word) from God.
If local, faith-based, scout units MUST accept leaders who disagree with their faith practices and will actively speak out against or demonstratively flaunt those beliefs as inappropriate, then the passage from Second Corinthians is blunt and clear. We must separate from BSA. However, we’ve not arrived at that point and I’m not ready to “abandon ship!” just yet. How about you?
Further, as I had described in my initial article, we took the curriculum called “scouting” and tailored it to our needs – just like each unit does. As long as we have that freedom (protected by a National “umbrella” policy which defines the core expressive message of scouting), we’re not yoked to unrighteousness unless we’re “directed” to teach a new, unacceptable curriculum, or “forced” to yoke ourselves with people who hate the message that has been given to us by our Creator. (Neither of which has happened, yet.)
Why isn’t the “local membership policy” option an acceptable approach?
1) The core “expressive message” of scouting will have changed and the basis of the Dale verdict will be effectively vacated by the courts in subsequent rulings. It would be possible, then for a local unit to deny membership, be sued and lose.
It could also mean that local units would really only have protection if their membership policy was such that the charter organization would only allow members as leaders and participants (if you don’t belong to my church, you can’t join our troop.)
2) Boards of Review could be sticky for scouts who exercise strong spiritual faith practices. How?
Consider that in 2009, the Miss California competition declared a controversial winner — a person who didn’t take the “politically correct” route — someone who refused to compromise on her own unpopular, but heart-felt beliefs about the nature of marriage being most perfectly defined as between one man and one woman for life. The subsequent harassment of her view continued until the award was removed. Now there’s always more to a story than we fully realize and there may have been other factors at work, but we must also acknowledge that being criticized for one’s beliefs (Matthew 5:11) can have real costs, too.
Now, imagine a young man standing before his Eagle Board of Review and being asked to define “Clean, Reverent, Morally Straight, Duty To God, et.al.” If he states his true belief (no matter how respectfully and thoughtfully) and upsets the board members because he didn’t cite the politically correct response, could he be denied Eagle? Possibly! Oh, but what a testimony for his faith!
3) Even the NY Times doesn’t like this option. In fact, most of the activist groups have said that it doesn’t go far enough and they’re likely to keep up the pressure and choke-hold on charitable giving until such time that BSA requires all units to allow unrestricted membership. Bottomline, unless BSA lifts all restrictions on membership, the program will suffer persecution.
Remember — we’re not there (yet) and may not get there. Do we stand, now, and dig in? Or do we give up without any effort since we’ve already designed a strategy of retreat, retreat, retreat until we have no where left to run?
Look at Ephesians 6:10-18;
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, [WHY?] so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, [WHY?] so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,”
- So shall we stand firm, trust God, and cry out to Him daily between now and the vote in May?
- Have we sought God’s instruction in the scriptures?
- Have we written letters to BSA at the Council and National levels expressing our concern in a concise and respectful manner?
- Are we talking to families within our units about their feelings?
- Have we encouraged our CO’s to speak up or write a letter to council headquarters?
- Are we being vigilant to guard our communications — to be respectful and demonstrate love (while speaking the truth without reservation) even when confronted by mocking and hateful speech by our opponents?
- Are we talking to our local District Executive — and explaining why this is so important, or just grumbling?
- Have we engaged our non-scouting friends and brothers/sisters in Christ to pray on our behalf?
- Will you commit to trust God first and explore alternatives only if we are faced with a seeming defeat instead of an amazing victory?
God spoke the universe into existence — do you believe He can help us on this issue? Are you willing to sharpen your faith or are you giving up now with more than eight weeks to go before the vote in Texas?
It’s your call.
All scriptures used in this article come from the New American Standard Bible (NASB)