Gays and Scouting
I was a Boy Scout for over 12 years. I eventually became a Scoutmaster. One of the most influential men in my life was my amazing scoutmaster, Dale. Dale was also a homosexual.
We didn’t know Dale was gay at the time. He was a former Marine, married with three children, who selflessly gave of himself at every turn for his scouts. Every boy in the troop admired and respected him. And to the best of our knowledge he never violated the trust of either the boys, our parents or the church that sponsored our troop.
Nevertheless, I agree with the current position of the Boy Scouts of America, that homosexuals should not serve as scoutmasters and here’s why. Who matters the most? There is a hierarchy of stakeholders in scouting. By that I mean, there are people or institutions whose interests and welfare, should take priority in scouting and I’ll list them in descending order.
1. The individual scout – the boys themselves 2. The parents of the scouts 3. The sponsoring institution (generally a church or school) 4. The scoutmaster and other leaders
The gay rights movement has made this issue, all about the “rights” of the scoutmasters and are quite willing to disregard the rights and welfare of the most important stakeholders in scouting – the boys and their parents.
What parents want most for their sons in scouting. Parents entrust their sons to their leaders with these goals in mind; • Skills training – Parents expect their boys will learn outdoor, leadership and life skills that build confidence, competency and teamwork. • Character formation – Parents expect leaders to teach and live out the virtues of the Scout Law and Oath. They also expect scoutmasters to re-enforce the virtues and values being taught at home. • Safety – Parents expect their sons to be kept safe physically, morally, relationally (no bullying), and sexually.
In my research, I’ve come to understand that homosexuality and pedophilia are two separate issues. I didn’t always understand that and just assumed if you were gay that you were attracted to anyone of the same sex. That’s not true!
According to the Catholic Church’s own internal investigation of sexual abuse among priests, and other reliable sources, most pedophiles are actually heterosexual, and only a small percentage of homosexuals are also pedophiles. However, even if it’s true that homosexual scoutmasters are no more likely to be pedophiles, than heterosexuals, I still have these serious issues with putting homosexual scoutmasters in positions of authority with young men.
1. Does the gay scoutmaster approve or live a gay lifestyle? And if so, does putting an openly gay scoutmaster as an authority figure, send conflicting signals to these young boys, if their parents believe a homosexual lifestyle is a sin? (Even if parents don’t believe simply being gay is a sin).
2. Having a gay scoutmaster go on campouts where boys are naked or only partially clothed at times, has to be a great temptation for them, more so than a heterosexual man. Let’s not forget – not all scouts are little boys. They are ages 12-17. These are young men who are likely to become increasingly attractive sexually, to a gay scoutmaster, who may have absolutely no interest in children.
Nobody thinks it would be wise to allow a heterosexual woman to be a scoutmaster, or a man to be a Girl Scout leader for the same reasons. It’s not because they may be pedophiles. It’s because we’re all subject to sexual temptation. Why do we think otherwise, with a gay man? Why put that temptation in a gay scoutmaster’s way? And why create uncertainty in parents? As much as my parents personally respected my scoutmaster, had they known Dale was gay, I’m confidant they would have pulled me from scouts.
3. The sponsoring institution may be a church. They have the right to put people in leadership who reflect the theological and moral teachings of the church. I know of a troop in my town, who asked a scoutmaster to step down because he had an affair. They thought his actions no longer qualified him to be a role model to boys morally, regardless of his other qualifications. One of the phrases in the Scout Oath is, that scouts are “morally straight.” (pure)
My church is so serious about making sure kids are safe, that we require two adults at every overnight activity. And either both of the adults must sleep in the same room, or neither of them may sleep in the same room, with high school students or younger. And these are the leaders who we believe are heterosexual!
I’m sympathetic to the argument that we’re disqualifying good leaders, simply because they’re gay. But those making that argument are missing the point. Scouting is all about the boys. What’s best for them? The reason the gay rights movement is making this an issue, is they will not rest until everyone accepts homosexuality and homosexual sex, normal and natural. Any attempt to ask reasonable questions about the wisdom of putting men who we know are attracted to other men, in close proximity to impressionable heterosexual young men, are dismissed as homophobic. Scouting is first and foremost about what’s good for the boys. Lets keep it that way.
What about allowing gay young men into scouting? I personally would not bar any young man from being in Boy Scouts, simply because he is gay. Scouting is an amazing organization and to deny any young man that experience would be unkind and unfair. However, I’d also accept the decision of any parent to pull their son out of scouting, because another scout is gay.
The primary difference between my position on gay scoutmasters, versus gay scouts, boils down to this; A scoutmaster is an adult and an authority figure, who a younger man might find it difficult to say “no” to. (A month ago, I met with a pastor who is not gay, who was sexually violated by his scoutmaster, because he was told by the scoutmaster, “this is what real men do” and he didn’t know what to say at age 14, to an adult. My pastor friend has no idea to this day if his former scoutmaster was actually gay or not, but he was an authority figure.)
That’s a completely different situation than a scout being approached by another boy who is homosexual, but a peer and being tempted sexually. Sexual temptation is a sad reality and wise parents will have discussed sexual temptation of all kinds to their teenage sons.
Final comments As you’ve noticed, I’ve purposely chosen not to make this a Christian issue, although for Christian parents, it should be. I did so, because the gay rights movement often positions Christians as being anti-gay. I believe the Bible is clear that same sex, sex is a sin. However, I wanted to provide Christians with some common sense talking points, that even most non-Christians should agree with. But, I’ll leave you with this warning from Jesus.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6
Next week, I’ll begin a series of blogs on talking points to help you engage in thoughtful, biblical conversations with your family and friends on a full range of homosexual issues.
How following Jesus works in real life.
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