Friday, October 19, 2012

BSA Ban on Homosexuality is Antithetical to LDS Doctrine


The Boy Scouts of America's policy with regard to homosexuals is spelled out as follows: “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals.” (see http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2012/06/07/boy-scouts-of-america-clarifies-its-membership-policy/)

Here are two good doctrinal reasons why members of the LDS Church should believe that the Scout's policy with regard to homosexuality is wrong:

1. According to the teachings of Jesus Christ, we are to "eat" and "associate" with sinners. Therefore it is wrong to exclude people from the BSA (the young men's activity arm of the Church) for homosexuality, even if it is a sin (which it need not be, see point 2).
2. According to LDS doctrine, open admission of homosexuality (in the sense of being attracted to the same gender, much as heterosexuality means being attracted to the opposite gender), without action upon those tendencies, is not a sin (as taught by Elder Oaks). Therefore it is wrong for the BSA to exclude people for this non-sinful action in and of itself (as they currently do).

While I support their right, as a private organization, to set their own rules of association and membership, I also support my right to complain about their rules when those rules are immoral, or otherwise dangerous or damaging. As they are in this case.

8 comments:

David Carroll said...

As to point 1, this is not a case of 'eating' or 'associating' with people who are openly homosexual. This would be much closer to asking such a person to tutor our young men and help them form and solidify their identity as men, both in the eyes of the world, and the eyes of God. The line between association and acceptance is not a fine one. The BSA policy is tolerant in that it does not force volunteers or members to make a statement about their sexual orientation or do a background check on such things. But if the issue comes up, that's the end of it.

As for point 2, there is a difference between admitting to having feelings for the same gender and declaring oneself to be homosexual. I don't believe that line is as fine as you are painting here. It is rare to have someone stand up and say, yes I'm gay, but I've never experimented and I don't plan to. The Catholic Church attempted to take 'Celebate Homosexuals' into their priesthood, and we all know how that turned out. This isn't only about a fear of the leader abusing the kids. Some parents believe that fear is enough to keep their kids home from scouting if the leader were gay. But, as I stated before, this is about who you allow to teach your children about self-identity and a relationship with God.

Lincoln Cannon said...

Should we allow persons openly declaring and making an issue of their heterosexuality to teach our children about self-identity and a relationship with God? Scouts should not be about the sexual identity of any of its constituents. Until the BSA policy reflects this concern without bias against an unpopular minority, it will be rightly characterized as bigotry.

James Carroll said...

@David Carroll: Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I would like to respond to a few of your ideas.

In your response to my point 1, you seem to have latched on to the "gay leader" idea, and forgotten the "gay scout" issue, perhaps because one was easier for you to deal with than the other. Let me explain why this IS INDEED related to Christ's command for us to eat with sinners (if it is even a sin to be homosexual, which we will deal with later on. For now, let's just assume that you are right, and that it is, and show that your conclusion doesn't follow).

The scouts IS the activities arm of our Church's Young Men's program. And so long as that is the case, then denying homosexual scouts access to that program is akin to refusing to let them participate in the Church, or refusing to let your kids play with them etc. It's refusing to "eat with sinners". It's contrary to the teachings of Christ. And ultimately it's a form of institutionalized bullying. (As someone who was wrongfully accused of being gay by the other scouts in my troop, I know whereof I speak on this point).

It's also an inconsistent message. We allow even practicing homosexuals to attend Church, we allow them to attend Young Women's activities, to attend sacrament meetings, to attend priesthood and relief society meetings, to attend young adult activities, and to attend ward parties etc. But we DON'T allow them to attend Young Men's activities (because those are all scouting activities). Why? Does Christ's command to socialize even with sinners extend to young women's activities, but not to young men's activities? Why? Why are we getting this so right in one context, and so wrong in another?

James Carroll said...

Now, on to point 2. You wrote: "...there is a difference between admitting to having feelings for the same gender and declaring oneself to be homosexual." How? I was heterosexual long before I actually got married and started having heterosexual sex. Why in your world does heterosexual = attracted to the opposite sex, while homosexual=attracted to the same sex, AND engaging in sexual activity with them? Ultimately, your definition makes no sense. But even if it did make sense, you can't make up your own definitions and expect to communicate with others effectively. Homosexuality means "attracted to the same gender" regardless of sexual activity, and even regardless of whether the person self identifies as homosexual.

But your argument here is beside the point. The scouting policy uses the term "homosexual" and doesn't further define it. Which means that regardless of how YOU define homosexuality, the policy has no nuanced definition. Which means that the scout's policy is to exclude people you define as having "same sex attraction" whether or not they are active homosexuals. And that is wrong, whether or not you are right about the best definitions.

"It is rare to have someone stand up and say, yes I'm gay, but I've never experimented and I don't plan to."

It isn't as rare as you think. I know a proudly and openly homosexual Elder's Quorum teacher (D. Christian Harrison). Mitch Mayne is an openly homosexual member of a Bishoprick. Josh Weed is another. There are many more than you think.

And I also know several closeted Mormon homosexuals who self identify as homosexual (at least two of which serve faithfully in the scouting program, one as a calling, and another as his actual job). BOTH say that they WISH that they could tell the world that they are homosexual. They both say that having to keep their orientation a secret makes their ability to find support to deal with their complex lives much more difficult. But they must remain silent in order to keep their callings/jobs, and this is damaging to them, to their families, and ultimately to the society and Church in which they find themselves.

So ultimately, the policy doesn't prevent homosexuals from being scouts, or from being scout leaders. Instead, all it does is make sure that these people remain in the closet, don't get the help and support that they need, and insures that the kids are less exposed to the need for compassion and to prevent bullying.

In short, this scouting policy is flawed and dangerous and inappropriate on every conceivable level.

James Carroll said...

@David Carroll: I am disapointed that you never responded to my comments. I am curious what you thought about them. Also, have you seen this:

http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-statement-boy-scouts-of-america

It just came out today, and is the Church's official statement with regard to the BSA's recent proposed membership changes. It seems that they approve of it, as I suggested that LDS doctrine would demand.

James Carroll said...

@David Carroll: I am disapointed that you never responded to my comments. I am curious what you thought about them. Also, have you seen this:

http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-statement-boy-scouts-of-america

It just came out today, and is the Church's official statement with regard to the BSA's recent proposed membership changes. It seems that they approve of it, as I suggested that LDS doctrine would demand.

Perry said...

David Carroll wrote:

"This would be much closer to asking such a person to tutor our young men and help them form and solidify their identity as men, both in the eyes of the world,"

Really? The eyes of the WORLD is watching me, when I was 9 years old, in my pack meeting to see if I ever deviate into promiscuity with my fellow cubbies?

I am pretty sure they were not doing it back then and I hope to Aphrodite they are not doing that now!

As to your comment:
"...and the eyes of God."

Pretty weak sauce God who's Gaydar is that broken that he doesn't know which direction I will eventually go. And I have to PROVE to him that I am straight?

Oh really!

If any activity would push me away from hanging out with males, it would be scouts and campouts in particular.

Leaders should be screened for pedaphilia not what activities they do in the privacy of their bedroom?

A hetrosexual man that coerces his wife to have sex with him when she is not in the mood, can be the grand Poobah of the BSA, no problem, but if he holds a man, consensually, that is verboten?

David, why are we even talking about sex? These are little boys that need not make that decision tell they are plenty old enough to make the right decision for them.

Why push anyone young or old into the closet? That is not healthy!

Perry

James Carroll said...

Vindication:

"Sexual orientation has not previously been—and is not now—a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops. Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest."

http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-responds-to-boy-scouts-of-america-policy-vote