Be Prepared. For A Time of Change Ahead.
The Boy Scouts of America has a new face. On May 23, 2013, the organization decided to openly accept members of the gay community into their ranks. With this measure, all boys, regardless of sexual orientation, will be allowed to be proud scout members. By facing such a monumental change, the BSA is showing the country and the world that they are prepared to be a part of an open society to all those who wish to be included.
Unfortunately, this is a face that not everyone agrees with. With every push forward, there seems to be another pull from behind. Across the country, the new motion by the BSA has been return with some serious backlash…from nowhere else but the Church itself. As a result of this new policy, many churches, including the Southern Baptist Convention, the Assemblies of God, and (possibly) the Roman Catholic Church, are deciding to sever their ties with the BSA completely. With nearly 70% of troops being supported by religious organizations and over 47,000 of these organizations wishing to withdraw their support from the BSA, these decisions made by the church will displace millions upon millions of youth looking to be a part of something greater than themselves.
With this in mind, what could possibly possess these religious intuitions to take such a stance? As any institution goes, it’s from fear of change. At all levels of those who object to this motion, fear runs deep in their words. As remark by Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee and advocate for the continuation of the gay scout ban, “We don’t hate people, we don’t hate anybody, but we just felt like there’s got be some objective standard, and we felt they were maintaining that until recently.” Also, noted by Tim Hester, executive pastor for the Southeastern Christ Church with over 300 of its members involved in scouts, “We want everyone, including ourselves, to live by biblical standards. We cannot be distracted from the mission God has called us to.” And finally, in an official statement released by the Assemblies of God, “we believe that the BSA policy change will lead to a mass exodus from the Boy Scout program, as Assemblies of God and many other churches can no longer support groups that are part of an organization allowing members who are openly homosexual.” Notice a pattern?
In all three of these statements, the same themes run through all: standards, missions, and a terrible prophecy. No matter if it is the BSA’s new policy or any other challenge to a religious institution, the need to maintain the social order (by the means of standards) is reinforced by some moral duty/obligation (by the means of missions) and of a message of doom for all those who follow this new path (by the means of a terrible prophecy). If this sounds familiar, it should, because ALL institutions (religious, economic, political) have been using this same formula to keep their members in fear and their own numbers in check. In its current regeneration, we see this playing out with the Boy Scouts. But when will it stop?
Until these institutions are willing to let go of their fear and accept their changing world, this cycle will continue. While living in their own fear, the only thing that they have chosen to accept is that they are becoming even more fearful of the world around them. Until the Church’s level of acceptance of change and for change will change, they will continue to see more people tuning out of their congregation and tuning in to another message that is more open to new idea, new interpretation, and new thought. By limiting their expression, they have limited their own growth. And THAT is their own cross to bear. Unless…they accept the changing times and ideas.
I’ve never been a GLBT rights activist, but I accept that people should love in the highest expression of their love. Though it is different from the way I know and the lifestyle that I have chosen, I accept that there are different ways to live, and different ways to love. In these days of such rapid change, I accept that my level of acceptance is changing as well. Right now, I have friends who are awaiting to become Eagle Scouts. They have readied themselves for the obstacles ahead – in their own lives and in society. As these hard working boys, with the other 2.7 million youth members, 1.1 million adult volunteers, and 110,000 troop units comprise the BSA, they are willing to accept the challenge. Though the Church may not, there are some who are prepared to change. Are You Prepared?
(Lauren is a Feature Editor of The Global Conversation. She lives in Wood Dale, IL, and can be reached at Lauren@TheGlobalConversation.com)