So, I’ve been busy. First I was at TeCaBoCa to cook for a family retreat program, then I helped at a youth leadership develop program whose aim is to train the students for leading small Christian communities. After that I went on retreat and heard Ronald Rohlheiser. I relaxed a few days before I went to see my family and then returned. Shortly after my return, I went to a week of Scout camp offered through the archdiocesan Catholic committee on Scouting. During that time, the Boy Scouts of America affirmed its policy to forbid those who have homosexual tendencies and act upon them from registered leadership positions within the organization. By doing so, the Boy Scouts have said that certain activities are forbidden by its members.
Some would say this is intolerant, that this decision violates Scouting’s principles. I say it is truly enlightened. It says that I am not my actions. It also says that some behaviors can disqualify me from certain activities. We see this in many places. For example, being in a state of current marriage prevents one from joining a Catholic religious order. Being convicted of a felony prevents one from voting.
The enlightenment, though, is the first point that can easily be thrown away. I am not my actions. Another major group is getting flak for saying the same message: the Catholic Church. This large group consistently tells us that we are called to overcome our sinful habits because we are not bound by them. In other words, I am not my sins. I have concupiscience, but I also have knowledge, wisdom, and reason. I am called to use those to better my relationship with God, people, and myself. Do I succeed at the challenge the Catholic Church issues? No. When I participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I find myself reciting the same sins I did before. The challenge is worthwhile for the the rewards are greater than the instant gratification I get from sin.
So to can I say about the Boy Scouts of America. I am an Eagle Scout. The values instilled in me include being brave. I find that the BSA is sticking to this value (bravery) by affirming its policies out of concern for children. It had numerous lawsuits filed against it because pedophiles had entered its ranks. These acts were homosexual in nature. The BSA is not equating all those with homosexual tendencies as pedophiles and is not saying that all pedophiles are homosexual in orientation. What this decision does is minimize the risk of children becoming victims of pedophilia. Is it perfect? No. We can still find recent news stories of pedophiles preying upon children in the Boy Scouts at various Scouting functions.
To those who disagree with the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to affirm its policies, why do you disagree? Is it to be kind? To share concern is an act of kindness, and so you are doing so by expressing your concern. The Boy Scouts is also kind because it expresses its concern about active homosexual practitioners in its ranks. Its kindness is to the children because it is borne out of a desire to keep them safe from pedophiles. (This obviously does not mean that all people with homosexual tendencies are pedophiles or vice versa.)
We hear that the Boy Scouts is forcing its morality (or that of others) unto its membership. Well, no. Membership is voluntary, thus when I send my dues to the Boy Scouts of America, I place myself under that group’s authority. I give myself. The Boy Scouts cannot take who I am away when I give myself freely. Thus, I am called to agree with the Boy Scouts’ understanding of “do[ing] my duty to God and my country.” I am also called to agree with their policies regarding homosexual practice among its leaders.
Peculiarly, this is similar to when I underwent my conversion. I gave my life to the Catholic Church freely. I am called to support her in her mission. I am called to agree with her teachings. They are readily accessible, so if I am ignorant, then I can rectify the situation. In other words, the Catholic Church did not force me to accept her teachings. Instead, I gave myself to her and put myself under her authority.
As an Eagle Scout, I learned much about leadership. I also learned that if I am to be an effective leader, I also must be an effective follower. By placing myself under authority, I can learn what it means to be in authority. The Boy Scouts of America taught me much, and I give it the kudos it deserves for its bravery to make what appears to be an unpopular decision.
As Albus Dumbledore said in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, “It takes courage to stand up to ones friends.” I may be taking an unpopular view with this blog post, but it is where I stand. I did not need to write this; but the bravery instilled in me by my journey to Eagle forces me to do so.
Tip Of The Hat to “Boy Scouts Of America”
Thoughts of a Simple Citizen: I am an Eagle Scout
The Boy Scouts Stand and Deliver
And as only Elizabeth Scalia could put it: Big Gay Al on the Boy Scouts and Homosexuality (In other words, don’t be a fascist!)
Catholic News Agency