The husband of a friend recently asked me these questions in response to my post about the Boy Scout’s possibly changing their policy on gay leaders. Here are his questions, abridged, and then my reply. I thought they were questions others might have too so I decided I’d open up my thoughts to everyone.
“So if the Boy Scouts of America (which includes many youth and adult females too) were to allow “… chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting” to “accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs” would you:
- Register your sons in Scouting (if not why not)?
If the BSA changed their position and that was adopted locally, I wouldn’t disallow their participation in scouts. We’d consider it if they expressed an interest. On a simple parenting level, they probably don’t have time in their schedules to do another activity with the swimming they do.
2) Not only accept, but advocate for Scouting, since it’s mission “to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath(a) and Law(b).” If you find it so abhorrent that BSA does not presently allow openly homosexual members such that you won’t allow your children or yourself to associate with them, don’t you find that you are living in personal conflict since the United Methodist Church also does not permit homosexual leaders (The UMC officially will not ordain self-avowed practicing homosexuals, nor does it condone same sex marriages. Ref: The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church – 2012)? I find it odd that you won’t associate with one group, but are a leader in another group with similar stance.
I guess I should’ve been more clear in my original post, in which I tried to make the distinction between homosexuality as theological category and a political category. Issues of gay marriage and ordination are different matters to me because they’re in-house Christian issues for the Church in how we interpret scripture. Excluding gay people from an extracurricular activity isn’t a religious question, it’s a matter of discrimination in my view. It’s true that the UMC does not ordain gay Christians nor does it perform same sex marriage. However, the Book of Discipline also stipulates:
“all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God,” and that United Methodists are to be “welcoming, forgiving and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us.” The Book of Discipline also condemns homophobia and heterosexism, saying the church opposes “all forms of violence or discrimination based on gender, gender identity, sexual practice or sexual orientation.”
Again, my own view, which I think is reflected in the Discipline is that homosexuality may preclude people from certain theological status in the Church but that it should not warrant discrimination. For example, our previous bishop broke bad on a pastor who had refused to accept a gay Christian into church membership.
My own view, as I said, is in flux on the question of marriage. I think the Church has the right to define marriage in a way distinct from the country or culture. However, I personally believe gay Christians should be allowed to seek ordination. I have a theological problem with the Church baptizing people into the ministry of Christ but not allowing them access to all forms that ministry takes. I also have many classmates from seminary and friends who had a legitimate call and obvious gifts for ministry but were not able to pursue what I believe God had called them to do.
3. Knowing the UMC’s position on homosexuality, how would you advocate regarding the acceptance of homosexuals in the Scout unit that Aldersgate charters and is legally the “owner of?”
Well, that’s not really my decision to make. Or rather it’s a decision that would be shared with the lay leadership of the church but I would be honest- as I have been in this venue- about my own view. Incidentally, I got an enormous amount of emails about the original post and only one of them was to express disagreement with the post. When it comes to this issue, the demographics are moving much faster than the Church or the BSA.