It's no secret that our family is heavily involved in scouting. My husband is the current Scout Master (Head Adult Leader) for our local troop, our oldest son is an Eagle Scout and 2 more sons are on their way, God willing. We have always believed in the value of scouting and it's moral ideals, hence our leadership and strong involvement. In other words, we have good reason to be interested in this decision.
When I first heard about the ruling, I admit that I was angry. Mostly, angry that we even have to bring sexuality into play. In our oversexed society, I really get sick of it. Especially in a place that it shouldn't even be an issue, like in organizations that promote higher moral standards. It did feel like an attack, to be honest. Then my anger quickly turned to frustration and sadness as I read many Catholic and Christian articles and opinions that seemed very Un-Christian, legalistic, and downright hateful.
As my husband and I delved into conversation and decision making for our family, we were thankful that the Boy Scouts of America weren't changing curriculum or funding sources, much like the Girl Scouts did in funding Planned Parenthood and promoting it in their curriculum. The two decisions really can't be lumped into the same category. Funding an organization that kills human beings made the easy boycott of the Girl Scouts, switching to American Heritage Girls for our daughters.
1. As Catholics, the first and most important reason is Church teaching. More than ever, we are thankful to be Catholic...Thankful for a Church that has given us guidance for over 2000 years. We consider ourselves devout Catholics. NOT in the sense that we are perfect by any means but that we do our best to live out the fullness of the Church teachings. It isn't easy and we do fail, but we do our best...And we keep trying. In this sense, we turn to our church, trusting her to teach us how to live in the world.
In regards to the homosexual act, itself, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
"Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through centuries and in different cultures. It's psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. CCC 2357"
Considering the act itself is not the issue at hand, we kept reading. The next paragraph of the Catechism undeniably addresses the tendencies. This was the "kicker" that shouted to our consciences:
"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity, Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition." CCC 2358
There it is clearly stated that we are not to discriminate against same-sex attraction. My husband, as the current Scout Leader felt strongly about this calling and direction for our family. Here we have the opportunity to live out our faith, truly as God has asked us to do, with respect, compassion, and sensitivity to all persons.
Now sometimes as parents and adults, it's one thing. But we can be Papa and Mama bears when it comes to protecting our children. Ultimately, we understand that having a same sex attraction might be an orientation but it's not a predatory disease. For my husband and I, we feel it is our responsibility to teach our children about the consequences of all sin and how best to strive for Christian perfection, often in a world that makes this very difficult. However, it would be a huge judgement on our part if we assumed that all people who experienced same-sex attraction (especially children) were acting upon it. Yes they may be struggling...As the Catechism teaches, it can be a heavy cross to bear, much like many sins can be, including our own.
Lest we forget that we are all sinners. Strike me down now if I should ever believe that those with same sex attraction were lesser human beings than I or not created in the image and likeness of God. Everyone deserves to be treated with human dignity and there by His grace of God we go. We are not so proud to think that this ruling would effect our children any more than the threat of being in the presence of children from broken homes or coming from any other place of moral imperfection.
2. For our family, the benefits outweigh the risks. In our local troop, the good adult leaders that our sons have been exposed to, far outweigh any negative influences. They are good men that have influenced the character of our sons in numerously positive ways, really beyond measure. We do not take for granted the blessings we've received.
The ruling that scouts will not be excluded based on sexual preference is one issue but the Boy Scouts have not changed their pledge to keep up their standards of behavior. They are called to be morally straight in the sense that ideally, scouts aren't acting upon or engaging in any sexual activity, regardless of orientation.
We have also heard people discussing fear about sleeping arrangements on outings. Our experience is that lots of kids don't want to sleep in a tent with other kids based on many personality preferences and differences. This kind of juggling isn't a new concept. Once again the benefits outweigh the risks.
3. You can't win a battle from the outside. As 2 former military people, my husband and I both know that you only retreat for 2 reasons...1) to give up ground or 2) to refortify your position and move forward again. The bottom line for us is that we are not ready to give up our ground. The many benefits that Scouting offers, far outweighs the issues at hand. Retreating does far more harm, in our case, than moving forward as the salt and light that we are called to be as good Christian soldiers, even in organizations that aren't necessarily Christian.
Boy Scouts of America does not proclaim to be Christian but embraces the spirituality of many denominations with a belief in God. Staying with the Scouts lends us an opportunity to shed light and be a positive example to our fellow man. Sometimes this, alone, is good practice and it's easier said than done!
Many people claim that this is only the beginning of a "breakdown" or continued assault against the organization.
At this moment in time, we just aren't willing to make assumptions. Instead, we choose to see it as a continued opportunity to be tolerant and loving of many different types of people. This within itself is not a new challenge for us or our children, regardless of sexual orientation. Loving our neighbor, while not compromising our beliefs, isn't so easy. Sometimes, it's a huge trial right within the folds of our own church, where the odor of judgement can choke the best of us!