Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The BSA, LGBT, and the Slippery Slope

Again I approach a delicate subject: The decision of the Boy Scouts of America to maintain its ban on openly-gay leaders (and, presumably) Scouts, in its organization.

That decision came this week, and has met with some derision.

I have to say this: Despite what I may think of the constitutionality of banning gay marriage, I side with the BSA in their decision.

How can I hold such dichotomous beliefs? What I believe isn’t as dichotomous as it appears.

The Scout Promise in the United States (and The Philippines) is as follows:

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

It’s the last two words that get people all in a knot. Though they do not appear in Baden-Powell’s original Scout oath, their addition for the BSA is significant, and, in light of the BSA board’s decision this week, still being upheld. Morally straight, of course, does not bear solely the implication that scouts will avoid a homosexual lifestyle, but, in turn, that they will avoid pornography, crude humor, casual sex, alcohol, drugs, and other elements and activities that are regarded as immoral by the BSA. There is no indoctrination within the BSA that urges Scouts to hate gays, or to treat them differently or with derision. That being said, I can’t say that there aren’t individuals within the BSA that hold such beliefs or demonstrate such behavior; any given group will demonstrate bigotry, indoctrinated hatred and intolerance, whether you’re speaking of the KKK or, say, any LGBT organization.

Put another way: Forcing beliefs of a different stripe on an organization you believe is forcing its beliefs on others is, at best, hypocritical.

Additionally, I refuse to fall down the slippery slope that’s always dragged into such arguments: If the BSA can openly ban gays, why, then, couldn’t it ban blacks, or Asians, or members of any ethnic group?

Thing with slippery slopes is that both sides slip on them. There’s a slippery slope that says, for example, that homosexuals are more prone to abusing children, to hitting on anyone of the same sex and other such nonsense. Such things are not true.

Same for the BSA. If the BSA suddenly decided to ban blacks, or as has occurred in the southern US, ban members of the LDS Church from holding leadership positions or participating in Scouting, you bet I’ll be upset – as will the BSA national organization.

Though I have expressed doubts on the likes of Proposition 8’s constitutionality, I think I’ve been careful to say that despite my feelings that such laws don’t meet constitutional muster, there are deeper, spiritual reasons that make me cautious about fully supporting a homosexual lifestyle. I don’t expect or pretend that these reasons will be understood, but I do expect that these reasons will be respected, or at least considered thoughtfully.

Those in the LDS Church are reminded that to progress fully as we continue our lives after our time here on earth, marriage between man and woman is not only expected but eternally needful. Any other arrangement bars progression. That choice, as with all other choices we make in our pre-earth life, our life now, and in the life to come, are left to us because we have our free agency, or the ability to make choices ourselves. But as we make choices, we have to understand that there are consequences that come with the decisions we make. If we choose a homosexual lifestyle and eschew a traditional marriage, then, we must acknowledge that our progress toward godhood will be stopped. We will not have reached our full potential.

Choosing a homosexual lifestyle, of course, isn’t the only choice that bars progress – we’re reminded of so many potential stops to our progress in the scriptures, ranging from adultery to murder to denying the Holy Ghost. All of those choices come with consequences, and, as rational, free individuals who understand the rules, we have to accept the consequences of the choices we make.

Thus, the LDS Church is within its spiritual right to legislate against gay marriage, though such efforts, as I have outlined earlier, are hardly likely to meet Constitutional muster. At the same time, the LDS Church has expressed support for civil unions, which allow same-sex couples civil and legal rights to co-own property, be classified as dependents, and such, without encouraging violation of the spiritual law.

Homer Simpson, that noted philosopher, once said this: “It takes two to lie, Marge. One to lie and one to listen.” The more I ponder what he says, the more I see the truth in it.

An openly gay individual who wants to participate in the BSA encourages two people to lie. When the oath is said, both sides know the “morally straight” admonition is not being followed. The oath is said with a wink and crossed fingers. The oath is said with a lie.

Should any LGBT organization be required to allow individuals who support civil unions, but not gay marriage, participate in that group’s activities, even if that person conceals his or her beliefs and thus lies through association with a group that holds publicly-expressed beliefs that he or she does not support? Such groups typically call for those who hold beliefs opposed to theirs to change – do they call for such orthodoxy within their own ranks? Or is that regarded as intolerant by those preaching tolerance?

If strict orthodoxy is to be maintained, then, well, here we go on the slippery slope once more, folks.

A note on Constituionality: The US Supreme court has ruled specifically that forcing the BSA to change its policy violates the group’s First Amendment rights of free association.

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