Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Gay in the BSA?

Here’s something that’ll surprise you: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints already allows gay members of the church who do not engage in homosexual behavior to join and lead its chartered troops in the Boy Scouts of America. 

Does that bit about “do not engage in homosexual behavior” sound discriminatory? Think again. 

That bit is in line with church teachings on the law of chastity, which applies to both gay and straight members of the church. No fooling around outside of marriage. 

Think I’m lying?

Read it for yourself:
“If members feel same-gender attraction but do not engage in any homosexual behavior, leaders should support and encourage them in their resolve to live the law of chastity and to control unrighteous thoughts. These members may receive church callings. If they are worthy and qualified in every other way, they may also hold temple recommends and receive temple ordinances.”
Here’s the source: The church’s “Handbook 2: Administering the Church,” available publicly online.
Yes, there’s still that quibble about marriage (which the church does not support) and civil unions (which the church does support). Because of that quibble, many are going to gloss this policy change being pondered by the Boy Scouts of America and its impact on the church as problematic. Not so in officialdom. In practice, now, you’re going to deal with many, many bulletheads on both sides of the issue, as with every other divisive issue.
According to the Salt LakeTribune, the church isn’t offering an official statement until after the BSA announces any policy change, which could happen next week. But the signs are already on the wall as far as I’m concerned. Any policy change by the BSA will not impact official church participation in the BSA. Any problems are going to be on the local level – and will deserve correction from Salt Lake City.
Personally, I had no idea this church policy existed as written. I have no problem with gay scouts, or gay scout leaders, and object to those who think they’re somehow going to harm their fellow scouts or lead them down the path to total gayness. Unfortunately, I know enough about other addictions and prelidictions that scare me a hell of a lot more than the thought of my son having a gay scout leader.
Also, sometime in the past, I may have written a blog post along the lines of supporting the BSA’s anti-gay stance on the grounds that the national organization insists the phrase “morally straight” be included in the Scout Oath. Since then, I’ve been bugged by something: The BSA also insists on Scouts being physically strong – and I’m lacking in that department (anyone who knows me knows I have the same overall shape as a Krispy Kreme doughnut). There are many Scouts and Scout leaders who fit – tightly, with many sucking in of guts – in that same boat. The BSA has made strides to emphasize physical fitness, including banning some Scouts and leaders from some activities if they do not meet physical fitness requirements. Seeing as current LDS Church policy doesn’t forbid fatties as well as gays from serving and holding temple recommends, I don’t see why I should support such a stance either.
It’ll be interesting to see what the BSA announces, if anything, next week, and what the subsequent response will be from the LDS Church. I am, however, extremely optimistic for both bits of news.

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