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Erin Ann McBride
Monday, April 29 2013

The Church’s Position on Gays in the Boy Scouts

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Yesterday I read something so disturbing that it made me sad for hours. I had to stop reading it and walk away. It was a statement by someone posted on this website that read simply, “I’m so glad my boys are out of Scouts now. I would not want my little boy in the same troop as a gay 10 year old boy.” (The comment was moderated and deleted.)

It depressed me for hours that this person is out there representing my religion and all that I hold dear. I knew I had to say something, I had to put my thoughts into print, and make it public, that such discrimination does not represent me, or the official position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

These words were left in response to the official Church statement on the decision of the Boy Scouts of America to not discriminate or exclude gay young men from the program.

To this person, and anyone else who has criticized the Church’s position, I ask you this-

Why would the Church not support the BSA decision to allow gay young men in the program? After all, the Church allows gay young men to be members of the Church! A young man can be gay and pass the sacrament, so why should his sexual orientation keep him from obtaining a merit badge?

How Does the Church View Homosexuality?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledges that same-sex attraction is a sensitive issue which requires kindness, compassion, and understanding… Not exclusion and discrimination.

The Church’s doctrinal position is clear: Sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married. However, that should never be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel. His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down.[i]

In short, the Church firmly believes that all people are equally beloved children of God and deserve to be treated with love and respect. Church apostle Elder Quentin L. Cook stated, “As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate. Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”

Let’s repeat that last line. “Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin, Know the Difference

Maybe it needs to be re-stated and explained in a more direct format for those who cannot separate down the difference between opposing gay marriage and a gay 10 year old boy.

The Church opposes gay marriage.

The Church does not oppose gays, regardless of age.

The Church does not oppose 10 year old boys, regardless of sexual persuasion.

The Church opposes pedophilia, sexual harassment, and discrimination.

Pedophilia, sexual molestation, and sexual harassment are crimes.

Homosexuality is not a crime.

Acts of discrimination are crimes.

Not all gays are men.

Not all pedophiles and sexual predators are gay. Many are straight.

Not all gays are pedophiles or sexual predators. In fact, most are not.

A ten year old boy is unlikely to act on feelings of attraction, whether straight or gay. Any ten year old boy who makes inappropriate sexual advances on another boy or a girl, needs emotional counseling and assistance. This is a child that needs help, not hate.

A young boy will not “turn gay” or suffer from any sort of malady by sitting next to a gay young man at a troop meeting. He is, however, likely to learn discrimination, bias, and prejudices from his parents.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “You see, same-gender attraction is not a sin, but acting on those feelings is—just as it would be with heterosexual feelings.”[ii]

To those individuals who feel that the second a man looks at another man “in a gay way,” and thinks that just the natural feeling of attraction is a sin, might I remind you of Matthew 5:28, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Do you intend to hold yourself, and all other straight individuals, to that same standard? Are you without sin? Can you cast that first stone?

President Boyd K. Packer made the point equally clear when speaking to Church members with same-gender attraction. “‘We do not reject you…We cannot reject you, for you are the sons and daughters of God. We will not reject you, because we love you.’”[iii]

With the Church’s position so openly and obviously clear, why would anyone doubt the continuing alliance with the Boy Scouts?

Help! There’s a Gay Child in the Scout Troop!

If you are uncomfortable with your child being in the same troop (or classroom, car, or at a birthday party) with another child (for whatever reason- whether it be sexual orientation, behavior, language, etc.), you are always welcome and able to sit in and watch or supervise the proceedings. Watch and see if your concerns about the other child are warranted. I have never found or heard of a troop or classroom that had too much parental involvement.

Parents, what will you tell your son when you pull him out of Boy Scouts? “I’m sorry, but there may be a gay little boy in your troop someday, so we can no longer support this organization. Don’t listen to anything the prophet and apostles have said about not rejecting others with same gender attraction, or whether or not it is a sin. I know better.”

Or will you teach your son that we, like Christ, choose to love all of God’s children? And that you hope he will join his voice “with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation or for any other reason.  Such actions simply have no place in our society.”[iv]

 

Will you remind your son that in this Church we believe that regardless of sexual orientation, “any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman? However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness.


33 Comments

  1. I couldn't agree more. I hope your article helps people overcome their negative feelings. Christ never turned away from anyone.
  2. Gay or straight, scout or not, the church's position on morality is absolute and total abstinence before marriage and absolute and total fidelity after marriage. If this standard is applied in scouting then the present debate about gays in scouting becomes a complete irrelevance. That is why the it has not been necessary for the church to take sides in the debate.
  3. One thing to be mindful of in discussing children and sexual orientation is the nature of normal child development . Children naturally go through a period called latency where they are not attracted to the opposite sex. Boys like to do boy stuff with boys and girls like to do girl stuff with girls. The opposite sex is considered to have "cooties" This time period is roughly between the ages of 5 and 11. Due to cultural pressures, the latency period is often artificially shortened, by children being exposed to media and parental influence to have a boyfriend or girlfriend at too early an age. The boy scout organization is wonderful in that it helps to preserve this natural latency period for boys, encouraging them to challenge themselves in learning the scouting skills, getting in touch with nature, and developing personal character traits for the future. A ten year old is boy way more likely to have a best friend who is a boy than a "girl friend." The relationship is affectionate but non-sexual. That is normal child development and it should be respected.
  4. Very well written, and I agree completely!
  5. The question I keep hearing from church members is this. What is the difference between a 15 or 16 year old scout sharing a tent with another 15 or 16 year old gay scout or sharing that same tent with a girl from the ward YWs program of the same age. As long as both practice abstinance why will we be fine with the gay young man in the same tent and not the young woman? I for the life of me have not found anyone able to answer that question other than to say, "Well I trust my son." Can someone tell me why that isn't a double standard because so far no one has been able to really answer that.
  6. Excellent article. Thoughtfully expressed, well researched and well written. It is unfortunate that homosexual activists have thrust sexuality into Scouting where (as Erin noted) it does not belong. The BSA has never banned homosexuals from membership, only "open or avowed homosexuals", or in other words, someone pushing a homosexual agenda. I personally don't feel there is a need for a change in the BSA membership standards, but I respect our Church leadership and I'm sure the new statement comes from inspiration. I'm anxiously waiting to see how it all turns out and praying that truth and righteousness will prevail. As an Eagle and a Scout leader on several levels for many years I love the Scouting program and I would hate to see it torn asunder by those who are trying to destroy it if they can't remake it in their own image.
  7. I agree, Erin. Well stated! Actually, the Church even now allows gay scout leaders--as long as they are worthy. I imagine there are a great many gay members of the church who choose to remain celibate in order to follow God's laws. Some are even temple workers. If they are worthy to serve in the temple, they are worthy to work with scouts. I read something recently, written by a gay man, who said that gays tend to be attracted to other gays and are not likely to approach young boys for sex. Most gays aren't into young boys, anyway. But you were talking about 10-year-olds. Isn't that just Cub Scouts? I thought Scouting wen all the way up into the teens. Still, there should not e a problem. All boys should be able to have the benefits of the scouting program.
  8. I have been associated with scouting as an adult for 45+ years now. Mostly with LDS sponsored units. Thank you so much for this well written and articulate article. I have been fumbling for right thing to say to parents and leaders who might struggle with the new BSA policy (if adopted in May). You have expressed much more clearly my feelings on this subject.
  9. There is confusion in the minds of some between sexual orientation, which is a condition, and sexual activity, which is a choice. Being gay is not a sin. We have heard that over the pulpit at general conference. God does not condemn people for who they are. But homosexual activity is a serious sin and should be condemned, and those who are guilty could be subject to church discipline unless they repent. We need clarification here on what is sin.
  10. For Jace: If there were 2 gay boys sharing a tent, yes, that would be highly inappropriate. But the chances of that are miniscule, and hopefully the leaders and parents would be mindful of that. The temptation is far more likely between a girl and a boy. It's simply common sense.
  11. Here's a link to someone very actively LDS and someone who is gay: http://gaymormonguy.blogspot.com/2013/04/boy-scouts-distinctions-in-homosexuality.html
  12. Just beautiful Erin! Perfectly stated. I for one would be much more comfortable with my son (or daughter) socializing ad learning with half a dozen gay boys and men I a BSofA troop, than in a Girl Scout Troop where Planned Parenthood is pushing their abortion agenda.
  13. For Jace and Eve: Many years ago, as a child (Grade 8), I was hit on by a girl at my school, and as a young adolescent, my husband was hit on by a leader at an LDS scout camp. Is there a solution? What is the common sense? I don't know if there's an answer. BTW: excellent article.
  14. Not as clout but as back ground: I have been involved with young men in the church as a scoutmaster, YM president, bishopric councilor over scouting and stake YM president. I want to be clear that I love the Savior, His church and I love all of God's children. Our young men and women are very vulnerable at this age and they are also trying hard to figure out who they are and how to fit in. It can be a very difficult and painful time of life. I know because I was a vulnerable and painfully shy young man who reached out for acceptance and friendship in my youth. At an early age in scouting and the YM program (and being new to the community) I was approached by a modestly popular young man first as a friend and then encouraged very tentatively and cautiously to see if I would accept homosexual activity. I fled physically and emotionally from this peer but later learned that this same young man had recruited two other and younger young men in the same troop/ward who became extangled in this activity and lifestyle and my younger brothers were in turn approached by them. In the same troop at the very least I know of 5 boys who were affected and 3 who like Joseph of Egypt fled. The idea that at this age homosexuality in a youth group is benign and poses no extreme dange to other young men is a blatent lie and anyone who believes this line of reason is blinded by the adversary to the potential harm and spiritual death of their own and their neighbors children. So therein is the conundrum and there is the challenge. How can we best protect the majority of the lambs without harming the one. My intent is not to condemn scouting or the church. My intent is to expose the myth perpetrated by this article that homosexuality amoung our youth is benigh and not dangerous. It is real, alive and active and we MUST as both parents and leaders be actively combatting it's influence while balancing love of the one with protection of the many. Parents, please listen to the voice of cold, hard fact versus the voice of philosophy.
  15. I don't think that there was ever a question that this policy was not going to be accepted. However, the real issue is whether or not we are going to call out (on a ward level) those members that will undoubtedly pull their kids out of scouts (and denigrate the person, not the action) and worse denounce those children and families that have 'gay' children (whether or not they really are .. which is another discussion). I have already heard way too many comments already from so called active members, the comments of which are nothing short of neanderthal in nature.
  16. I do not think the mom who wrote a comment that was prejudice is correct. I do believe she has a right to her feelings and concerns. I do not believe in discrimination or prejudice comments, though we do have a right to free speech. I can understand that moms concern for her son in scouts. I have 5 boys (2girls) and it is something that is concerning these days with so much sexual driven media, comments, conversation and etc. I think it is important to discuss any of these issues at home with your family, and talk about ANY inappropriate touch whether male or female or child or adult. ANY inappropriate touch is wrong. As a mom it is concerning that children are more sexuallized than we think due to media and so forth. Kids talk, they over hear adult conversations. We do need to be kind and have compassion, but we do have to excersise judgement and "cast our nets" even if they are people in our lives that choose a different path that set the wrong example to our children. It is confusing for so many youth to not be judgemental, but judge wisely who you choose to surround yourself with. Friends are a huge impact on kids lives, and we need to be careful that we are kind to everyone, but that we can walk away from those things or people if they conflict with beliefs and weaken testimonies.
  17. The irony is that there have always been boys in scouting who have struggled with same-sex attraction. This is nothing new. The woman who posted that she was glad her sons were out of scouting most likely had her boys sitting next to someone who experienced SSA at some point while they were in scouting and she just didn't know it. These boys kept quiet and got no support. At least now they can know they are loved just like every other boy.
  18. I sat one afternoon in the mid 1990's listening to a sweet young boy (17) as he cried on my shoulder because he was being pursued constantly and persistently by 2 homosexual young men he was aquainted with. (Not Church Members) They were constantly praising him for what a great guy he was, telling him that being homosexual was no different than heterosexual, telling him that the reason he was a little awkward with girls was because he was meant to be with men. They bribed him with all kinds of things but on that afternoon with tears in his eyes he said to me "O Cindy, I don't want to be that way! But they say I am. What can I do?" We talked and he said he wanted to get married and have children and that he wanted to and would resist them. The next time I saw him was a year later. He was "Flaming" (his words) but not any happier. I often wonder where J would be today if those 2 guys hadn't been there in his life. I respect the Official Church Position and I know there are some silent homosexual scouts out there. But I do have a problem with the LGTB agenda being pushed and forced on us, being told that we have to accept, embrace and include their agenda and lifestyle as normal and teach it to our children in school and now in Scouting. Those who are activists in this area will not just sit back and let us go on with scouting as usual. If you think they will you are being fooled. How long after this before they insist on an LGBT / Alternative lifestyles merit badge? Where will it end? The only good ending to this is if the church pulled out of the BSA and started their own scouting program. Much like the Assembly of God did with their Royal Rangers back in 1962.
  19. I so agree with Anon. We must protect our children as they are developing and beginning to try to find out who they are.
  20. Mostly well rationalized based on current contemporary social values and leanings. I will make judgements to protect my children and grandchildren based on the promptings of the spirit. Secondly, with respect to the latent sexuality: a 10 year old is cub scout not a boy scout. Obviously the hormonal level at 10 is virtually nonexistant at 14 or 16 it is very strong (almost overpowering). I'm personally not willing to take "that chance" with some elses life and "see what happens" IF a gay 16 year old decides to act on his "uncontrollable urge". We seem to have plenty of unwed pregancies within the Church to attest to this aspect of adolescence. Additionally does anyone recall the 12 Article of Faith with respect to "appearance"? I hope the BSA does not give in to the pressure and incremental social shifts with respect to this issue. Homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle: it flies in the face of reason - procreation.
  21. I've already commented with my thoughts and impressions. I do need to add my concurrence to Anon's comments. I to have faithfully served as a husband, father and Church leader at various levels and many of those with the youth programs. Re: Joseph W comments if I were to remove my son's or grandson's from a ward scouting program for this reason or anyother that I was prompted to do I would do it hopefully without the judgement of "being called out".
  22. Excellent article, Erin. Thank you. To Anon: As you described, the scenario you posed is very real. But to continue disallowing gay boys to keep the environment more protective of the lambs is a poor substitute for simply teaching the children in the first place about good touch/bad touch and keeping open the lines of communication so that they can know who to talk to if something like that happens. It's like sending kids to BYU because the parents are afraid of "all the bad stuff" they might encounter at a different university. Hate to break it to them, but one can find anything and anyone at BYU, too; they just have to look a little harder.
  23. The emphasis here will be on chastity. For someone under 18, "morally straight" should mean no sex of any kind - he's too young to marry at that point anyway. What I hope can happen here on out is that raunchy behavior (e.g. watching R-rated movies, or passing around certain pictures or magazines) at meetings or camp isn't brushed off with "Good, we know they're not gay." I have seen that happen in LDS and non-LDS troops alike.
  24. Proposed Safety Rules: 1-Teach that aggression, coercion, unwanted physical contact are not acceptable. 2-Prohibit sexualized contact, jokes, behavior, of any kind (this includes discriminatory jokes about men, women, gays, etc.) 3-Ensure that all activities include a combination of adults and kids that precludes sexual contact of any kind. I've seen this work in high school age youth groups that are inclusive of straight, gay, male, female, both youth and leaders. Personally, I'd rather have my kid in a group where sexuality is openly discussed and acknowledged, than have assumptions made. I was a scout in an LDS troop 35+ years ago, and witnessed plenty of straight kids do inappropriate sexual things that could have been avoided by rules and appropriate supervision.
  25. It is difficult when the prophets and apostles counsel us to take a different road than we heard growing up. The traditions of our fathers teach us that we should shun gay people, and treat them as dangerous. But, as was so beautifully pointed out in the article, our church leaders point us to a higher way. I see lots of people struggling to hold on to their old traditions, but the counsel from our church leaders is clear. As Elder Christofferson said on the mormonsandgays website, we believe in inclusion, not ostracism. He said we want people (specifically referring to gay people) to feel like they have a home here. This change in the Boy Scouts just makes the scout policy better line up with our church policy. If a boy in my priest quorum comes out and admits he's gay, I'm supposed to encourage him to keep participating. "Stay with us" is the counsel from Elder Christofferson. He can serve in a calling and hold a temple recommend. It made no sense that prior to this change, I was supposed to tell him, "I can take you on our next temple trip, you're just not allowed to go to scout camp."
  26. For Jace: My best friend growing up was gay. We spent many nights camping in the same tent, and when we were teenagers we went on road trips, stayed in hotels and slept in the same king-size beds. We never had sex because, guess what? I'm not gay... And sleeping in the same tent as a gay kid, didn't magically turn me gay either. Have you ever had sex with any of your gay friends? Of course not (this is probably because you don't have any). Would you? No. Cindy: Maybe if your friend had some gay adult role models who were happy and at peace with who they are (who might even be active in their wards) he wouldn't have been so miserable. Maybe his misery came because all of his mentors and leaders shamed homosexuality as an affliction. Maybe his unhappiness wasn't so much because of his orientation but because of how he was treated because of it... and what he was told God thought of him because of it. John Chambers: There are many gay members of the church who are practicing, active members. You are talking about not risking exposing kids to another kids "uncontrollable urges," is it your feeling that all gays are rapists? You sound like you truly have a fear of homosexuals... Probably 4% of your ward, right now, is homosexual (maybe you should stop attending, sounds like a pretty risky group to be around). Some of those gay members of your ward are deeply closeted, some are probably young men and women, just awakening to their sexual orientation. As a church leader your fear and intolerance will not help them as you strive to serve them. Be careful not to be guilty of the greater sin. Now, enough of this. Decent article, but clearly we have a long way to go.
  27. Some of you have completely lost the plot and I'm afraid have been subjected to left wing social media and political correctness. There is no debate God views homosexuality, the sexual act, as an abomination, it's really just that simple. How do we know. He says so. That's good enough for me, he is God after all. But that doesn't mean hate gay people, just the opposite Jesus said to love ALL people. It is not the being gay which is the abomination it is 2 men or 2 women having sex with each other. See the difference. Now you can either follow God's Law or man's trendy law ( with man's logical, moral and non-discrim reasoning, which changes by the way every generation), Me? I'm leaning towards the God side. Good Luck to those who decide Man is right and support gay rights.
  28. thank you for stateing the truth I agree with you We are All Gods children and need to be treated with kindness and love.
  29. This was a well written article, but I think we are forgetting the scout law, especially about being "Morally Straight". How is that being interpreted in scouting today? Is professing homosexuality as a youth or a leader living this law? The same could be applied to heterosexuality if they are having pre marital sex or committing adultery. I think the church's stance on sexuality is very clear, but I think our interpretation is flawed. Like the one comment that was made about lusting in your heart you have committed a sin to me appitimizes the meaning of being "Morally Straight". It's all about our intent and that begins in our thoughts and in our hearts.
  30. One small criticism: although frequently misused and misreported, pedophilia does not refer to an act, but to a sexual orientation. Pedophiles and child molesters are NOT the same, and by all informed accounts at least 80% of child molesters are NOT pedophiles. Given that using the same criteria as many as 30% of men could be classified as pedophiles, it appears that pedophiles may actually be LESS likely to molest children than teleiophiles.
  31. I don't know how well many of us think this through. United Families made some very good points about this policy in their article Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity 101 (http://unitedfamilies.org/default.asp?contentID=613): --------- "What are the implications for the Boy Scouts of America? "No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone." The passage of this resolution will jeopardize the protection provided to the scouting organization in the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling BSA v. Dale where the court upheld BSA’s right to “expressive association.” (First Amendment). The passage of this resolution would establish that BSA does not object to open acknowledgement of same-sex attraction, at least for some individuals in the organization, weakening if not destroying their basis for precluding open acknowledgement of same-sex attraction and behavior in adult leaders. The resolution appeases no one. Least of all the gay lobby who view the current resolution as nothing more than a continuation of a discriminatory policy. As far as Human Rights Campaign is concerned, the resolution "continues discrimination against parents and in employment." If the resolution passes, gay advocates and their legal teams will certainly not cease their attacks on BSA – now they will have more ammunition. There is a healthy amount of incoherence and even schizophrenia in the policy. ‘It’s OK to be gay” until you’re 18, but when you acknowledge that inclination after age 18, suddenly your “sexual orientation” or “preference” is unacceptable and does not align with BSA standards. Gay youth are ok, but gay adults are not. Along with the term “sexual orientation,” the inclusion of the word “preference” is also problematic as it closely aligns with the current understanding of what constitutes “gender identity.” (What you think you are.) With that in mind, what if a person who is anatomically a female, yet self-identifies as a boy, and dresses and acts like a boy, wants to join the Boy Scouts? Does this proposed policy not open the door to the possibility that a girl could join a scout troop? One final question: Why would it be OK to place in close proximity (ie, housing/tent and bathroom/shower facilities) a young man who openly acknowledges that he is sexually attracted to other young men, yet it would be widely considered inappropriate to allow a heterosexual female to be in similar proximity?" http://unitedfamilies.org/default.asp?contentID=613
  32. Agree with Bob. It's not about the boys at all. I've had boys in my troop who "acted" gay, but because of their age, and the moral standards they are taught by scouting and the church, it was never an issue. Gay or straight behavior has no place in scouting. We're not a dating site. We're about teaching moral behavior and skills. Those who demand recognition of homosexual lifestyle have no interest in Scouting or the young men we serve. They are simply using it as a bludgeon to beat down any resistance to their agenda.
  33. Great article. We don't need to fear people with same sex attraction. It seems to me that the people who speak out the strongest against gays are struggling with self-loathing because of their OWN same-sex attraction. So those of you who are still spewing venom against young people facing that situation, maybe you should look in the mirror and wonder why you would do that instead of teaching your children to be who they are and accept others as they are and love EVERYONE as Christ does. We as Mormons sometimes forget we are Christians, don't we?

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