A Different Way to Look at the Scouting Debate
The Boy Scouts of America voted this week to not vote on whether to allow openly gay males in their ranks, deciding they needed to hear more from their members before making such a decision.
In one of the many news stories I saw about the topic, I saw a man apparently active in the organization — I assume he’s at least a Scout Master if not higher in rank than that — who said what many have said: he doesn’t want openly gay people allowed into the Scouts because he objects to homosexuality on religious grounds.
I can certainly understand that point of view, even if it is an obvious case of him trying to impose his religious views on the entire organization, or, at the very least, him expecting the organization to uphold his personal religious views toward everyone else.
But what if the issue were alcoholism, not homosexuality?
The Bible says, “Be not drunk with wine.” There’s an excellent argument to be made that this is not a commandment never to take a drink at all, but rather to not drink to pointless excesses.
Regardless of how severely you interpret that scripture, imagine that the “villains” in this particular case were people who’d had an alcohol problem. Bear with me: there’s an important reason I’m making such a seemingly-strange parallel.
Not everyone who is an alcoholic drinks alcohol. Once you become an alcoholic, you remain one. You’re an alcoholic while you attend meetings to fight the resistance to drink. You’re an alcoholic when you order sparkling cider at parties where everyone else is toasting achievements with champagne. You’re an alcoholic as you celebrate 10, 15, 20 or more years without having touched a drop.
What if you read, “Be not drunk with wine” as “Don’t touch alcohol. Ever.” How would you feel about a person you knew to be an alcoholic?
Not everyone who is an alcoholic drinks.
Here’s the parallel: just because someone is a homosexual doesn’t mean that they actively have sex with members of the same gender. There’s a contingent of gay people who feel that homosexuality is wrong: they cannot choose to whom they are attracted, but they do choose not to act on those attractions.
They’re homosexuals, and they may well be open about their attraction. But they don’t act on it.
Just like alcoholics who are successfully battling the urge against the bottle, they have taken up their own struggle to not act against their genetic programming that they have otherwise been unable to change, whether they want to change it or not.
We seem to have this notion that it‘s okay to target only certain groups. Homosexuals are a popular target for Christians; I think it’s always easy for people to object to those with whom they personally identify with the least.
So it may be surprising, even unconsidered, that being gay is not the same as being a pedophile, that a man who is attracted to other men is not attracted to underage boys.
What if alcoholism were the issue? Would you allow an alcoholic to lead scouts, even if you weren’t certain whether he was a practicing alcoholic?
That’s not something you’re ever going to know, even if you manage to make a rule that they declare whether they practice or not, any more than you’d know for certain that a scout or scout leader lived a life behind closed doors that mirrored all of the organization’s values. At least not until you managed to sneak behind those doors to see for yourself.
If one’s path is so clear, so proper, so right, can’t one reasonably expect to positively influence those around him? For some reason, when it comes to Christians and homosexuality, that question almost never get considered, and I’ve yet to figure out why.
How do you feel about the debate? Should the Boy Scouts exclude males they know to be gay from participation? Or should everyone be allowed to participate regardless of orientation?