Dear Boy Scouts of America

Dear Boy Scouts of America:

I hope this finds you well, though all the conversation in the media seems to say otherwise. You’re apparently between a rock and a hard place, at least politically speaking. You don’t want to alienate your base, but you’re also finding that being a Boy Scout doesn’t possess a sexual identity. I must confess that I wasn’t a Boy Scout, though I wanted to be one.

I grew up in a rural area, and Boy Scouts were certainly possible. However, my mother wouldn’t let me. It wasn’t because she had a crazy liberal agenda, or disagreed with anything Boy Scouts taught. It was simply because we already had church, and the Royal Ambassadors. You’re probably familiar with RA’s, as their affectionately known. It’s the Southern Baptist version of Boy Scouts. One might find them as your stiff competition, but they seem to be some of your most staunch defenders.

Though mad at my mother for not allowing me to participate in Boy Scouts, I now cannot be more thankful for RA’s. As I look back upon my childhood, I remember the pledge clearly:

As a Royal Ambassador I will do my best:
to become a well-informed, responsible follower of Christ;
to have a Christ-like concern for all people;
to learn how to carry the message of Christ around the world;
to work with others in sharing Christ; and
to keep myself clean and healthy in mind and body.

I’ve traveled a long way since I first learned that pledge. I am no longer in the Southern Baptist Convention; I espouse views that often times stand counter to that organization’s beliefs. Yet, without this pledge, I don’t know where I would be today.

I wouldn’t write articles like, “What if Jesus Were Gay.” I wouldn’t embrace the idea that all persons, regardless of gender, should have the ability to serve as pastors. I wouldn’t want to learn how to love people for who they are, not what I think they should be.

So, today, I cannot say that I’m all that empathetic for your plight. I can’t say that I think you have a hard decision on your plate. I was taught long ago that I am to be a responsible follower of Christ; that includes welcoming and embracing those society shuns. I was taught long ago to have a Christ-like concern for all people; that includes turning the other cheek and allowing my own prejudices to be challenged. I was taught long ago that I am to work with others in sharing Christ; that includes reaching out to an organization that wants to change but doesn’t know how.

I’m not a Boy Scout, and for that I’m thankful. No, it’s not because I think you’re a right-wing organization. It’s because I am thankful I could participate in a conservative religious organization that showed me how to love. As a young boy I learned that my primary concern should always be sharing the love of Christ, and living it out daily.

For our future, and for your character, I urge you to do what’s right, not what’s expedient or convenient. The road won’t be easy, but the path to transformation never is. Thankfully, I’ve had the privilege of knowing several Eagle Scouts throughout my short life. Their work has improved and inspired communities. I would like to think that transformative work extends beyond sexuality. Then again, I grew up being taught that the Greatest Commandment was the literal, infallible Word of God.

I can only pray you heed the words of the Oath so many have taken, “…To be a person of strong character, your relationships with others should be honest and open. You should respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions, and remain faithful in your religious beliefs.”

If you live up to your oath, I’ll live up to mine.

With love,

Rev. Zachary Bailes

Zachary Bailes

Author's Website
About the Author
Bailes holds a Master of Divinity from Wake Forest University School of Divinity. He is the Editor of Crazy Liberals and Conservatives, a website dedicated to engaging the intersection of faith and public life.

Read more posts by

  • Lifelongscout

    let me tell you from one scout masters view I welcome the diversity. Gay kids need to be taught the same as any other child and gay adults are not child molesters. However hat I don’t think you see behind their decision is that very little will change because of the cowardly way they are going about this issue. As it has been passed down to us leaders is BSA will have no policy on it and will essentially pass the Buck down to the host organisations to determine their own policy in line with their beliefs. Since most hosts are churches I don’t see a lot of changes in the future. I know our church host has already told us nothing will change within our troop. I did express my opinion on this and was quickly dismissed. I think the way they are going about it is a desperate attempt to get back some of the money they have lost due to this long standing policy. Pick a side either side and defend it but don’t pass the Buck down the road.

  • http://onemorecup.wordpress.com Paul Schilling

    Goodness “Lifelongscout” reading your suck-up commentary to Zachary Bailes utter nonesense is in itself demoralizing. There should be a time in any organizations’ life span where the members are allowed to vote and regardless of liberal, left-leaning contrabutions such as guilt (Z. Bailes); moreover, suggesting that the BSA are void of sexual identity. Hogwash! Why not leave it up to the young boys who are the participants? Both of you — Lifelongscout and Z. Bailes — are doing more to damage the minds of children then I would ever hope to believe. Confused? My greatest hope is for tradition (like the Bible, without p.c. being propogated all throughout God’s Word), and some nonsensical people to just leave well alone. Hang in there BSA I will continue to give and serve you.

  • Bill_Rawlins

    By definition, a homosexual male is sexually attracted to other males.  As a parent of three boys who have been through through scouting, do I want a homosexual leader in charge of my boys?  NO.  Do I want my son to sleep in a tent with homosexual scouts?  NO.  Would you want your Girl Scout to sleep in a tent with a heterosexual boy?  Or with a heterosexual male leader?  Common sense, people.  Lastly, being a Christian means having Christian values.  Romans 1:26-27 makes it clear what Christian values are in regards to homosexuality.  Has Mr. Bailes belief in the Bible been destroyed by his seminary experience?  If the Boy Scouts embrace homosexuality, expect their membership to drop by at least 50% in a rapid period of time.

    • jkz118

      @Bill_Rawlins  You have to read the verses in its cultural context. Paul condemned them because these people left  God and went back to worshiping idols, that’s why God gave them up. Paul also said women aren’t allowed to speak or teach in church. He said it to address the cultural problems at his time. It certainly cannot apply today. 
       
      BSA should allow gay scouts because then people will truly see sexual orientation makes no difference to the character of a person. Don’t judge them by who they love, judge them by their hearts and by their fruits. This is how Jesus would tell if they are his children.

      • Bill_Rawlins

        @jkz118 – “Men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”  That sounds pretty direct to me.  If you say that is cultural, then you could say that about any scripture in the Bible.  Might as well throw the Bible in the trash or just say it was an interesting book about history.
          Also, you did not address my common-sense argument about sexual attraction in the tents.  I am a former scout leader.  We did a lot of camp-outs.  I would love to see your reply/rebuttal to my argument on that.

      • http://www.michigandersforlife.com/ Carl G Oehling

        @  @Bill_Rawlins @jkz118 I read the crux of being a follower of Jehovah is obedience. It is a common word for most covenants and preceded by IF YOU..

  • http://www.michigandersforlife.com/ Carl G Oehling

    Most translations say disobeying the direct command not to practice homosexual act is an “abomination”. That is not a common word so my paraphrased version is:  “enormous sin”. Jehovah writes in Heb 10:30 : “Paybacks are Hell”.  Your choice.

  • escleaver

    Zach,
     
    There are many things that come from life that you can’t read in a book. You have a passion and great knowledge, but do not get ahead of your experience. There is a reason we have a men’s and women’s bathroom. There is a reason we do not allow men and women to share the same shower. I am a Scout, and I am one who has seen what homosexual Scout Masters can do. Ignorance is bliss, but reality hurts like hell. Jesus in no shape or fashion accepted everyone without condition. The Boy Scouts of America have conditions and their compromise will be their downfall. Before you take a position, in long-suffering consider what you do NOT know, before you take a position of what you think you know.

  • http://onemorecup.wordpress.com Paul Schilling

    @jkz118 I have been keeping a pulse on this particular thread since a couple of posts ago. With all due respect to you and your knowledge, I must disagree with your interpretation of the Scriptural references. Furthermore, admittedly I am at odds with your interpretation of culture. Or then again you may simply not know the cultural norms of the particular societies involved.
     
    Furthermore, sexual preference and the BSA is not a good example of any forum or anywhere. I do not want to be offensive, however, I believe your second paragraph is nonsensical at best.

  • http://onemorecup.wordpress.com Paul Schilling

    @jkz118 I have been keeping a pulse on this particular thread since a couple of posts ago. With all due respect to you and your knowledge, I must disagree with your interpretation of the Scriptural references. Furthermore, admittedly I am at odds with your interpretation of culture. Or then again you may simply not know the cultural norms of the particular societies involved.
     
    Furthermore, sexual preference and the BSA is not a good example of any forum or anywhere. I do not want to be offensive, however, I believe your second paragraph is nonsensical at best.