With the recent announcement that women can serve in combat and by the Boy Scouts of America’s revelation that they are reconsidering their ban on gay members, the false impression is made that somehow America is coming of age. Already ashamed of the way we willingly sacrifice our young men on the battlefronts of places we’ve no business being, how can the announcement that we are now willing to sacrifice women come across as anything other than more disturbing news? If the Boy Scouts of America is already a distraction from the teaching of Jesus when injected into a church setting, how can we see expanding this program to gay men and boys as some sort of victory? We shouldn’t.
The Boy Scouts are a paramilitary organization in their outlook and activities and a week’s outing is a lot like a boot camp. Plenty of our Scout leaders see nothing wrong with that. There is another form of “outing” of course--the macho bullying that happens in the ranks, the taunts of which are not infrequently learned from the mouths of leaders who--in such a setting--feel free to relax most of their Sunday school restraint. Has there ever been anything, in a Christian context, as doctrinally absurd as a “Duty to God Award” or the entire concept of “merit badges?” The assigned ranking of first class, second class, and tenderfoot that Scouting puts upon boy becomes, in adults our metaphor for the worth of human souls.
All the benefits churches ascribe to Scouting can be provided to young men and young women without being tied to a secular organization that promotes the accumulation of merit and rank, all of which are contrary to the teachings of Jesus. The vast majority of churches are already sufficiently hog-tied to organizational structure. Another layer of bureaucratic encumbrances burdensome and harmful to any relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Whatever benefits derive from wartime engagement and its preparatory program of Scouting are better received elsewhere and this mad rush to inclusivity would be delightful if we weren’t talking about the inside of a slaughterhouse.