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Friday, May 24, 2013

A Sign of Moral Decline

As the week ground to a close, one of America's last bastions of nominally Christian morality succumbed to the forces of tolerance and liberalism. On Thursday, during the Boy Scouts of America's annual meeting of its National Council in Grapevine, Texas, not far from its national headquarters, 61 percent of the roughly 1,400 voting council members who cast secret ballots decided to admit openly homosexual boys into the association, which currently counts about 2.6 million boys as members. The policy change will take effect on January 1, 2014.

The measure, drafted by the National Council's Executive Committee, says that no youth may be denied membership "on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone." The Boy Scout's chief executive, Wayne Brock, calls the organization's decision "compassionate, caring, and kind," saying the goal of scouting is to reach out to as many boys as possible. Further, a statement released by the organization argues, "The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive and unresolved societal issue."

However, the change actually reveals the hypocrisy of its national leadership. They are required to pledge fealty to God, who does not in any way sanction homosexuality (see, for instance, the apostle Paul's unambiguous statement in I Corinthians 6:9-10). In addition, the new policy violates the part of their oath in which they promise to be "morally straight." At least the National Council refused to consider the considerably more contentious proposal to allow openly gay adults and leaders—though lawsuits may soon force the Boy Scouts to do so anyway.

John Stemberger, a conservative activist from Florida and a former scout, criticized the Executive Committee for its role in passing the measure:
What kind of a message are we sending to young people about being brave when its top adult leaders don't even have the courage to stand up to the pressure of a militant lobby when the bullies in Washington, DC, Hollywood or even some of their own renegade councils start pressuring and harassing them?
Christian and conservative members of the organization, who had lobbied tirelessly against the measure in the weeks prior to the vote, feel that the leadership ignored the beliefs of the majority of scouting families in order to fall in step with the sudden rise in public acceptance of homosexuality. Across America, there are more than 100,000 Scouting units, and a full 70 percent of them are chartered by religious institutions. Some of the largest sponsors are conservative denominations that have previously supported the broader ban of homosexuals, among them Southern Baptist churches, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many from these units are expected to quit the Scouts and form one or several alternative character-building groups for boys.

When asked why she opposed the inclusion of homosexuals as Boy Scouts, one mother of scouts responded frankly, "I am just as afraid of a gay boy tenting with my son as I would be if a straight 15-year-old boy tented with my 13-year-old daughter." While liberals would decry her fears as homophobia, Christians like this concerned woman would call it prudent parenting and fully in harmony with their faith.

Robert Schwarzwalder, a senior vice president of the Family Research Council and a father of two scouts in Northern Virginia, says: "The fallout from this is going to be tremendous. I think there will be a loss of hundreds of thousands of boys and parents. This great institution is going to be vitiated by the intrusion of a political agenda."

In reality, the move is simply the scouting leadership's attempt to "get on the right side of history," as they would consider it. The country's moral center has been steadily sliding to the left for many decades, and over the last few years, the pace of moral decline has drastically accelerated. According to a May 13, 2013, report from the polling organization, Gallup: "Just three years ago, support for gay marriage was 44%. The current 53% level of support is essentially double the 27% in Gallup's initial measurement on gay marriage, in 1996."

Young adults, aged 18-29, are leading the charge in changing Americans' views on gay and lesbian relations. Again according to Gallup, in 1996, 41% of Millennials supported same-sex marriage, while today, up to 70% of them do—a 70% increase over seventeen years. This group consists of the parents or potential parents of the next generation of scouts, and with this policy change, the Boy Scouts of America's leadership believes it is ensuring the future of the organization. The Executive Council thinks that, once this cultural storm passes, its brand of scouting will emerge on the other side stronger and with increasing numbers of members. Tolerance and inclusion are the wave of the future.

Additional polling data seem to support their belief. Another Gallup poll, this one from May 20, 2013, bears the headline, "In U.S., Record-High Say Gay, Lesbian Relations Morally OK." It is subtitled, "Americans' tolerance of a number of moral issues up since 2001." In summary,
Americans' views toward a number of moral issues have shifted significantly since 2001. Their acceptance of gay and lesbian relations has increased the most, up 19 percentage points in the past 12 years—to a record high of 59% today. Americans' tolerance toward having a baby outside of marriage is also now much greater, up 15 points since 2001, to the current 60%.
Americans have also become significantly more accepting of sex between an unmarried man and woman, divorce, embryonic stem cell research, polygamy, and cloning humans.
Such moral indifference can hardly be characterized as a wave; it is better described as a rising tide that sweeps all before it. Most younger Americans just have not been taught solid Christian values at home, and the public schools have done nothing but indoctrinate them to abhor discrimination of all kinds without moral distinction. Add in a constant media barrage of liberal ideas and feel-good "values," and the results are quite predictable: Anything goes.

Peter, quoting Psalm 34, gives some sage advice to those who still believe and follow the morality found in God's Word:
He who would love life and see good days, let him . . . turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil. (I Peter 3:10-12)