Thursday, May 9, 2013

Membership policy update

I haven't posted anything in a while regarding the BSA's proposed change to the membership policy. Part of that is because I haven't felt compelled to do so, like I have in the past. Before the BSA even announced the resolution to be voted on this month I had what I can only describe as a spiritual reassurance that everything was going to work out just fine. So I'm not really worried about it any more. But now that there is a specific resolution to be voted on I do want to make one final comment on the issue.

My previous posts regarding the proposed change were in reaction to what was being speculated--that the change would allow chartered organizations to make their own decisions regarding membership. Since that isn't the resolution that came out, many of my comments and concerns aren't relevant to the specific situation now.

The proposed resolution states: "No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."

However, for adult members: "The Boy Scouts of America will maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders of the Boy Scouts of America."

In other words, no openly gay adults will be allowed as leaders, but boys who identify themselves as gay will be allowed to be members.

Also in the resolution is this statement: "any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting."

The way I read all this is: The BSA will welcome with open arms any boy who wants to participate in Scouting. All youth will be expected to live a moral life, including total abstinence from any sexual activity (regardless of who they may feel attracted to). Adults must also agree to live "morally straight" and prohibits those who participate in homosexual activity from leadership. In effect, the resolution means that homosexual behavior is immoral.

At this point I need to say again that what appears on this blog are my own thoughts and opinions and are not official statements of the LDS church. I alone am responsible for what is put here.

With that out of the way, I think this proposed policy change could work for the LDS church. The reason I think it could work is because it makes a distinction between feelings and actions. In the church, we teach that having feelings of same-sex attraction is not, in and of itself, sinful. Acting on those feelings, however, is. (See this post, from someone who identifies himself as a gay Mormon.) This resolution seems to me to be consistent with LDS church policy. As stated in the church handbook of instructions:
"Homosexual behavior violates the commandments of God, is contrary to the purposes of human sexuality, and deprives people of the blessings that can be found in family life and in the saving ordinances of the gospel. Those who persist in such behavior or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline. Homosexual behavior can be forgiven through sincere repentance.
If members engage in homosexual behavior, Church leaders should help them have a clear understanding of faith in Jesus Christ, the process of repentance, and the purpose of life on earth.
While opposing homosexual behavior, the Church reaches out with understanding and respect to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender.
If members feel same-gender attraction but do not engage in any homosexual behavior, leaders should support and encourage them in their resolve to live the law of chastity and to control unrighteous thoughts. These members may receive Church callings. If they are worthy and qualified in every other way, they may also hold temple recommends and receive temple ordinances." (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 21.4.6)
 So, I believe this policy could work for the LDS church. Again, that is my opinion, not official policy.

There very likely will be some unintended consequences should this resolution be adopted. There could still be challenges arise because of this. I also believe that this issue will be raised over and over again in relation to adult leaders, so we're not through here. However, I'm not worried about it. Whatever happens, we'll be okay. 

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