Catholics and Christians on the Policy Change

It’s been almost two months since the BSA policy change, but many families are still in the decision-making process. Just the past week my husband had to see his doctor twice and they got to talking about Scouts. Dr. J’s family had made the decision to stay, but after hearing my hubby’s explanations of why we were leaving, at the next appointment Dr. J said that they were rethinking. So while we’re not out to convince people to agree with us, perhaps we can offer perspectives that people haven’t considered. The ship may have sailed, but continued conversation can be cathartic at least. And so even though I honestly am tired of writing and thinking about all this, and I just want to move on, I’m doing one last post on the Boy Scouts. 🙂

Not surprisingly, the people who have been most difficult to talk to about this, both online and off, are fellow Catholics. The issue IS divisive, but we know that it’s more than just socio-political. We are engaged in spiritual battle, one that is of great importance to our family because we have adolescents on the cusp of life, where decisions made now could have long-term consequences.

In Posts 1 and 2, I shared my personal assessment of how we got to this crossroad. Today I share other Catholic/Christian voices that distilled, echoed, or changed my thinking.

  • Dr. Gerard Nadal on Gay Scouting and the Death of Honor:

    There will now be pressure to rewrite the program, such as the Family Life merit badge book to include gay and lesbian marriages, and here is where the new agenda will be shoved down the throats of every boy in scouting, especially as Family Life is a required merit badge for the rank of Eagle Scout.

  • Robert Reilly’s The Boy Scouts Cave in

    … by announcing their proclivities publicly, “open” homosexuals are not only telling others that they have accepted themselves as active homosexuals; they are insisting that others accept them on that basis, as well. What otherwise would be the reason for openly declaring their sexual proclivities?

  • Fr. Derek Lappe’s Response to New Boy Scouts

    Through no fault of their own, through the breakdown of families, through the failures of society at large young people can find themselves struggling with same-sex attraction. The question is, what is the best way to help them? How do we offer hope and healing?

    I highly suggest a reading of Fr. Lappe’s letter in its entirety. This is what should be at the heart of our response as Catholics — except that response is all too often met with disbelief, suspicion and rejection. But I believe that in the long-term it is the only kind of response that will truly matter and make a difference.

  • American Heritage Girls’ Memorandum of Mutual Support – Dissolution Statement:

    It was our sincerest hope the voice of the majority of those associated with the BSA would be heard and that the BSA would continue the amazing 103-year legacy of its founder to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices. Unfortunately, the organization chose to step away from that commitment.

  • Anthony Esolen’s A Boy’s Life with Unisex Scouts:

    In other words, Luke’s father is being asked to enroll his son in a group specifically limited to boys, but one that does not recognize the nature of boyhood and its progress to manhood. Thus there is no real justification for the group; that its membership is male is accidental and not of the essence.

    and The Invisible Boy:

    The Boy Scouts of America have long ceased to speak the language of Christian or Jewish or solid old Roman virtue. There was only one reality that kept them reasonably sane when all the world around them had gone quite mad, and that was the boy. And now that one reality has been forgotten.

  • Open Letter from Palmetto Scout Council’s CEO Rob Green:

    BSA controlled the message, both internally and externally, down to the smallest detail. Which goes to prove that if you shove something down someone’s throat long enough, they’ll either gag on it or swallow it. In this case, 61% swallowed the message–and the rest of us gagged.

  • The Crescat’s What Does It Mean Being An “Openly Gay” Boy Scout…. and When the Boy Scouts is Boy in Gender Only and Not in Essence…

    The Boy Scouts is such an attractive notion to parents of young men because it promised to provide that refuge, giving boys the opportunities they need to learn how to be men, to cultivate healthy male friendships, and to be learn to be comfortable with their boy-ness.

    The Crescat’s words are particularly meaningful to me, because as a mom of three boys, I have often wondered, as moms are wont to do, how I would be able to raise my boys and successfully usher them into responsible manhood, in a society that everyday grows more antagonistic to real men, if for some reason, God forbid, my husband could not be here to raise them with me. It’s a morbid thought but not entirely foreign to moms, as my friends will attest; we worry about these things. And once upon a time, even this worry had something to cushion it, because the BSA was a huge part of my back-up plan. Not anymore.

  • Bruce Frohnen on What is Normal? Culture Wars & the Boy Scouts:

    Only if groups like the Scouts have as their purpose the formation of virtuous young men do such things matter. And only if young men’s virtue includes not engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage does the issue of homosexuality matter. So, of course, today’s Scouts see no problem (or at least admit to seeing no problem) with practicing homosexuals participating in Scouting.

  • Dr. Denise Hunnell’s A Cloudy Future for Catholic Boy Scouts:

    The Boy Scouts of America tried to preserve their financial stability by making honor and virtue a matter of opinion. By tying their principles to the shifting sands of popular culture, the Boy Scouts have forfeited their credibility as a solid pillar of moral authority.

The Challenge of Adolescence

Adolescence is an exciting and fragile time. It is a time of growth, confusion, the dreaded pubertal angst…. which also makes this stage prime battleground for good and evil. Many of our saints chose a life dedicated to God at this tender age. As parents, we have our plates full just shepherding our children toward becoming successful adults, and no, I’m not talking about worldly success here.

The BSA used to recognize the weight of this responsibility, as evidenced by their Youth Member Behavior Guidelines:

One of the developmental tasks of childhood is to learn appropriate behavior. Children are not born with an innate sense of propriety and they need guidance and direction. The example set by positive adult role models is a powerful tool for shaping behavior and a tool that is stressed in Scouting.

This is not the time for premature labels that stick. Adolescence is a time of formation, and encouraging boys to come out, instead of acknowledging a normal phase of confusion, negates it. Catholic concepts of concupiscence, virtue, self-mastery, chastity, purity, custody of the eyes, the ears, the heart — these are all heavy teachings to ponder and put into practice, the careless handling of which could have far-reaching consequences. From the perspective of a conscientious Catholic parent, it is folly to assume that boys at this age would have a firm grasp of all these. How do we expect them to fully understand, appreciate, model, internalize, or explain sexual morality TO EACH OTHER, when they are still in formation themselves? And yet those who approve of the policy change seem to expect exactly this dreamland scenario to take place.

If you read the excerpts/articles I linked above, and found yourself nodding in agreement, you might understand why the NCCS reaction, Canon Lawyer Ed Peters’ blog post, our Archbishop’s statement, and even our own youth minister’s blog post were virtual kicks in the gut for us. More puzzling than anything else is the seeming naïveté by which moral and spiritual dangers are viewed; I am at a loss to explain it.

Homosexuality in Scripture and in the Catechism

I’ve observed that in more recent discussions of homosexuality, some Catholics have shied away from using these verses from Scripture:

Genesis 19
Leviticus 18:22
Leviticus 20:13
Romans 1:26-27
1 Corinthians 6: 9
1 Timothy 1:9-10

Why is that? Is it because they are politically incorrect? Are they too harsh? Should we perhaps rewrite the Bible, so as to word things more, uhm, gently?

I am utterly unnerved that our Catholic leadership could treat this matter in such cavalier fashion, so readily embracing such secular ideas as sexual preference or sexual orientation, questionable “solutions” like peer-to-peer sexuality education, which is essentially what allowing open and avowed homosexuals would mean.

In an already oversexualized culture filled with noise and conflicting messages, where peers often come to matter more than parents, where do we go for guidance and support? Who do we count on, when even the people we thought had our backs insist on soft-pedaling the Truths of the Faith, instead of presenting them undiluted and uncompromising?

Much confusion centers around the Catholic concept of charity. It isn’t something that’s easy to grapple with, even within Catholic circles. When we talk about homosexuality, we often hear/use the phrase “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin”. I found out just this past week that for many self-identified homosexuals, this still qualifies as hate speech. Why? Is it because we no longer have a proper understanding of sin? Is it because we have bought the lie that our sexuality defines who we are? Is it that liberty and license are now regarded as the same thing?

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1822: Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.

1935: The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it:

Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design.

Note that there is no mention of “gender”, “sexual preference”, or “sexual orientation”. Read more here.

More from the CCC: Chastity and homosexuality

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

While the CCC says “Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained”, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality tells us that “homosexuality isn’t hardwired”. The Catholic Medical Association’s 2010 Handout Homosexuality and Hope (pdf file) offers further important insights:

2333 Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.

From the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s Persona Humana: Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics:

In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God. This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.

From Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons:

In the discussion which followed the publication of the Declaration, however, an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good. Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.

Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.

More Helpful Reading:

The Two Meanings of “Unjust Discrimination

From the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Some Considerations Concerning the Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons

Dr. Charles E. Rice: Sexual Orientation and the Catholic Church

18 July 2013, Editing to Add:

Sympathy for the Devil by Fr. Robert Barron:

What is at the root of this deeply wrong-headed homily is a conflation of early 21st century values of inclusion and toleration with the great Biblical value of love. To love is to will the good of the other as other. As such, love can involve — indeed, must involve — a deep intolerance toward wickedness and a clear willingness to exclude certain forms of life, behavior, and thought. When inclusivity and toleration emerge as the supreme goods — as they have in much of our society today — then love devolves into something vague, sentimental and finally dangerous.

How dangerous? Well, we might begin to see the devil himself as beautiful and holy.