I hope everyone is having a great Christmas! Enjoy the time you get to spend with family and friends and be sure to thank God for the gift of His Son to the world.
On Thursday May 23, 2013, the Boy Scouts of America National Council voted to allow youth who identify as gay to join the program and to participate until they turn 18, at which point they would not be asked to volunteer as an adult leader. This does allow for these youth to work toward and earn their Eagle Scout award, one of the most well-known and respected awards in the country.
You can read the official BSA Statement here. In case the link becomes broken, the statement is listed below for your convenience:
The Boy Scouts of America Statement:
“For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, with a focus on working together to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.
“Based on growing input from within the Scouting family, the BSA leadership chose to conduct an additional review of the organization’s long-standing membership policy and its impact on Scouting’s mission. This review created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change.
“Today, following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting’s history the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. The BSA thanks all the national voting members who participated in this process and vote.
“This policy change is effective Jan. 1, 2014, allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units.
“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. As the National Executive Committee just completed a lengthy review process, there are no plans for further review on this matter.
“While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting. Going forward, our Scouting family will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth in order to help them grow into good, strong citizens. America’s youth need Scouting, and by focusing on the goals that unite us, we can continue to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve.”
There was also a balanced New York Times article (which is surprising in and of itself) that you can read here.
While I am not a hardcore gay rights activist by any means, I do applaud the National Executive Board for coming to a decision on the matter. In my opinion, it’s a good compromise for everyone involved with the program and for youth that want to become involved. The program is designed for kids anyway, so I don’t see a problem with them continuing to exclude openly gay adults in the program. I don’t doubt that within a few years the membership requirements will be updated again to allow gay adults to join.
There are a few arguments that people have against the decision. The first one being that any gay youth would not be “morally straight.” The problem I have with this argument is the following: being “morally straight” means that the scouts (and adults) involved with scouting have good morals and do the right thing, that they’re on the straight path. Being a gay youth does not mean that they don’t have any morals. The people who use this argument are mixing morality with sexual orientation, which is a disservice to the young men who want to join the program.
One of the other arguments that the New York Times article brought up was about the Boy Scouts of America being a Christian-based organization and that this goes against those principles. While this is a widely debated topic among churches and Christians, the basic principle that people leave out of the debate is that Jesus ministered to the social outcasts of His time: the sinners, the lepers, the disabled, the tax collectors, etc. God loves every one of us, exactly how we are, exactly how He created us. Instead of pushing gay youth away, the Boy Scouts are now embracing their Christian principles to more accurately reflect the love of Christ Jesus.
Overall, there will be a lot of growing pains within the Boy Scouts as they transition into this controversial arena. There will be lots of people who leave the program simply because gay youth are allowed to join (honestly, gay youth are already involved with the program. They simply aren’t open about their attractions). There will be an influx of new scouts joining (or re-joining if they had been asked to leave the program previously).
I also fully expect that some troops will integrate gay youth with non-gay youth, some troops will split into multiple troops, brand new troops will spring up (some of these being all gay youth and some of them being all non-gay youth).
The biggest challenge that the Boy Scouts now has is making sure that current adult leadership on a council and troop level are neutral with their approach to this. This is a sensitive topic to begin with and it would not do the BSA any good to have some of their scoutmasters denouncing the policy and influencing scouts with a negative approach.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Leave a comment below and please keep any debate civil.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. —Matthew 6:14-15
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. —1 John 1:9
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you. — Ephesians 4:32
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness. For the past few months it’s been coming up from time to time and each of those times I’ve given it a lot of thought. I’ve thought about the people who wronged me, about the people who I didn’t really think I needed to forgive, and people that may not realize they’ve done wrong.
Some of these people I have told directly that I forgive them. The scoutmaster, Donn, is one, and one of the other adult leaders from Troop #4 I forgave. When I forgave Donn, I visited the troop on scout Sunday and told him in person. The other adult leader I decided to send an e-mail too. In hindsight, the e-mail wasn’t the best idea (not only because I added too many words) but the leader made it clear that I should have done it in person.
In this age of connectivity where messages can be exchanged instantly, it adds a new layer of complexity and simplicity to forgiving people. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, text messaging, etc, there are many different ways we can communicate with people we need to forgive. In most instances, I would say forgiving people in person is the best route. There are times when that isn’t possible, and in those cases we should use the options that are open to us.
The song “Forgiveness” by Matthew West speaks very clearly on the issue of forgiveness.
After listening to the lyrics, we can see that the biggest obstacle we have to forgiving people is ourselves. As humans, we naturally want to hold grudges and seek revenge against those who have wronged us. When we receive Christ and His forgiveness of our sins we become more prone to forgive people. However, because of our natural tendency against forgiving people we have a difficult time with this.
It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you
God wants us to be examples of His Glory on Earth. To do that we have to show forgiveness, grace, and mercy to people even when we don’t want to. God will always help us forgive people, we just have to be humble enough to ask.
What are your experiences with showing forgiveness to people? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
I started this post a few days ago but I couldn’t figure out what to actually write about the song.
The song is awesome and I love it, but the only thing I had to go on were the lyrics. There wasn’t any big, discerning message that I was hearing from God about the song. . .until Saturday night.
First, a bit of background before we get to the new stuff. I’ve known my friend Lee since he was 12. His step-dad brought him to Troop #4 and Lee hit it off right away. He loved the scouting program, the troop, and the people involved with it. He soon became good friends with my youngest brother and he lived close to me.
Through the interaction with the troop, I came to know Lee very well and inadvertently became his mentor. After his step-dad and mom broke up, I would pick him up and drop him off from troop events and occasionally he would call to just talk and vent. For a long time, I’ve been working on helping him come to know Jesus and understand that there was a plan for him. Even though he was in a bad situation now, God always watches out for us.
I know that most of my words he listened to but never really understood and accepted. He’s been very resentful toward his mom and the way that he was neglected throughout most of his life. I can understand where he’s coming from and I don’t fault him for his feelings, I’ve even tried to help him come to forgive his mom and explaining to him that it would do a world of good. He listened, but I could tell that he wasn’t liking the idea of forgiving his mom.
A couple weeks ago we went out to Applebee’s and the conversation turned toward what he wanted to do with his life after high school. He was telling me how he wants to get to know his heritage (he has Cherokee blood) and learn more about Native American religious beliefs. I supported him with this and started explaining that he could do all of that and possibly be a missionary to a Cherokee reservation. I told him that my church sends missionaries to a Navajo reservation.
We left the restaurant and talked for quite a while longer in the parking lot. I was giving him bits and peices of my testimony, telling him places where I’ve heard, felt, seen God working in my life.
So this past Saturday, Lee and I ended up at Applebee’s again. A few days ago he had been at his former house and got into an argument with his mom about how her parenting. He later posted his experience on Facebook and I could tell from that post that he was very angry and hateful about the whole thing. After he got into a Facebook argument with one of his mom’s friends, he was still feeling bitter about everything.
As we were talking on Saturday, Lee told me that he had recently been experiencing God working in his life. This was somewhat surprising for me because Lee was never eager to talk about God much. He continued to tell me that he feels God brought a girl into his life, for what reason we don’t know yet. Lee was also telling me that after his last encounter with his mom and the Facebook argument that ensued that he felt peaceful. He felt as though God was taking the anger and hate from him. Lee continued on saying that he didn’t even feel that he needed to cuss as much.
By this point, I was ecstatic with his small testimony. Throughout the night I added a few more pieces of my own experiences with God and encouraged him to keep listening for God.
All of that said, on the way home from Applebee’s that night I was reminded of this song. It practically fits Lee’s experiences of the last few days.
The question that is never far away
But healing doesn’t come from the explained
Jesus please don’t let this go in vain
You’re all I have
All that remains
The first verse sums up how a lot of people feel when they’re in any given situation. People will often assume that God is not around when they’re asking “why?”, they don’t see that God has a plan for everything and one way or another God will pull them through.
Which reminds me of the song by Newsong called “The Same God”. The chorus says:
The same God who was with you then is with you now
The same God who led you in will lead you out
The second verse of “The Hurt & The Healer” explains the other part of suffering, where people become so bogged down by their pain that they feel like they can’t do anything other than breathe.
Sometimes I feel it’s all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through
If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, trust that He has a plan for our lives. . .then we can know that God is with us through our pain and will pull us through to the other side where Glory awaits!
It’s the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes its rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear You say “It’s over now”
God doesn’t always show us the entire puzzle before it’s completed. He shows us a piece here, a piece there. All of it being our story for His glory. . .and ultimately the relationship that He longs to have with each and every one of us.
It’s always important to remember to give thanks to God for everything that He has blessed us with.
What has God blessed you with recently? Leave your story in the comments.
A few weeks ago I stumbled across a music album on Amazon (click here) that is one of the best albums I have ever heard. I’ve been listening to it since I bought it.
There are a few songs that I’ve posted before that show how God loves us and wants us to rely on Him alone. This album goes well beyond those other songs I’ve mentioned before. This is definitely an album that I feel everyone should own and listen to closely.
Most notably, a large majority of people believe that God doesn’t hear when we pray. They believe that because they don’t see any immediate results, that they can’t see what He is doing that He isn’t listening to them.
Can you hear us cry?
Wishing we could turn back time
To feel Your breath when branches more
Take one more sunset walk with You
Must each tomorrow hold
Such brokenness untold
Can’t imagine how You could
See all of me, and say it’s good
When you read these lyrics, I can’t help but imagine what that is like. Being that close with God that you know He’s there with you when the wind blows gently through the trees, or feeling His presence when the sun is setting below the horizon and trading one beautiful wonder for another.
The song goes on to say that each day is “broken.” This is true for many, many people. As a whole, the events that took place in the Garden of Eden separated us from God in such a way that we can’t feel Him in the wind, we can’t see His work in the sunset, and can’t see the beauty of the night sky.
God doesn’t want that for anybody. He wants us to see the world through His eyes. To see what He created, and most of all to love how He loves us.
You still love us more than we believed You could
Could there be something more
Will it ever be the way it was before?
Just as this line shows, regardless of our faults God still shows us a love that is unlimited. Nothing that we can experience on Earth can compare to how much God wants the intimate relationship that He had with Adam and Eve.
The most difficult challenge that a person has is learning to listen when God speaks. God hears all of our prayers and He responds to them in His own way and in His own time. We can’t expect Him to take care of things immediately. We have to have faith that God will come through for each and every one of us.
And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” —Matthew 21:21-22
Do you have any prayers that God has answered? Share your story in the comments.