As expected, the biggest backlash against the Boy Scouts allowing homosexual members has come from the Southern Baptist Convention. In typical fashion, the SBC is calling for a de facto boycott of the Boy Scouts and will call on their member churches to disassociate themselves with the Boy Scouts. All of this is being done in the name of belief and principles, which is fine. There is nothing wrong with Christians distancing themselves from organizations that allow or even promote unethical practices, but let us at least be consistent.
For instance, prior to the Boy Scout ruling, if a teenage Boy Scout was caught having sex with his girlfriend, nothing came of it. Now, last time I checked the SBC believes that all sex outside of marriage is a sin, but they didn’t disassociate themselves from the Scouts for this. It seems that the act of homosexuality strikes a particular nerve with the SBC, more so than the other sexual sins, or any other sin for that matter.
The SBC was okay with a former president of their convention protecting an alleged rapist, but homosexuality is beyond the pale? That same president told the victims to essentially keep their mouths shut about their allegations. In another church, a pastor arrested for sexual abuse was still allowed to preach and defend his position as a pastor. But let’s move beyond sex and to other sins, such as gluttony. It’s estimated that 75% of Southern Baptists are overweight, and that number increases among the pastors. Does this mean that the SBC should disassociate itself from food companies that are high on preservatives? Perhaps they should stop purchasing items from places like McDonalds and Wendy’s since their food contributes to the obesity crisis in America.
Having grown up Baptist, I can also point to the fact that at any convention of baptists pastors, one of the first questions out of their mouths is, “So how big is your congregation.” Growth and size is used as a measure of success, not to mention a point of pride. Pastors of larger churches are treated as celebrities and questioning them can sometimes put you in hot water; it would be like talking to a Catholic and questioning a Papal decree, only worse.
Now, none of this is meant to condemn the SBC. They have done great things, especially when it comes to disasters and helping the poor and disadvantaged overseas. At the same time, it is a call for the SBC to look at their consistency in how they relate to the world, specifically on Biblical grounds. Apparently they forgot or have used some twisted hermeneutic when it comes to 1 Corinthians 5:9, which states explicitly that Christians are not supposed to distance themselves from the world. It does, however, say we are to distance ourselves from people who call themselves Christians, but still engage in sexual immorality, greed, or idolatry.
Some in the SBC may use that passage to say that because many Boy Scouts claim to be Christians and some may be homosexual, therein lies the reason that Christian churches should leave the Boy Scouts. But what about leaving the churches that worship the idol of “successful ministry” via numbers? What about the churches that have congregants that make millions and give little of it away? Should these same Baptist churches have nothing to do with organizations that make a profit and exist for making a profit, especially if it is done in a greedy manner? In other words, why does homosexuality stand alone as the one sin that Baptists cannot tolerate?
And why are they so quick to support pastors embroiled in controversial statements and sexual escapades, but quick to condemn homosexuality? 1 Timothy 3 calls for pastors to be above reproach, but if the SBC truly applied this standard as consistently as they apply their condemnation of homosexuality then how many pastors would they have left? They would have to get rid of every pastor who faced multiple accusations of sexual advances, every pastor who was overweight, every pastor who’s child (or children) were rebellious, every pastor who obsessed over money and funds (even if for the church), every pastor who required a minimum salary, every pastor engaged in gossip, every pastor who had a bad reputation with the community, and so on. When it was all said and done, if the Baptists were consistent in their application of the Scriptures, they would have only a small percentage of pastors left.
Perhaps it would be better for the SBC to continue sponsoring local troops, if for no other reason than to provide love to the homosexuals that will join the Boy Scouts. The Church is an extension of Christ – something often said, but quickly forgotten – and when we keep people at arm’s length, to them it is Christ keeping them at arm’s length. At the end of the day, how is that consistent with the Gospel?