What I'm going to do, here and now, is write about how my three churches have responded to the policy change of the Boy Scouts and how I'm processing those responses. In other words, I'm going to bleed a little for you in the form of words.
Yes, I have several local churches. My weakest connection is with the Southern Baptist church my ex-husband and I joined shortly after moving to this place some 12+ years ago. I'm not going to sit here and claim I was walking as closely with the Lord as I could've/should've been, but I reached my breaking point with the church over my Sunday School teacher's yammering on about homosexuality every. single. week.
It wasn't even that I disagreed with him theologically: I just tired of the topic. I didn't understand why we needed to keep talking about it. Wasn't there anything else to discuss in a room full of straight people? A different sin, perhaps? Anything? Anything at all?
So I started exiting the room quietly whenever the topic came up, which meant I exited the room at least once every week...sometimes more. After several weeks of this, the teacher sent an e-mail suggesting I might be a poor fit for the church and with the Southern Baptists, in general. I went straight to the pastor. He refused to get involved. I stopped attending the church on Sundays.
But over the years, this church has richly blessed my family. For one thing, they had for the longest time the hands-down best women's Bible study group I've ever been privileged to attend. They rock Vacation Bible School. They took the Good News Club into Cade's elementary school, when he was a student there. And up until very recently, they chartered Cade's Boy Scout troop.
Because of my experience with the church, it came as no surprise to me that--given the changes in Boy Scout policy--they decided not to renew their charter with the troop. (I know there are some misconceptions about this, but the Southern Baptist Convention left the decision up to this particular church and all its churches. Read for yourself, here.) I've prayed about this a lot, and in the end, I'm not bitter. I can't even tell you how long the church chartered the troop, but it was significantly longer than Cade's six years as a Scout. I think the church has lost an opportunity, but another church has gained it, and--in all fairness, even if there hadn't been a policy change--it would probably be time for another organization within the community to take a turn.
The new church home of the troop holds so much of my heart, and in all reality, I would probably still be a member there if my Jim weren't a traditional-church man. It's not a perfect church, but it's always reaching and baptizing and growing, and that's more than something: it's a lot. So much of the work I've done and do in the community is with this church. The six families who study in Jim's and my log cabin, Monday nights, attend this church. I went recently to the pastor and told him there's this thing I can do, this thing I'm called to do, and he heard me, believed me, and put me to work.
This church is also a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, but for good or ill, I'm not sure how much that really means. I've spent a great deal of time on the SBC website recently, and I'm not going to lie: I haven't been comforted.
Check this out. Straight from the SBC FAQ.
5. I believe our pastor (or my church) has acted inappropriately. What will the SBC do about it?
Actually, the Southern Baptist Convention is not in a position to take any disciplinary action regarding pastors or churches. Again, because of the autonomy of the local church, each SBC church is responsible before God to set its own policies regarding pastors or problems in the church. Such policies are entirely up to the individual congregation.
According to our constitution, if a church no longer makes a bona fide contribution to the Convention's work, or if it acts to "affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior," it no longer complies with the Constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention and is not permitted to send messengers to the annual meeting. These, however, are the only explicitly stated instances in which the SBC has the prerogative to take action. Failure to remain in "friendly cooperation" would also disqualify a church from sending messengers, and is obviously more of a subjective test.
Most SBC churches would look to their own constitutions and bylaws for the answer to this question, often these documents address this very issue.
Does anyone else find this disturbing? I mean, to me, this says: if your pastor is having an adulterous relationship within the church or molesting children, that's not our concern. Send us your money; take a strong stance against homosexuality; and figure the rest out for yourself. Disturbing.
But anyway, the third church (yet another member of the Southern Baptist Convention) is the place where our family goes, Sundays, and the one to which we belong. As I struggled to process the change in Boy Scout policy, the responses of Christ followers, and what I was learning about the SBC, I carried myself on knocking knees to the elder whom I perceive wisest and, later, to my pastor.
I asked them basically to comfort and reassure me: am I still a Baptist because I feel this way? Do I even belong here? And each did nothing short of apply a balm to my heart.
Still, I see and hear things out of my church, sometimes, that cause me unrest. I'm currently avoiding at least one conversation. But this is what I want to say, and will, in time:
This is personal to me. My son is a Boy Scout. He was a Boy Scout for six years before this policy change. To date, nothing has changed for him because of the policy change...except that a bunch of Christian adults decided he and his friends should start meeting elsewhere. He wants to finish what he started. He wants to become an Eagle Scout, and in so doing, he wants to bless the residents of the adult home we all frequent.
What are you going to do? Are you going to support my child: a saved and baptized member of your church? Because if you don't, I can't be sure I'll be a big enough person to shake your hand, Sundays. I'm praying about it.
Also. If you for one minute believe that Christ can't be at work, yet, within the Boy Scouts, you're underestimating Him.