Tuesday, January 7, 2014

More from the Mother of a Boy Scout

I thought I was done writing on this subject; I'm not. If you haven't yet read my original post, you can find it by clicking here; it may give you the background information you need.

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.


  1. Beautifully said, Brandee!! It baffles me how a local boy scout troop can be denied charter based on what higher ups in the organization have decided! Those policy changes have nothing to do with the local troop, nor in any way diminishes all of the wonderful contributions the boy scouts make to our community!

  2. I applaud you! I often wonder why it's so hard to stand up for ourselves but when it comes to our children the line is drawn. My children aren't boy scouts but I'm familiar and what an excellent group of role models to surround your children with, regardless of their personal lifestyle choices. Faith and religion is such a personal subject for me, I'm not one that "wears it on my sleeve". When it comes to "political issues" I often keep my mouth shut because my feelings can't be put into a certain category. You've done an excellent job articulating yourself!

  3. I knew nothing of the SBC's organizational stuff (and didn't know even some of this that you posted) until I took a class at our church this summer explaining it. I live in Assemblies of God land so everything I know about structure and policy in a church relates to that denom. My realization - every denomination has some sucky things and some decent (and hopefully great) things. I love our (still feels new to us)church because of the people and pastor there, but I have also learned the hard way not to get attached because I really don't fit at any church very well because of my beliefs/background/etc.
    Also (because this comment isn't long enough) I hope that my boys will be boy scouts - I think it is a great program and shame on The Church for being so quick with their decisions on how to handle things they disagree with. (Just my two cents)

  4. Brandee. Our hearts speak the same language.

  5. Yes, I must agree with you that the quote from the SBC on when they have the prerogative to "take action" is definitely disturbing. And I've been a member of a Southern Baptist church for the last 20+ years.

    So is this how we define what it means to be a Baptist...or a Christian...or the SBC view of the definition of a Christian? By our position on homosexuality? Nothing else?

    How about deity of Christ? Humanity of Christ? Death, burial and resurrection of Christ? The Holy Trinity? Salvation by grace, through faith?

    That's a little scary...

    1. Joe, if you visit the SBC website, you will find a section on the Baptist Faith and Message, also a section on "Faith and Facts." Each includes an extensive amount of information, so it's probably not as bad as I've led you to believe. My problem is that the SBC is all about autonomy for the local church...as long as they take a strong stance against homosexuality. If you consider the question from the FAQ that I've included, the pastor might be doing any number of things. The SBC's position is that WHATEVER he's doing, they're not going to get involved...unless it's an issue revolving around homosexuality. That's disturbing to me. All involvement or none. Not involvement related only to money and one sin issue (especially since I personally think there are more frightening/threatening sin issues, and I mean that in terms of safety, not in terms of how God ranks sin).

  6. I was a scout leader for 30 years. We had gay kids, straight kids, and kids that simply didn't know. I didn't care. Neither did anyone else.

    As a youth, I was in a SBC church in South Carolina. They were about as un-SBC as they could get (given what I know now about the Convention in general). We had gay kids, straight kids, sinners one and all. No one cared. All they cared about was that we were in church, trying to live a Godly life. That church certainly settled my Christian life.

    So it really bothers me that some churches of various denominations have decided to sever ties with the BSA. There are few youth organizations in the world that do as much to bring up good citizens who lead good lives in the future. Why you would want to toss them out is beyond me. Fortunately, from what I hear, every unit that's been dropped has been "re-homed" immediately.

    Good luck to Cade on his quest for Eagle. There are few things he will accomplish in his life that will stick with him like that will.

    Peace <3