Pastor Dave Thompson writes for PinkNews on the recent rejection of the Boy Scouts of America by the Assemblies of God Church, following the BSA’s new policy which will allow openly gay members to serve in the organisation from 1 January 2014.
I was fourteen when I first stepped foot into our church’s Royal Rangers group. They were an Assemblies of God version of the Boy Scouts. With it came the outfits, the badges and the patches, and an extra dose of Bible lessons. My brother had been a Cub Scout and truth be told, I wanted to join the Boy Scouts, but my family was trying to become more involved in our Assemblies of God (AG) church, so begrudgingly I went.
After a few months in the group I lost interest, not so much because it wasn’t the Boy Scouts, but because I already knew most of what they were teaching. As kids my brother and I had been fishing, hunting, camping and learning survival in the woods from my Dad. I literally knew how to put meat on the table before I knew how to drive.
Regardless of my less than stellar experience with the Royal Rangers, I loved the AG and the personal and life changing God that my family met there. That is why I chose to study for ministry in the AG, at Trinity Bible College and then at Northwest University. And that is why I chose to pastor in the Assemblies of God early in my career.
Today I am ashamed of the fact that this fine denomination has chosen to drop support of the Boy Scouts of America for their recent vote to allow membership for young men who are honest about their same-sex orientation. I am saddened to think of the families who will be shamed because their child may be gay, and the AG has sent a clear message that their children are second-class and are not welcome.
The BSA new membership standards are clear:
Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting
The Boy Scouts of America does not have an agenda on the matter of sexual orientation, and resolving this complex issue is not the role of the organization, nor may any member use Scouting to promote or advance any social or political position or agenda.
Youth are still developing, learning about themselves and who they are, developing their sense of right and wrong, and understanding their duty to God to live a moral life.
Good grief! What part of any of these standards conflicts with the AG, or the Bible for that matter? The AG has essentially stated that people with a gay orientation are somehow ungodly, just because they have a gay orientation. This is yet another example where the national denomination has lost connection with their pastors.
Pastors are becoming tired of the pain and suffering we are causing in our pews when we are forced to ostracise our brothers and sisters in Christ who are unable to change their sexual orientation. Exodus International, the leading evangelical ministry group for gay persons even rejects the notion that you can cure or fix the gay orientation. It hasn’t worked for them in their decades of tying.
Today the AG betrayed all of those Christian brothers and sisters who are trying to deal with the reality of their gay orientation, many who are even trying to live celibate lives. I’m not aware of any pastor out there worth their salt, in the AG, who would deny membership to a gay person who is living a celibate life. So why would we deny young men the opportunity to participate in the Boy Scouts when they are simply trying to be honest with their family, their troop, and their God?
I continue to tour and talk with our Church pastors and congregations about my book, Over Coffee, in hopes of providing some insight into these matters. I pray that the national leadership of the AG, and all other denominations who may drop support of the BSA, will understand the danger of discriminating where God does not. They are singling out and rejecting one unchangeable human circumstance amidst the myriad of others that we recognise as part of this complicated life. I pray that we as a Church will understand that the Grace of God meets us all in the equality of our human inabilities.
Dave Thompson is an openly gay pastor, a regular columnist for the Christian Post, and a published author. His book Over Coffee, deals with the issue of homosexuality in the church. He is available to contact through his website.