Letter: Local Boy Scout charter group says policy change unacceptable

Feb. 12, 2013 @ 11:37 PM

Editor:

An open letter to the Boy Scouts of America:

I write this letter as an Eagle Scout 1979, Order of the Arrow, past member of two different lodges, Woodbadge graduate C-46-03, and staff member, camp staff of three different BSA summer camps in two different councils, Camp Chaplain. I am a Naval veteran, pastor of Saint Paul Lutheran Church in Sevierville, charter representative of Troop 119 at Saint Paul Lutheran, father and concerned citizen.

I write this letter with a heavy heart regarding the BSA’s pending decision with regard to sexual preference of adult volunteers. It troubles me that I even need to write such a letter. It saddens me that such a short window of time was given for feedback — that I learned of this through a trustworthy, honorable Scoutmaster who found out through mass media that this was under consideration.

So regardless of what you decide, you need to know what this current member and hopefully future member of your organization has to say on this subject.

I and my congregation will not be able to, in good conscience, be associated with an organization that would allow for youth to be placed in danger by having individuals lead them who have or who promote lifestyles that are counter to nature and God’s word. I do not send this as a threat. It is just the reality of the situation.

I love the scouting program, but an organization cannot teach character if their policies compromise on truth. I realize this may not be a popular position, but this is not about popularity — it is about right and wrong. The Scout Oath speaks of “duty to God” and the Law speaks of “reverence.” You cannot teach these principles if you contradict them with your policies. I pray that your decision affirms the Oath and Law that have served us so well for over 100 years.

The tenants of all faith groups have always held homosexuality to be sinful, and counter to nature and God’s will. Only in the recent decade has this become less than unanimous. I speak as a Trinitarian Christian. We are called to be loving and forgiving toward each other and all sinners. Sometimes loving someone means telling them something they don’t want to hear.

If someone likes to drink what you know to be deadly poison, it is not loving to say, “You were born that way, drink whatever you like.” The clearly loving thing to do is stop them from poisoning themselves. In the same way, if God says an activity is sinful, it is not loving for us to say it is not.

There is no debate on what God’s word says on this subject: (see Lev. 18:22, 24, 20:13, Rom. 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, 1 Tim. 1:9-10). The disagreement is on whether we accept the authority of God and His word or depart from it, as sadly many mainline church bodies have done.

God loves homosexuals just as much as all sinners, which we all are. The Church and all Christians are called to love and care for those who struggle with this temptation as well as any other. In order to do that, the church can only associate itself with organizations that hold to such truth. It is not loving and caring for us to tell someone that their favorite sin is OK.

I would not say this to an overeater, an alcoholic, fornicator, or any other sinner dealing with regular temptation, as we all do. We must encourage them to acknowledge their sin before God and seek the forgiveness which He so richly desires to give.

Christ bled, died, and rose for all sinners including homosexuals, but if we tell God our favorite sin is no sin, then how can he forgive us for that which we refuse to confess as sinful? Unrepentant sin can have a disastrous affect on our eternal condition.

We at Saint Paul Lutheran Church have enjoyed being a charter organization for Troop 119 and hope to continue in this role. However, God and His truth do not change and we must stand with that truth. We must speak the truth in love even when the world calls us bigots.

If you allow charter organizations to set your standards, where will it end? Pedophilia, bestiality? You may think that’s a crazy example, but ask yourself, would this even have been a topic of discussion even 20 years ago?

Pastor Robert Portier

Sevierville