« Only the good die young | Main | My mother's world »

Christians, Boy Scouts, and God's work

There was a Boy Scout meeting the other night, and half of the families said they were leaving at the end of the year. The Scoutmaster, some of the other parents -- a bunch of people are leaving. They don't know if the troop will make it.

Why are they leaving? Because on January 1, Boy Scouts will allow children who identify as gay to become Boy Scouts. Yep. Boys who are 11, who have never had sex, who have never even touched someone of the same sex -- who are, in the eyes of most churches, completely without sin -- they're scaring off these adults.

The adults seem very impressed with themselves. They're "taking a stand against immorality."

Yep, teaching little kids that God doesn't love them, and the Boy Scouts don't either -- that's the way to spread the love of Jesus. Way to go. You've lost another soul.

I've been angry about this for a long time. We were thinking of leaving Scouts if the decision had gone the other way, and I'm glad they decided not to discriminate against children anymore.

But here's what really sealed this whole thing for me.

One of my favorite families came to visit us recently, and they stayed for two weeks.

It seemed like that would be a long time -- two weeks with six extra people is a lot of food, for a start -- but we had a great time.

I became friends with Andy in Austin -- he was one of the first homeschooling dads I ever met, and no one in our group knew what to make of him. A stay-at-home DAD? Who homeschooled four kids? Why, we had to re-name Moms' Night Out after he joined the group!

But it was a simple story, to hear him tell about his family. One of the best families I know: Married couple, four kids, ages 8, 12, 14 and 15. Three boys and a little girl.

The parents met in high school, grew up, got married, but they couldn't have kids and decided they'd either go for in-vitro or adopt. They decided to look into adopting first. Maybe one kid, maybe two.

They fell in love with all four, instead. Andy said once they met those children, once they had conversations with them, it was all over. All four kids would be coming home with them. It became apparent that someone had to stay home with the kids, because they needed a lot of help, and Andy was in between contracts, so he became a stay-at-home dad, and he hasn't looked back.

He joined right in with camping, Mother's Night Out, now known as Parents' Night Out, history co-ops, curriculum fairs. I met his kids, and they were sweet, well-mannered, and hard workers. Turns out they had suffered from years of neglect and the worst forms of abuse imaginable. Go ahead, think of the worst thing you can do to a child. To a boy who's six, maybe seven years old. Who trusts you. Now double it. Yeah, that kind of abuse and neglect.

One day while they were visiting, my son Sawyer was complaining to one of Andy's kids that when my daughter was born, I was so wrapped up in having a baby that I didn't feed him for FIVE WHOLE HOURS.

The boy just looked at Sawyer and laughed. "When I lived with my bio mom, we would go three or four days without food. The only time we'd eat was when I could sneak out at night and steal from garbage cans and bring food back for everyone. Five hours is nothing!"

Andy said that the worst of it was always spring break. The kids had meals at school during the school year and summer. Spring break, though, meant a whole week without food in the house. There was physical abuse, other abuse. Nasty, bone-chilling stuff. And it left marks on the kids, of course. They'd been in foster care for two years, and they were about to be separated from each other and adopted out to different families. The older two would go to one home, the younger two to another.

But then Andy adopted them, and they have been a family ever since. And there have been therapists, and setbacks, and more therapy, and more setbacks, and more sacrifices than anyone should have to make. And yet here they are, four years later, with happy, healthy, wonderful kids. Kids who study, who are respectful, who are fun and cheerful and helpful. They cleaned the kitchen every night after dinner, adored my cooking and called me "Miss Meagan." How can you not love that?

These kids were on their way to all sort of problems as adults -- scary, real problems --  and Andy, by being home with them and by homeschooling them, and with lots of time and therapy and love, was able to get them on a different path.

As one of my friends said about them: "If anyone out there is doing God's work, it's them."

But you know what? 

Some of the families here in my community, in my little town of Bellingham, some people who like to call themselves Christian, won't accept Andy, or his family.

Andy can't be a Boy Scout leader. And his son can't join join Scouts. Because Andy and his husband, Brendan, happen to be gay. One of their three sons is gay, too.

And these "Christians" have taken it on themselves to leave Boy Scouts rather than stay in a group that accepts everyone, just the way they are.

I am putting "Christian" in quotes, because I do not believe that anyone who follows Christ could be this callous, this cruel, and this un-Christ-like. And yet they quote scripture to back up their bigotry and their pettyness.

They claim to follow in the footsteps of Christ. Christ, the same man who dined with thieves, was friends with prostitutes and said that there only two commandments that matter: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these."

Yep. Their version of loving their God, of showing their Christ-like devotion to their neighbors, is leaving the Boy Scout troop rather than allowing their children to be in an "immoral" place.

They had a meeting about it the other night, where the Scoutmaster and others all pledged to stay until the rule prohibiting gays is changed, which will be January 1.

Still, the rule won't allow my friend Andy to be an adult leader. You have to be straight to do that. You know, like the biological parents of Andy's kids. The ones who abused them and neglected them. They're straight, so they could be adult leaders. You can be divorced, too, and be an adult leader. You can cheat on your wife and be an adult leader, too. But you can't be married to a man you love, not even your high-school sweetheart, if you're a man.

And boys? It doesn't matter if the boy who is gay is 14 years old and a virgin and in God's eyes an innocent. These "Christians" have decided that they know better and they can't allow that. Boys who are 16 and have girlfriends, though? No one asks if they're virgins. No one asks who they're sleeping with. 

So, these people who say they follow Christ? They're not saving any souls by doing this. The message they're sending, loud and clear, to others in Bellingham, is this: Christians are mean-spirited. Christians are judgemental. They choose to judge young boys, as young as 8, on "sins" they haven't even commited, while looking the other way at other "sins." Christians quit when they don't get their own way. Christians are obsessed with what strangers do with their genitals in private over what good works they do by daylight in public. They refuse to listen to reason, going against all of Jesus' own word and actions. Christians, in short, are completely unlike Christ.

Is that the message they hope to spread? Is that the legacy Christians are leaving behind?

One of the men at the meeting the other night said, "We live in a post-Christian society."

Well, no wonder. And good riddance, honestly, if this is what Christians are. If that's what their churches are preaching, they need to find a new church. Or they need to actually, you know, read the words of Jesus. Not Leviticus. Well, not unless they're willing to give up shrimp and bacon, anyway. Because, really, they can't have anger against gays because Leviticus said so and still have BLTs for lunch, because he said that was bad, too.

A friend of mine wrote a post the other day about "Angry Christians."

She's right. Christians are angry.

Too bad Jesus' top two commandments were 1: Love, and 2: Love. He didn't mention anything about anger, and He didn't mention staying away from sinners. In fact, He welcomed them.

You know what? Boy Scouts will be just fine without these angry, mean people. And I'm sure some people, the real Christians, and the agnostics, and the Jews, and the Muslims, and everyone else who loves Boy Scouts simply because they like camping and like a good youth program -- all of those people will stay. I'm staying. My husband is staying.

So are my kids. And we'll be there to welcome whatever Scouts come in on January 1. Just as Jesus would have.


Reader Comments (2)

What a great article! Thank God for Andy and his partner who have changed the lives of four children who didn't stand a chance through love and selfless devotion. After years of Catholic school education, the most important tenet which I try to follow every single day was also put simply on a bumper sticker in California, of course, and that is "Kindness if my religion".

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternora ackerley

Isn't Andy's family something! Hearing about this couple makes me so happy to share this earth with people like them, and recommitted to helping make this world a better place.

Sometimes people seem to manage to find the love and goodness in whatever world view they are coming from, and manage not to let their moral compass get tangled in "teachings" or dogma.

I am so impressed when that happens, because teachings and dogma can be a powerful influence, especially when a smart, good hearted person can rationalize that if someone just had the *right* perspective they would realize that this seemingly mean and cruel thing, is *really* the "loving" thing to do. I think the only thing that saves us all from such rationalization of cruelty, are those whose hearts see through that sort of nonsense, and fight to remind their community of the good and beautiful and truly loving parts of their world view.

So, reading this made my day and makes me feel hopeful for us all. You have a good heart that manages to see clearly, and a strong voice. So glad for women like you in the world.

September 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLaia

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>