There is plenty of angst out there over this difficult question, most of it grounded in the perception that this once deeply conservative organization is now lurching to the left. Similar angst has come in recent years as ties between Planned Parenthood and the Girl Scouts have made the news. It is not my conviction that anyone has an obligation to boycott an organization that supports wicked causes. I would argue, in fact, that if we can learn anything about Paul’s discussion of meat offered to idols (I Corinthians) it is that we have liberty on these matters. Meat is meat, and the fact that some fool uttered some mumbo jumbo over it before bringing it to market makes not whit of difference.
That said, surely Christians are at liberty to not do business with organizations that support things Christians find offensive. At the very least a Christian family or a Christian church need feel no guilt over severing ties with the BSA. So if we may, but don’t have to, what should we do?
My counsel would be to ask an important prior question- why were we involved in the first place? I suspect that many of us got involved in scouting because it encouraged sundry virtues. That’s generally a good thing. Seeing our young men acquire skills, serve others, and cultivate integrity is something we should all be in favor of. Trouble is, the Boy Scouts sought to build these virtues on the sandy ground of a generic, to-whom-it-may-concern deity. And such endeavors will always fail in the end. The Scout oath includes the promise to keep oneself “morally straight.” Many who are leaving the scouts rightly understand that moral straightness and sexual crookedness are incompatible. What they would be wise to grasp, however, is that moral straightness is something revealed by God in His Word. An institution, like the Boy Scouts, that will not affirm the Lordship of Christ over all things, is an institution that will sooner or later end up denying moral straightness.
It is a sad day indeed when an organization that has encouraged so much that is good becomes an organization affirming what is evil. But we should remember that the Boy Scouts cannot take away moral character. One friend pondered whether they should pull their son out who was so close to being named an Eagle Scout. I asked her to consider, “Are you proud that he is almost an Eagle Scout, or proud of the things he has done to get close to an Eagle Scout? Even if he never is an Eagle Scout, he has, and indeed still can do all the good things that entails.”
The decision of the Boy Scouts of America hasn’t robbed us of anything essential. If they were to disappear tomorrow, or ask all its members to sign an oath of allegiance to the devil, all that was good about it would still exist. It just wouldn’t exist within the BSA. For moral straightness lives and moves and has its being in Christ, not in a once esteemed institution.