On April 20th, 2013, the Boy Scouts of America announced that the National Executive Committee will submit a proposed resolution to its approximately 1,400 voting members on May 20th that would remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone and would maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders of BSA. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. The full text of the resolution is available HERE. At the time, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints merely said they would review the language and study the implications of the proposal.
On April 25th, the LDS Church delivered their answer. They expressed satisfaction at what they call a good-faith effort to address a complex, challenging issue, and said that the BSA proposal constructively addresses a number of important issues that have been part of the on-going dialogue including consistent standards for all BSA partners, recognition that Scouting exists to serve and benefit youth rather than Scout leaders, a single standard of moral purity for youth in the program, and a renewed emphasis for Scouts to honor their duty to God. This is a clear-cut indication that if the new BSA proposal is adopted as currently written, the LDS Church will not pull their Scouting units out of BSA.
Reaction: There was a mixed response from Mormons who are socially conservative. On LDS Freedom Forum, reaction is decidedly mixed. One person supports the Church's decision, saying that just because a boy may have experimented with homosexuality once or twice doesn't mean he should be typecast as "gay" the rest of his life, and adding that BSA is NOT planning on changing the Scout motto. But another person disagrees with the Church's response, and said he sent the following letter to lds.org:
"I agree completely with loving our fellow man and accepting the sinner while not the sin. As an adult I see the benefit of associating with different people. However, I cannot accept or support the church's position on Boy Scouting. Our youth are being taught values and standards that will have to carry them throughout their lives. This includes values of morality and sexuality. Our children are already being bombarded with the need to accept homosexuality in schools, with the television shows and movies they see, in news stories. Associations involved with the LDS Church should be a respite from these unwholesome influences. It is admirable to teach our children the need to accept all people with love and understanding in spite of their imperfections. It is another to say we support and endorse an organization which teaches these practices should be allowed. We teach our children to eschew evil, and yet send them into an organization that says evil is okay. Isn't the troubled turbulence of youth difficult enough without getting this mixed message?"
Dr. Stephen Jones, the former BYU professor who was gently kicked to the curb by the school for daring to deviate from the Official Authorized Version Of 9/11, is also skeptical about encouraging more perestroika towards gays, writing "A friend of mine deals with North Sanpete High School in Utah, and said that a big trend there now is for students to say that they are 'gay'. There seems to be a lot of support (and attention) given to those students who make this announcement". I knew it! The secondary purpose of placing these Gay-Straight Clubs in our schools is recruitment, and Dr. Jones has just provided the proof, although North Sanpete is not on this 2010 list of Utah high schools with GSA clubs.
However, another conservative LDS blogger, Kathryn Skaggs, is absolutely supportive of the Church's statement, characterizing it as "brilliant". While that may be a bit over the top, Skaggs points out that the statement is totally consistent with not only our current outreach to gay church members, but it also impresses her as the way the Savior Himself would have responded. Kathryn Skaggs' credentials as a faithful culture warrior are unimpeachable.
Those who are concerned about the possibility that the LDS Church may be wavering in their fundamental definition of sexual morality should take comfort from three different addresses delivered at the 183rd Annual General Conference which assure us that the Church remains firmly committed to defending traditional sexual behavior:
President Boyd K. Packer: During his address, he said “Tolerance is a virtue, but like all virtues, when exaggerated, it transforms itself into a vice. We need to be careful of the tolerance trap so that we are not swallowed up in it. The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality does not reduce the serious spiritual consequence that is the result of the violation of God’s law of chastity.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks: In his address, he said "Latter-day Saints understand that we should not be of the world or bound to the tradition of men, but like other followers of Christ, we sometimes find it difficult to separate ourselves from the world and its traditions. Some model themselves after worldly ways because, as Jesus said of some whom He taught, 'they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God' (John 12:43). These failures to follow Christ are too numerous and too sensitive to list here. They range all the way from worldly practices like political correctness and extremes in dress and grooming to deviations from basic values like the eternal nature and function of the family".
Elder David A. Bednar: In his address, Elder Bednar firmly reiterated the LDS Church's standard of sexual morality, saying "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship prescribed in God’s plan. Such relations are not merely a curiosity to be explored, an appetite to be satisfied, or a type of recreation or entertainment to be pursued selfishly. They are not a conquest to be achieved or simply an act to be performed. Rather, they are in mortality one of the ultimate expressions of our divine nature and potential and a way of strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife. We are agents blessed with moral agency and are defined by our divine heritage as children of God—and not by sexual behaviors, contemporary attitudes, or secular philosophies".