Well, how sad. In a move that makes no “carnal” or moral sense, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has decided to change its position and allow homosexual scouts but not homosexual leaders. If this is news to you, you can read about it here: “Boy Scouts vote to lift ban on [homosexual] youth” (or, frankly, you can read about it just about anywhere; the media seems to be having a party).
Looking purely from an argumentative standpoint, morality aside, the decision seems inept. It is not a compromise that will satisfy those behind the homosexual agenda in the matter. It is only a half-measure, and, as many have already made clear, they will not stop until the whole measure is in place: where distinctions between homosexual and heterosexual identifications play no role at all in Scout matters and homosexuals are allowed as leaders, as well. So the decision won’t end the social pressure. Nor will it change the legal standing of the group in any positive way. Actually it may make things worse, since one of the arguments, as I understand it, that the BSA made to maintain its policies against homosexual participants was that the policy reflected the position of the majority of those who sponsor Scouting, which would include many nominally Christian churches. The positions of those sponsors has not changed appreciably, so the BSA seems to be undercutting one of its own defenses. If the will of its sponsors makes no difference concerning who can be a scout, then why would it make a difference concerning who can be a leader? Again, there is no argumentative sense here.
That it makes no moral sense should be immediately obvious, but perhaps it isn’t so straightforward. The nature of homosexuality has not changed. A scout’s oath to “keep myself… morally straight” has not changed. The public’s opinion of homosexuality is certainly changing, however, so perhaps that’s where it makes sense. Perhaps the BSA has officially agreed that morality is relative and that our standards are completely defined by our society’s current fads and fascinations. If that’s the case, then other parts of the oath, such as “do[ing] my best to do my duty to God” is up for grabs, as well, I suppose.
Regardless, the bid to make it only a matter of accepting homosexual scouts but not homosexual adult leaders is doomed by this call. If one can be “morally straight” and a homosexual before becoming 18-years-old, what makes homosexuality at age 18 and after somehow no longer “morally straight”? If the definition is driven by public sentiment before 18, why is it suddenly an objective absolute after 18? Does a homosexual who has achieved the honored level of Eagle Scout, a recognition that a person is worthy of Scouting’s greatest honor, who turns 18 suddenly have to turn in all of his scouting ties and affiliations and leave the organization, because his age has made him suddenly dishonorable? One who has received the highest honor that Scouting can bestow on a person, representing in many ways the pinnacle of leadership, would be prevented from serving as a leader in the very organization that so recognized him? That doesn’t seem to make sense. I wouldn’t expect that to stand.
The comments I see being made by some BSA decision makers in this is that it will allow them to “serve more kids.” That would seem terribly short-sighted, not to mention rationally incoherent. If it’s a matter of numbers, they would be able to “serve more kids” if they opened up to girls, also. If they are thinking of dropping morality as an issue that they may open the doors wider, then they could, perhaps, “serve more kids” by taking in unrepentantly immoral youth of all sorts. The problem is that they are not simply increasing the numbers they serve in this way; rather, they are fundamentally transforming what it means to say they are “serving” them, at all.
Perhaps I will be surprised. Perhaps they will open the doors to youths who believe they are homosexuals and then be consistently on message that homosexuality is still immoral, and those scouts will be under positive pressure to change, as would any other scout engaged in behavior that is seen as violating their oath. I don’t see any evidence of that, but it is the only way I can imagine such a decision being made that is in any way conceivably consistent with logic and reason.
Well, that and then the possibility that the BSA now does feel that homosexuality is not immoral and that this was the biggest change that they thought they could enact without completely losing all support. Then the goal would be to purposefully undercut their previous arguments so as to have the other changes seem to be “forced” on them so that the end result is that homosexuality is no longer an issue in any way at all. That would be some cold calculating, but not impossible to imagine.
Anyway, my point is that when Mr. Meredith talks about the “falling away” or “rebellion” against God talked about in 2 Thess. 2:3, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away [or 'rebellion', 'defection', 'revolt', 'turning away from a previous standing'] comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,” we are seeing that happen around us.
His insight that this refers to something huge is not only sound biblically and in the proper use of the Greek language, but we see it reflected in the world around us. The Boy Scouts–a shining light to many who, for years, saw them as an example of an organization willing to stand for what was right no matter cost in public perception–provide yet another example.
Yes, it is true that in the end times many true Christians will turn from the faith–whether to the world’s counterfeit Christianity or to other alternatives. That is a given. Paul says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). As self-declared apostles, self-deluded prophets, and self-appointed teachers multiply, we see this happening at a seemingly increasing pace.
And, yes, it is true that outside the Church there is a vast deficit of the truth. For those whom God has not yet called, they simply do not have those precious truths God reveals only to those He is working with at this time–His Church. Actually being a Christian is more than being called a Christian. We’re hated for it, but we recognize that the “Christ” believed on by the vast majority of what is called “Christianity” is a “counterfeit Christ” — as Paul said, “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4) and not the Jesus of the Bible.
But this does not mean that the rest of the world does not have any “truth” to fall away from or rebel against, at least not according to the Bible. Quite the contrary, consider how God speaks through the apostle of the Gentiles: “…for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness…” (Romans 2:14-15). Not that they had the fullness of God’s revelation, but, rather, that there are some things God has placed inherently within us concerning certain elements of morality. There is nothing in the human heart that inclines it to know that the seventh day is holy to God and should be kept holy. Yet, there is something that says, for instance, that parents are to be respected. And, frankly, that homosexuality is not right.
There is a reason that some moral principles are common even within heathen cultures. It’s the reason that those whom Paul describes as groping for God in their ignorance (Acts 17:27) do have some basic, simple principles of God’s Way inherent in their natures–not all of it by far, to be sure, as the entirety is only available through his revelation and the engagement of His Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14)–such that they are still accountable for their actions when they know they’ve done wrong, if not to the same degree as someone who has not only the basic, natural sense of right and wrong but also the revealed knowledge (Luke 12:47-48).
Yet, what we see around us today is an active casting aside of even those things God, in His mercy, made natural within mankind. Patriarchy-based leadership, the Godly structure of the family which has been most natural to civilization, has been on the outs for some time. We see the willingness of society to butcher its unborn children, the natural inclinations and maternal instinct God has placed within mankind, taking a prideful place as more than a right but, incredibly, a “moral” stand. The list could go on and on. But the BSA decision represents another chapter–or at the least a turn of the page in the same chapter–in this increasing rebellion against even the natural truths God has placed within His creation. Homosexual behavior is immoral. And the pride in those who would actively remove that conviction from our societies–both here and abroad–is revealing. It is the pride one sees in the revolutionary, standing against the establishment with “right” on his side. But the revolution is against God, and the “establishment” is the natural order He designed and a sense of which He imparted as a gift of creation.
God’s pattern with peoples and civilizations before intervention in the past often has been not to bring punishment until the sin reaches its fullness. Biblically, this is seen in multiple examples. Consider God’s comment concerning the Amorites in Genesis 15:16, that He would not bring Israel into the land until after some time had passed, “for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Does that mean that the Amorites were a people to whom God had revealed His truth, like He has to His Church, and that he was waiting for them to fall away from that divine revelation? Of course not. They were already a people removed from the standards of God in their behavior and understanding, but God says they had further to fall away from those standards before He planned to intervene. Frankly, we see the same in God’s ultimate dealings with Israel, in which He gave them so much time to change, but eventually time was up.
We see it with Jonah’s being sent to Nineveh. Were the people of Ninevah a called people of God in the sense that they had His laws, were keeping His Sabbaths and Holy Days, and were abiding by His commandments? I see no evidence whatsoever that they were. They were not set apart in the same way Israel was, nor were they given God’s laws like Israel was (cf. Deut. 4:7-8). And did they return to the entirety of God’s law after Jonah’s preaching and prophesying–the entirety of a law which was not fully revealed to them? No, they surely did not. But they did respond in the ways they understood to respond? Yes. Did they repent of at least those things their natures told them were wrong? Yes (Jonah 3:7-9). But more importantly, did God recognize the difference for His purposes at that time? Yes, He did, and he delayed their destruction (Jonah 3:10). Not having the fullness of God’s revealed truth did not prevent them from, as a civilization, having fallen even further from those inherent standards of right and wrong God has allowed to exist in all human beings, nor did it mean that God did not care if they were falling further from those standards or seeking to return to them. Clearly, He did.
The pattern of waiting until “transgressors have reached their fullness” (Dan. 8:23) is a biblical theme, describing the actions of the God of the Bible. And these very biblical ideas–that iniquity may be present without yet being complete, that transgression may not have yet reached its fullness, and that a people without the full revelation of the law can still be held accountable for rebelling against the part they do naturally know and then even shown some mercy for returning to that part–mean that it is possible for those who live in a fallen state with regard to the truth to fall further away, and that those who live in a state of general rebellion can still rebel to greater extent. The idea that one who is in a state of being apart from the fullness of the truth cannot fall away or rebel in a more climactic sense simply has no biblical basis at all.
There are many examples and relevant passages one could review. I will use only one more before I begin to beat the dead horse too excessively… Consider what Paul says of the Gentiles in Romans 1:18-32. It is correctly taken axiomatically that the Gentiles he speaks of, such as in the Greco-Roman world, did not have the special revelation of God concerning all of His beautiful law and understanding, yet he stresses that they had at least that which could be naturally known, from the world around them (v.20) to their own natural design (v.28), and that–even without the fullness of the spiritual revelation–God held them accountable for their rebellion and their falling away from what they did know, explaining that they were choosing not to retain God in their minds (v.28), even if that understanding would have been limited, and that for this rebellion they were deserving of death (v.32).
Anyone who claims that it is impossible for those who don’t have the full truth of God to fall further away from God or to rebel to an even deeper extent simply haven’t read enough of their Bibles. (And I would have been such an “anyone” in the far enough past, but thankfully the Bible’s a hard book to resist!) And those who think God doesn’t notice when organizations like the Boy Scouts make the sorts of decisions like they have recently and doesn’t consider it a worsening of their state and a further distancing themselves from God also don’t seem to know their Bible.
In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul describes the End Time state of affairs:
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”
In the verses afterwards, he describes the impact of this attitude on the Church, specifically, including its reflection in events of his time. But it would be dangerously foolish to think that because he addresses that description in the context of its impact on and within the Church that he is not speaking of a condition that will be true for the whole world, in general. Who would think that?
And we see this state coming into shape in our world right before our very eyes.
However incompletely and imperfectly, to the extent they understood it the Boy Scouts sought to reflect a “love of God” in their organization, and enshrined that love in their oath. Their desire to impart moral goodness to boys and young men had a semblance of godliness. But in embracing something unholy, they step closer to being despisers of good, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, and to denying any power or authority in the form of godliness they seek to maintain. If we don’t see in the Boy Scouts’ decision yet another step toward the world described by 2 Timothy 3, then we aren’t looking.
As Paul says, from such people turn away.