If you haven’t heard, the LDS Church issued a statement on the policy change the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is considering that would allow gay scouts – but no gay scout masters. Â The statement is a masterpiece of subtlety and nuance – it says everything without saying anything.
Of note, the words “gay” and “homosexual” don’t appear in the statement.
A lot has been made about this statement as it seems laudatory of the change. Â But the statement never clearly comes out and says, “Yep, we are fully on board with gay scouts.” Â Instead it says things like, “[we] are satisfied that BSA has made a thoughtful, good-faith effort to address issues that, as they have said, remain ‘among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today.'” And, “We are grateful to BSA for their careful consideration of these issues.” Â In other words, the statement says that the Church is happy with the BSA’s efforts to consider these issues. Â That’s all the statement clearly states.
However, it insinuates that the Church is in favor of the change, and that is how most media outlets have interpreted the statement, despite the fact that the statement never explicitly says that it is in support of allowing gay scouts.
So, what’s going on here? Â It seems like at least two things were influential in the wording of this statement.
First, the LDS Church can’t openly say that it welcomes gay scouts because it would offend the many homophobic members, like Boyd Packer. Â By welcoming gay scouts, that would be tantamount to endorsing gay scouts, and they can’t do that without pissing off potentially thousands of their conservative, bigoted members. Â So, the statement insinuates support without stating support.
Second, the BSA policy change reflects an interesting perspective on homosexuality that I think LDS Inc. supports. Â Gay scouts are okay, because they are young and, hopefully, can be taught that being gay is wrong. Â They’ll grow out of it, so they can tolerate gay scouts. Â Plus, they are unlikely to be having gay sex, which is what homophobe Packer seems to really have an issue with. Â But gay scoutmasters – well, they can’t be tolerated. Â Why? Â Because that would suggest that the religion endorses homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle rather than a sinful desire that needs to be overcome. Â Thus, the BSA policy change actually already aligns with LDS Inc.’s views towards homosexuals: identifying as having “same-sex attraction” is fine; it’s the same as saying I’m addicted to alcohol or porn. Â But actually embracing your homosexual orientation and living as a homosexual is wrong, because that undermines the idea that homosexuality is sinful (just like saying “I occasionally watch porn and feel no guilt over it” or “I drink alcohol socially and am a responsible adult” both illustrate that sin is socially constructed).
So, young gays are okay. Â But old gays are a threat to the Mormon sacred canopy under which acting gay is sinful. Â This isn’t change on the part of the Church; this is insinuating being progressive without actually being progressive.