May 26th, 2013
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Dear Parishioners of Our Lady Star of the Sea,
Although I am not at all surprised, I am certainly disappointed in the recent decision of the Boy Scouts of America to change their membership policy. The incredible legacy of the Boy Scouts of America and the amount of good they have done for so many years, creates a particular sadness that they would compromise the good of their mission and the good of the boys they serve for the sake of political correctness.
The exact policy change is this: “to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone.” That is to say that those young men aged 10 to 18 who identify themselves as “gay” or “homosexual” will not be excluded from scouting based on the fact of that self-identification.
I do not feel that it is possible for us to live out, and to teach, the authentic truth about human sexuality within the confines of the Boy Scout’s new policy and so I would like to give an explanation as to why it will be necessary for our parish to part ways with the New Boy Scouts.
For many years we have seen headlines that proclaim a genetic origin for homosexuality. Various groups in concert with a willing media have tried to convince people that being “gay” is a genetically defined trait, as if being sexually attracted to a person of the same sex is no different an expression of DNA than one’s height or the color of one’s skin. The reality however, is that there is nothing scientific or logical in such a position.
The genesis of same-sex attraction is much more complicated. As the Catholic Medical Association pointed out in their document, Homosexuality and Hope (November, 2000):
“Individuals experience same-sex attractions for different reasons. While there are similarities in the patterns of development, each individual has a unique, personal history. In the histories of persons who experience same-sex attraction, one frequently finds one or more of the following:
- Alienation from the father in early childhood, because the father was perceived as hostile or distant, violent or alcoholic, (Apperson 1968 ; Bene 1965 ; Bieber 1962 ; Fisher 1996 ; Pillard 1988 ; Sipova 1983 )
- Mother was overprotective (boys), (Bieber, T. 1971 ; Bieber 1962 ; Snortum 1969 )
- Mother was needy and demanding (boys), (Fitzgibbons 1999 )
- Mother emotionally unavailable (girls), (Bradley 1997 ; Eisenbud 1982 )
- Parents failed to encourage same-sex identification, (Zucker 1995 )
- Lack of rough and tumble play (boys), (Friedman 1980 ; Hadden 1967a )
- Failure to identify with same/sex peers, (Hockenberry 1987 ; Whitman 1977 )
- Dislike of team sports (boys), (Thompson 1973 )
- Lack of hand/eye coordination and resultant teasing by peers (boys), (Bailey 1993 ; Fitzgibbons 1999 ; Newman 1976 )
- Sexual abuse or rape, (Beitchman 1991 ; Bradley 1997 ; Engel 1981 ; Finkelhor 1984; Gundlach 1967 )
- Social phobia or extreme shyness, (Golwyn 1993 )
- Parental loss through death or divorce, (Zucker 1995)
- Separation from parent during critical developmental stages. (Zucker 1995)
Through no fault of their own, through the breakdown of families, through the failures of society at large young people can find themselves struggling with same-sex attraction. The question is, what is the best way to help them? How do we offer hope and healing?
The New Boy Scouts are basically offering a program of ratifying a label of “gay”, which the young man has placed on himself, and which so many elements of society also are happy to place on him.
A survey was done to poll the scouting community as to their opinions concerning the possibility of a policy change, following is one of the questions (the questions were extremely leading, as you can see):
Tom started in the program as a Tiger Cub, and finished every requirement for the Eagle Scout Award at 16 years of age. At his board of review Tom reveals that he is gay. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the review board to deny his Eagle Scout award based on that admission?"
Pretty obvious what answer they are looking for.
Based on the more scientific and research backed approach of the Catholic Medical Association here would be a series of more pointed questions which would actually get to the issues that could lead to hope and healing for the boy, rather than imprisoning him in that self-identification for the sake of political correctness:
Tom’s father was an alcoholic; he abandoned the family when Tom was five. To compensate, Tom’s mother was overprotective and began to depend upon Tom even from a very young age. Because of this, Tom never got to play with other boys his age and never played sports. Tom was molested by one of his mother’s boyfriends. Since the age of 12 Tom has been confused about his sexual desires and fantasies and thinks he might be gay. Is all of this acceptable? Should we all tell Tom that this is normal? Should we affirm that this 16 year old boy is, in fact, “gay”?
Or should we not have the courage and the love to stand up and say this is a tragedy, an all too common heartbreaking disaster? Should we not admit that it is sad and wrong from beginning to end– and that we are going to do everything we can to help kids like Tom?
Our Lady Star of the Sea parish and our youth programs are willing to accept Tom as a casualty in the disaster that is so often the modern family. We are willing to accept him as confused, as unsure of his masculinity, as having had a hard life, as a kid who needs help, compassion, love, mentoring, guidance – and most importantly we are willing to share the love and healing of Jesus Christ with him. But I’m not willing to put the definitive label “gay” on him.
The CMA document continues with some very important points, which guide my thinking on this issue:
“While a number of studies have shown that children who have been sexually abused, children exhibiting the symptoms of GID (gender identification disorder), and boys with chronic juvenile unmasculinity are at risk for same-sex attractions in adolescence and adulthood, it is important to note that a significant percentage of these children do not become homosexually active as adults. (Green 1985 ; Bradley 1998)
For some, negative childhood experiences are overcome by later positive interactions. Some make a conscious decision to turn away from temptation. The presence and the power of God's grace, while not always measurable, cannot be discounted as a factor in helping an at-risk individual turn away from same-sex attraction. The labeling of an adolescent, or worse a child, as unchangeably "homosexual" does the individual a grave disservice. Such adolescents or children can, with appropriate, positive intervention, be given proper guidance to deal with early emotional traumas.”
So what are we going to do?
Our parish cannot be involved with a group that has decided to ratify or approve the self-identification of a 10-18 year old boy as “gay” or “homosexual”. To me it is cruel, and abusive and absolutely contrary to the Gospel to in any way confirm a teenager in the confusion of same-sex attraction, which is what the New Boy Scout policy will do.
And so, we are going to redouble our efforts to create a community that is supportive of happy, healthy, holy marriages. In our marriage preparation we are going to help couples through a serious process of discernment in preparation for the vows they will make of lifelong, faithful love which is open to life. We will do offer more for the enrichment of marriage in terms of retreats and workshops to help couples in living out their vows. We are going to teach the full truth of human sexuality – especially the truth about contraception as the greatest destroyer of marriage and family life.
We are going to continue to preach the truth from natural law and Sacred Scripture that kids should have a mom and a dad who love each other and who love them – that kids do best in that environment. But we are also going to try to help the great number of families, who, through no fault of their own, or through past mistakes find themselves in difficult situations and in less than optimal circumstances – and we are going to do our best to help them and to provide whatever we can for them to be as successful as possible. We are going to try to provide family activities for moms and dads, single parents, divorced parents, grandparents raising their grandkids – really for anyone who is striving to live the Catholic faith in the mixed up mess of a modern world that we live in.
We are going to provide youth activities for any and all youth. And in our programs we will have strong mentors, good examples of Christian men and women; we will teach the Gospel; we will challenge kids to live the virtues; we will teach the truth in a very confused world; and we will invite our youth into a friendship with Jesus Christ that can heal any past hurts. Our current Fraternus and Fidelis programs are well equipped to help cultivate authentically masculine and feminine identities. We will also develop new programs to help replace what we will be losing from the legacy of Scouting.
I am very aware that my objection to the change in the New Boy Scouts is increasingly considered bigoted and backward. I know that there are many good people within the Catholic Church who will disagree with me. I am aware that in many people’s minds “homosexual” identity is the new civil-rights issue and that there has been huge swing in public opinion on this issue over the past few years.
But I won’t put public opinion ahead of the good of the boys and young men in my parish, and I won’t pretend that polls can trump the truths about sexuality and humanity that are revealed to us, first of all by natural law, and confirmed in Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Fr. Derek Lappe
Pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea