Former SBC President explains why his church is severing ties with the Boy Scouts

Bryant Wright is the pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church and a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. In the video above, he explains why he is leading his church to sever ties with the Boy Scouts. I expect we’ll be seeing a lot of this kind of thing in the coming months.

41 Responses to Former SBC President explains why his church is severing ties with the Boy Scouts

  1. Lauren Law June 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    I pray we’ll see a lot of this in coming months. What an opportunity for Royal Ambassadors to step up and become attractive to Christian parents of boys. I’m so appreciative that there are churches willing to stay true to God’s Word.

    Of course, churches will now be called bullies. Everyone who thinks love and respect mean acceptance of ungodly behaviors will make the churches and their pastors and members out to be intolerant and hateful. None of them will be able to see that the decision by the Boy Scouts was bullying…pressuring churches to change their standards of holiness. The Boy Scouts showed an incredible lack of respect for the many, many churches that have embraced them and given them a place to meet for many years.

    Thank you for sharing this pastor’s loving an well thought out response.

  2. Ken Temple June 8, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    This was communicated very well and graciously and standing on the principles of God’s Word. I totally agree with Bryant Wright on this issue, and Lauren Law’s comment, that all other biblical churches will do the same and cause the Boy Scouts to reconsider and cause the whole gay agenda in our culture to suffer a major blow and set back.

  3. James Bradshaw June 8, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    Popular pastor John MacArthur believes there is “no common ground” between biblical Christianity and Mormonism. He considers it a “damnable heresy” … “under God’s anathema”.

    From the comments on sites like Townhall to RedState, it seems most fundamentalists agree.

    Why bring this up? Well, I’ve yet to see one objection to Mormons serving as either scouts or leaders in the BSA, despite the fact that this has the effect of mainstreaming the life and beliefs of these members.

    If anything, religious affiliation is more of a choice than sexual orientation, which seems hardwired from one’s early years. People switch denominations and religious beliefs all the time: it is much more fluid than orientation.

    As such, this all seems more like prejudice than principle. Why deny youths who are simply being honest access to a group that fosters discipline and self-sacrifice for one’s community?

    • Nathan DeFalco June 8, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

      Because Mormons aren’t pushing for affirmative action. Because pastors won’t one day end up in jail because they preached against mormonism. Because showering and sleeping in the same tent with Mormons isn’t incredibly uncomfortable. Because Mormons don’t expect you to automatically accept their lifestyle or be labeled a bigot. Because your hypotheticals and equivocals, Ken, do not take into account what’s going on with the push to accept homosexuality.Because those boys have families that are not “simply being honest, wanting access to a group” but, much, much more.

    • Chris Ryan June 8, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

      James that’s a really good point. The very First Commandment says, “Thou shall have no other Gods before me.” Yet you’d never know that from the outrage. We should ask the good pastor if he lets openly Jewish Scouts serve in the Troop. Or openly Muslim Scouts serve in the Troop. By his standards anyone who isn’t a Christian shouldn’t be allowed to participate because they’re in open rebellion to Christ.

      (btw, this is a rhetorical question; Mormons, Jews and Muslims have been participating in BSA for decades; http://www.scouting.org/About/FactSheets/operating_orgs/Islamic.aspx )

      As Christians we have a responsibility to make sure that our actions and words are Bible-centered. But a single minded focus on homosexuality–and not other sins–reveals when we’re letting personal disgust at homosexuality get ahead of Bible-centered instruction. When we let our personal disgust interfere with The Word we’re disrupting God’s message–just as Jonah did.

  4. Chris Ryan June 8, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    You know I’m trying to remember when Jesus kicked someone to the curb…and I’m having trouble doing it…I’m also having a hard time seeing how this squares with Paul’s instructions in Galatians 6:1.

    I suppose if you pastor a church and you regularly kick out people who smoke, drink, swear, lie, fornicate, and give themselves to gluttony, then, just to be evenhanded, you must kick out of your church homosexuals as well.

    But if you don’t regularly kick out smokers, drinkers, fornicators, the gluttonous and the rest… well maybe you should just treat homosexuals the same. If a church–or a Scout troop–consisted of nothing but non-sinners, it’d be an awfully small church.

    And, btw, camping with a gay guy no more condones their lifestyle than working with a Buddhist condones their theology.

    • Nathan DeFalco June 8, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

      What if those smokers, drinkers, fornicators, gluttons, and the rest were pushing for you to accept their position and consider what they are doing to be okay? Because that’s what’s going on with the movement in our country to accept homosexuality.

      • Chris Ryan June 8, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

        Nathan, there are some gay activists who seek acceptance as citizens, and others who seek approval of their lifestyle. As Christians we can’t approve of homosexuality, but as Americans we have to accept our fellow citizens.

        But judging from all the beer commercials, smoking billboards, Super Size meals, and scantily-clad dancers on TV, I’d say that those other groups ARE trying to push their lifestyle. And through Christ the Church’s message will be just as effective combating homosexuality as it is combating other sins. Homosexuality was actually much more prominent during Jesus’ time than in our own; and yet the early Church grew like wildfire.`

        • Nathan DeFalco June 9, 2013 at 12:41 am #

          When I say “push”, I mean with legal force.

          • Lauren Bertrand June 9, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

            None of those other constituents you mentioned need to apply legal force because their behavior is already legally sanctioned. We don’t deny fat people the right to eat super-sized fast food, or to walk down the street wearing clothes that don’t leave much to the imagination. Nor do we deny them the right to marry.

            • Michael Lynch June 9, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

              Our society does try to help “fat people” with their obesity problems though. So….

              • Lauren Bertrand June 11, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

                Indeed, weight loss programs abound, Michael. But successful completion of one has never been a condition determining admittance into a church, that I’m aware of. And the treatment of obesity is always framed through the context of improving a person’s health; I have never heard an argument about the sins of gluttony.

                Perhaps these arrested street preachers should consult with the lawyers used by the Westboro Baptist Church. This shrewd family finds away to alienate everyone–no doubt a conscious decision–and their rhetoric is far more inflammatory than your average Jonathan Edwards. Yet the laws protect them every time, as well they should–as well they should protect those other preachers (who might just not be able to afford such great legal representation).

            • Nathan DeFalco June 10, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

              What Michael said. Plus, if you don’t think pastors will eventually be put in jail for preaching against homosexuality, then you’re just willfully ignorant:

              http://www.christian.org.uk/news/cops-arrest-preacher-over-christian-beliefs/

              http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2010/03/29/street-preacher-fined-1000-for-homophobia/

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=h0MV3Ls1-BM#!

              If you don’t think this is just a short trip over the pond, then just keep your head in the sand.

              And in a broader way, there is a push to silence conservative pastors:

              http://www.change.org/petitions/u-s-department-of-defense-remove-anti-gay-pastor-greg-laurie-from-pentagon-day-of-prayer-on-5-2-13

              http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2013/01/louie-giglio-withdraws-from-inauguration-over-past-sermon-on-homosexuality.html

              Laws like the Matthew Shephard Act are needless and open the doors for thought crimes. But, more immediate than that, “hate speech” is going to be really hard to disprove. What if a man kills a homosexual because his pastor taught him that homosexuals are going to hell and that they put homosexuals to death in the Old Testament.

              I see the slippery slope, don’t you?

            • Nathan DeFalco June 10, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

              Oh and let’s not forget this juicy bit of legislation:

              http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/01/us/california-gay-therapy-ban

              • Lauren Bertrand June 10, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

                Though I favor gay rights, I would never encourage legislation to stop reparative therapy. I think it is unconstitutional. So Evangelicals have every right to “help” through therapy, even though I think it is ineffective. I also don’t much care for aromatherapy or saunas, but they work wonders for some people–I’d never want to deny them that right.

                In response to Michael’s assertion that we help fat people, indeed we do offer weight-loss programs in abundance. We also accommodate them when they’re perfectly content with their gluttony and we never turn them out of our churches. We don’t restrict the rights of fat people until they repent or actively attempt to lose weight.

                • Nathan DeFalco June 10, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

                  I’m glad you’re not personally against it, Lauren. If you were writing the laws, I’d feel safe. But, your not. And these kinds of laws are showing us it is not about giving homosexuals equal freedom. It’s about forcing those who disagree with them to change.

                  • Lauren Bertrand June 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

                    I’d say it’s about both. Fundamentally my leanings are nearly always libertarian, which is why I oppose bans on reparative therapy and most bans on gay rights in equal measure. I’m confident both can co-exist reasonably peaceably and that we can use the Brandeisian “laboratories of democracy” to let individual states decide how far to take each measure, in terms of religious freedoms versus gay rights–which are not wholly in mutual opposition. In fact, we already do this. Some states include gays as a protected class from discrimination–many don’t.

                    So in that regard, I feel that the bans on gay scouts were unconscionable because they, too, forced “those who disagree with them to change” by completely excluding them if they did not change–and, like I said, I disagree with Evangelicals that people can change their sexualities. I personally do not think either side can remotely claim moral high ground, though obviously both are trying.

                • Michael Lynch June 10, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

                  Eating, in and of itself, doesn’t go against God’s design in the creation order. It can go against it when eating is abused. Homosexuality ALWAYS goes against God’s design. This is something I haven’t seen discussed much lately.

                  • Lauren Bertrand June 10, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

                    Really? It seems that’s virtually all we hear from Evangelical blogs these days. A place like the Christian Post releases an average of 2-3 a day on the subject, so if you don’t feel like you’re getting your quota of “Homosexually is fundamentally always wrong” here, you should be able to find plenty of it there.

                    Unlike many who favor gay rights, I would never begin to claim that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality. I can see that it’s clear on the matter. However, I’m also not a believer, though I still respect the good book’s august power and its authority on some matters. I simply very unapologetically admit that I cherry pick. But that’s exactly what I see others do when they make excuses for other sins that are prevalent in Evangelical churches…which is why gluttony consistently raises its ugly head in these arguments. Eating may indeed not go against God’s design, but abuse of eating manifests itself quite visibly in those who commit the sin repeatedly, and I hold firm that I have never once heard of a church that has cast aside these sinners until they are healed or repent of their sins. Most churches, Evangelical and otherwise, can’t afford to repudiate the gluttons.

                    • Michael Lynch June 11, 2013 at 7:05 am #

                      Contrary to the popular saying “sin is sin,” some sins are worse than others. There are sins we call heinous sins. When certain sins are allowed to persist, they are damaging to the body. Any church that is going to last has a system of discipline and excommunication in place. The unrepentant adulterer will be confronted and urged to repent just as the homosexual would be. I don’t know that overeating ought to be considered heinous. I have heard pastors address it from the pulpit though.

                    • Chris Ryan June 12, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

                      All “sin is sin”. There is no such thing as “heinous” sin. The only Biblical caveat to that is: 1) Blaspheming the Holy Spirit; and 2) Successful suicide; and that’s because those are unforgivable sins.

                      To draw any other conclusion is to use extra-Biblical reasoning. That is to say, human logic & human values. But as the Bible repeatedly proves, man’s ways are not God’s ways.

                      Of all faith traditions, us evangelicals–most of whom profess to be literalists, or fundamentalists–must only sanction Bible-centered doctrines.

                      Its because of this flesh-based need to judge others that Jesus warned his followers in Matthew 7:3 not to be hypocritical and judgmental.

                      If anyone can come up with a Bible-centered way to treat some sinners differently than other sinners God bless you. Just make sure its tied to an actual Scripture & doesn’t lean on human understanding.

  5. Nathan DeFalco June 9, 2013 at 12:40 am #

    This isn’t about the house of God. This is about The Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts are not under the authority of a local church or even under scripture. They’ll consider any input a local church has on the matter as infringing on their jurisdiction. How about this: Let’s stop pretending The Boy Scouts is a Christian organization that local churches are in charge of and invite the gay boys in question to come to church- where we have the freedom to share the gospel with them and show them what God’s standard of living really is.

    • Jason Kates June 10, 2013 at 9:37 am #

      Nathan, you are incorrect when you say it’s about only the BS and not the church. Wright clearly wasn’t attempting to exert the authority of his church or Scripture over BS, he was simply removing his church as a sponsor of a troop. He was addressing his church’s reaction more than anything.

    • Carson J. Rogers June 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

      This. A million times this.

      • Carson J. Rogers June 12, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

        This should have been in response to Nathan’s comment, “Let’s stop pretending The Boy Scouts is a Christian organization that local churches are in charge of and invite the gay boys in question to come to church- where we have the freedom to share the gospel with them and show them what God’s standard of living really is.”

        Not sure why I couldn’t figure out the commenting system.

  6. Hannah Lewis June 9, 2013 at 1:14 am #

    Silencing the opinion of those who disagree with you… classy, Denny, classy.

    • Lauren Bertrand June 10, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

      Agreed. Someone did the same to me….I guess I took too strong of a stand, though I don’t believe I used any language that is typically verboten. Not a healthy way to foster further discussion.

  7. James Bradshaw June 9, 2013 at 7:04 am #

    Nathan writes: “Because Mormons aren’t pushing for affirmative action.”

    Neither are gays. They’re looking for equal opportunity. Create a law that seeks to ban access to employment to Mormons. I guarantee you that you’ll see a backlash.

    “Because pastors won’t one day end up in jail because they preached against mormonism. ”

    The Supreme Court recently found in favor of Westboro Baptist to preach their version of the “Bad News” at a funeral near you. Your concerns are unfounded (certainly in this country).

    “Because showering and sleeping in the same tent with Mormons isn’t incredibly uncomfortable.”

    Sorry, but your discomfort isn’t the only consideration here. There are a of folks that are “uncomfortable” with blacks or at least interracial marriage. Should we create separate facilities for blacks and interracial couples so that racists aren’t “inconvenienced”?

    “Because Mormons don’t expect you to automatically accept their lifestyle or be labeled a bigot.”

    I personally don’t care whether you like what you *think* my lifestyle consists of or not. The issue is whether you’re singling us out for unjust treatment in every facet of life because you just plain don’t like us.

    • buddyglass June 9, 2013 at 9:50 am #

      In the context of hate speech the criteria for legal action is this:

      http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/brandenburg_test

      Unless a pastor’s sermons are calculated to incite the congregation to commit violence against gays he’s probably safe.

      • Nathan DeFalco June 10, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

        A person murders another person because they are gay. Then he says, “My pastor told me that homosexuality is a sin that will damn you to hell and in the Old Testament they used to put unrepentant homosexuals to death. That’s why I killed this guy.”

        So, should that pastor go to jail because he preached exactly what the Bible said and some idiot took what he said out of context and used it to justify homicide? See? This is why hate crimes are a joke. Completely unnecessary and placing blame and responsibility on people who aren’t responsible.They are politically motivated laws that should have no place in our society.

        • buddyglass June 10, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

          “So, should that pastor go to jail because he preached exactly what the Bible said and some idiot took what he said out of context and used it to justify homicide? ”

          No he shouldn’t, and that’s exactly how the law works. Note what I said: “unless a pastor’s sermons are calculated to incite the congregation to commit violence”. In your hypothetical, the sermon wasn’t calculated to incite the congregation to commit violence. It’s not the pastor’s fault if some nut job hears him say, “Homosexual practice is sinful,” and decides that means he has to murder gay people.

          • Nathan DeFalco June 10, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

            Hate crimes are redundant. Any sub-group can be hated. The fact that hate crimes exist are purely for political purposes. That makes them extremely suspicious and causes me to doubt whether or not they will be interpreted the way you just described.

  8. Jason Kates June 9, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    I love Bryant Wright. Gentle, faithful dude.

  9. buddyglass June 9, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    The more I consider the matter, the more I’m convinced the BSA really dropped the ball on this one. And not because they decided to let in gay scouts per se. If I were them, I’d have acknowledged that there are different views about what constitutes “moral” behavior. I’d have allowed individual troops to define “moral” as they see fit, subject to this restriction: a troop may not label as “immoral” the failure to engage in religious practice that is generally not thought to be morally binding on those outside the religion.

    So, for instance, a troop sponsored by a synagogue couldn’t require its scouts (some of whom are gentile) to abstain from pork. One sponsored by a mosque couldn’t require its members (some of whom aren’t Muslim) to pray to Mecca five times a day. Etc. Either could, however, exclude gay scouts, insofar as the immorality of homosexual practice is seen as “universal” and applicable even to those outside either of those faiths.

    I’d further develop a boiler plate statement that describes a “generally agreed upon” definition of what constitutes “immorality” and then require any troop that amends the statement to be up front about that amendment when engaging with prospective members. The boiler plate statement wouldn’t label homosexual practice immoral, since that’s not generally agreed upon.

    Under this plan, a troop sponsored by a SBC church could continue to exclude gay scouts. It would endorse the boiler plate statement on morality, but with an addition like: “In addition to the above, and in keeping with the Bible and the traditional teachings of the Church throughout history, we regard homosexual practice as being in conflict with the requirement that scouts live moral lives and cannot grant membership to openly gay scouts.”

    Jamborees might still be tricky. I can imagine some states trying to exclude troops that decline to exclude gay scouts. So, maybe the national organization has to stipulate that the organizers of jamborees may not exclude troops from attendance based on their amendments to (or lack of amendments to) the boiler plate statement on morality. If SBC sponsored troops in liberal-leaning states decided to boycott the jamboree (or attend another state’s event) then it would be their prerogative to do so.

  10. Paul Reed June 9, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

    What we say on the Internet, to our friends, or even to our congregations about Boy Scouts is meaningless. If we allow our sons to stay in BSA after this, the message we send is this: “We are okay with BSA’s decision about homosexuality”.

  11. Scott Lencke June 10, 2013 at 3:04 am #

    I believe Chris Ryan’s comments above are spot on. I’m not sure why we keep making the mistake of what sins to continually point out (and expel those connected) and which ones not to point out (and expel). The usual answers has to do with “willful participation” in knowing what is wrong. But how much stuff are we involved in over our lives that we are not aware of, until God graciously works & reveals it? If the Lord revealed all, we’d be crushed under that knowledge. So what of Mormons, Muslims, alcoholics, etc?

    I think theologian Roger Olson has some very healthy & wise thoughts in his recent post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2013/06/gay-boy-scouts-so-what/

  12. Brett Cody June 10, 2013 at 8:28 am #

    Thank you, Denny for the post. And thank God for Bryant Wright’s honest, faithful and firm stance on the Word of God.

  13. Jack Brooks June 11, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    We are a church that teaches the traditional Christian view of marriage, and we will sever ties if / when the Scouts approve homosexual leaders; or if this troop should ever start tolerating such things. But we’re supporting our local Scout leaders, the people we actually know, not some distant BSA board. We do this in the same way that we support our local Christian school faculty, even though we know there are students who are involved with teen drinking, cutting, and other sins. We believe there is a right response between “0” (not caring) and “nuclear bomb” (forcing the troop out). If the BSA ever says that homosexuality is okay for its own people we will be done. But God is not powerless, and large-scale repentance can happen — remember Nineveh.

  14. Lauren Bertrand June 11, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    Michael Lynch, your comment at 7:05am on 6/11 still sounds like you’re drawing a personal conclusion as to which sins are worse. Obviously we can’t get into Biblical semantics (and you’d no doubt win that argument), but I do know that the book is very clear numerous times that gluttony remains an formidable sin. I’ve said it numerous times: the pervasiveness of gluttony/obesity makes it a far more palpable, visible problem in every American church than is homosexuality. It may very well explain why Americans don’t live as long as people in some countries that are quite a bit poorer than we are.

    Gluttony is ubiquitous. Why is it not heinous? The only possible response is that it doesn’t evoke a feeling of revulsion–but why not? If someone in 1920 saw the average church today, what would he/she think? Obviously I’m setting up a straw man, but I will concede that my guess is most people from that time would look at the displays of obesity AND homosexuality and be disgusted by both.

  15. Michael Lynch June 12, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    At Chris Ryan: Jesus said to Pilate, “He who delivered me to you has the greater sin.” There is plenty of biblical evidence to support the fact that some sin is worse than others. That doesn’t mean we say some sin is “better,” but some sin is worse. And we do treat certain sins different than others–it’s why there are different consequences for different crimes. This was also the case in OT law if you want more biblical evidence. There is also evidence that there will be degrees of eternal punishment (“it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah”). And is it really wrong to use human logic here? I would call it common sense. You would say Hitler’s crimes are the same as my daughter’s tantrums?

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