Events during the past two months have crescendoed to reveal a massive shift that has changed American culture. I am referring to the big three of: Boy Scouts, Exodus, and the Supreme Court. Actually, these are but the latest installments in a story that has been unfolding for a long time. The larger story is about the standardization of gay identity in our culture.
Here, in brief, is what has happened recently:
The Boy Scouts of America
On May 23, the 1,400-member Boy Scout National Council met in Irving, Texas and voted to remove membership restrictions on openly gay boys. This has practical, symbolic, and precedent-setting implications for this iconic American institution. The vote captured national attention and sends a signal to us all.
Practically, the key word is "openly" which means that sexual orientation is recognized and therefore approved. The Boy Scouts have always claimed that all things sexual have no part in the Scouting identity. Now it does.
Symbolically, this sends a new message about IDENTITY. The Scouts are all about identity -- what it means to be a healthy growing boy and then a man. That image got "updated" in this decision.
In terms of setting precedents, the Boy Scouts will now be soon faced with another decision concerning Scout Masters. In the past, their decision (in 2004) to exclude openly gay men from becoming Scout Masters had been SUPPORTED by the Supreme Court in the 2000 case Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale. That decision simply said that all private organizations have the constitutional right to "set membership standards." The May 23 vote cut the legs out from under any decision to exclude openly gay individuals AT ANY LEVEL.
On June 19, the board of directors of Exodus International met in Irvine, California and voted unanimously to close down their organization. Exodus International was perhaps the most visible Christian ministry nationally reaching gays to help them exit the homosexual lifestyle (hence the name "Exodus"). Their closure is equivalent to James Dobson closing down Focus on the Family because he no longer believed in marriage! Almost unthinkable.
The board issued a statement saying that the shut down of the ministry came "after a year of dialogue and prayer about the organization's place in a changing culture." The president of Exodus Alan Chambers issued a statement saying:
I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents.
He has apologized for the Exodus slogan "Change is Possible."
This is a massive cave in. He is saying that Exodus International's approach to "reparative therapy" doesn't work. Much has been written and said in the aftermath of the demise of Exodus. Just because the approach they have used proved in their minds to be ineffective does not mean that the power of the Cross and the authority of God's Word is also ineffective.
The effect of the Exodus International closure plus the Boy Scouts decision has been something of a "double whammy" (in the words of L'il Abner). Then comes the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court
On Wednesday, June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 5-4 decision, struck down the 17-year old Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA had defined marriage as the union between a "heterosexual couple" and it allowed states to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages granted by other states.
The result of this decision was to, in effect, legitimize and condone same-sex marriage nationally. There are many levels at which this has impact -- ranging from the right of the Supreme Court to make such a decision to the further disintegration of a moral compass. Many predict that United States vs. Windsor (that's the name of this Supreme Court case) will become the new Roe v. Wade.
Our culture is experiencing a "full court press" by the gay community. Judging from the events I have mentioned, it appears they have achieved victory and a new day has come in which homosexuality is now mainstreamed in America.
Along with these steps toward standardizing the gay lifestyle, another move has also taken root. Those who, for whatever reason, question the gay agenda are being demonized and threatened. That would primarily include anyone who believes that the Bible calls homosexual activity SIN, or stands vocally FOR heterosexual marriage. Witness, for example, the back-lash uproar surrounding Chick-fil-A earlier this year.
At stake is not just the cultural predisposition toward homosexuality. On a far larger scale, it is the ability of anyone to believe that the Bible is true, and that it holds moral authority over us. The gay agenda does not stop at acceptance. There are three chapters in the story that has been building over the past many years. Those chapters are: the acceptance, the approval, and the promotion of homosexuality.
Even now, the National Association of Educators (NAE) is producing and distributing curricula aimed at exploring sexual identity. The purpose is to advocate openness and promote experimentation. It is truly a new day in America. The future has arrived.
The real question is "Where do we go from here?" I will in a future blog outline thoughts concerning the response that I feel is needed. It is imperative that the Church continue to compassionately hold up the truth of God's Word. There is no doubt that our world is rapidly changing. It is powerfully comforting to know that God's truth never changes, but instead always liberate.
In the words of the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer, we must be ready to offer "honest answers to honest questions." Even though it appears that the biblical foundations are eroding under our nation, this could also become the Church's finest hour as we shine more brightly the light of the Gospel that transforms lives. To that end may we pray, may we learn, and may we work.