For the last century, becoming an Eagle Scout was an achievement that signified something noble. It presented a visible message that its bearer was a person of true character and high moral standards.
After five years of hard work, I finally became an Eagle Scout. Such an award is only esteemed because of the meaning behind it. Eagle Scout is the highest award that the Boy Scouts of America has to offer. There are many awards that are given out for participation, but this is not one of them. A boy who achieves this award must fulfill a list of requirements that will forge him into a young man.
The Boy Scouts have been in the business of building character longer than most of us have been alive. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to overestimate the impact scouting has had on my life and the lives of countless other men. When most of us joined the Boy Scouts, we were young boys just trying to learn right from wrong. In this world, those terms have become more relative than ever before in a culture that increasingly insists, “You do what you want to do, and I will do what I want to do, as long as you don’t bother me.”
This makes the Boy Scouts all the more important: Their purpose is to give boys an anchor to transcendent morality and motivation to be men of character. After achieving my Eagle and finishing college, I came back home and volunteered with my local council to help encourage young boys to pursue these valuable standards.
I trust we can all agree that the Boy Scouts of America have been a bastion for character in our culture. Throughout its history, the organization has weathered many challenges and forged its reputation in those fires. In life, the most difficult challenges are often not the big, one-time trials, but the ones that we must face every day. These are the ordinary determinations we face when we wake up and look in the mirror and decide for ourselves how we are going to live. They are the challenges that either slowly wear us down and erode our consciences, or that build us up and strengthen our resolve to live honorable lives.
In recent days, the Boy Scouts have begun to show evidence that such a challenge has been wearing on their consciences. The BSA’s national leaders have proposed a new policy dealing with sexual orientation. If they go forward with this proposed new policy, they will ultimately be saying to the youth of America: “If the culture shifts, so should your character.” In doing so, they will have effectively turned a blind eye to God’s standard of morality enshrined in the Scout Oath and taken a lukewarm position that repudiates character and bravery, both tenets of the Scout Law.
The national leaders must realize they exemplify what it means to follow the Scout Oath. I understand that homosexual activists and several corporations are threatening some of the organization’s funding. However, I would rather see the organization that I know and love fail financially, standing strong in character and teaching the boys of this nation one final lesson in what it means to really keep the Scout Oath and Law, than be drawn to the lure of money. They should stand on the character about which they so boldly teach. The Boy Scouts would lose great credibility in their stand for character by giving in to what amounts to blackmail.
If the homosexual community wishes to participate in similar activities, they are more than free to begin their own organization, rather than tearing down this one.
A final decision has yet to be made, so the question still remains: Will the Boy Scouts maintain the fortitude of their character, or will they finally be worn down by the changing tides of cultural pressure? This Scout is still hopeful and would like to encourage the national leadership to stand strong. I would encourage anyone who is against this proposed new policy to stand on character and bravely speak out. Let us do all we can to ensure that the Boy Scouts remain true to the timeless values that have shaped the character of generations of American boys.
Lance Clevinger, 24, is an Eagle Scout and an intern at the Family Research Council.