Culture Friday: Losing the Boy Scouts

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Friday, May 11th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.

Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. 

It’s Culture Friday and time to welcome John Stonestreet. John is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. 

John, good morning.

JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning, Nick.

I’d intended to ask you about this a couple of weeks ago, John, when I first heard this news. It has to do with the Boy Scouts — or, I guess I should say now, what we used to know as the Boy Scouts.

But the story is that next February, the Boy Scouts of America will change the name of its flagship program to “Scouts BSA.”

Now, this may be the final chapter of a book that started to be written in the year 2000, when the scouts won a significant victory at the Supreme Court. You may remember it: The court affirmed the scouts’ First Amendment right to set its membership standards. The battle had been over a gay scoutmaster and the scouts at the time held that membership policy disallowed members to continue in leadership positions in the event they were to hold themselves out as–their words– “open and avowed homosexuals.”

Now, there’s quite a lot of history here, but in short, I’ll emphasize that despite the legal victory, the scouts came under immense pressure from large corporations and what followed, then, was compromise after compromise.

To the point now that the program will cease less than nine months from today even to be known as Boy Scouts.

John, your thoughts on the end of an era for an iconic American organization.

STONESTREET: Well, you know, this has been a, really, a long journey. And it’s a sad journey. And people say, “Well, no, this is still a place for — people will still have fun and people will still learn.” And I don’t doubt any of that. Of course there’s the other problem of the hemorrhaging of members. I mean, since all of this started membership in the scouts has not quite been cut in half, but almost. I think from about 4 million to about 2 and ½ million. And that’s a pretty significant loss of membership.

But deeper than that, the Boy Scouts played a significant role. You and I have talked here many times that the importance of mediating institutions. And that was one of the things that separated America from other nations is just the flourishing of mediating institutions. Between the big state and the individual citizen, home, families, churches, voluntary associations, and there hasn’t been a more important, in terms of the formation of young boys to become young men — there’s not a more important mediating institution in American history, maybe, than the Boy Scouts. I mean, it’s been huge. The sheer amount of Fortune 500 CEOs, congressional leaders, presidents, astronauts, educators, college presidents. I mean, you just kinda go down the list and it’s really played a significant role.

Now, if there were other mediating institutions that were forming boys into young men as opposed to forming boys into perpetual adolescents, then this loss wouldn’t be that big of a loss. But we don’t have that many. I mean, the home is failing young men, by and large in many ways the church fails young men to grow them up into, to actually responsible with an understanding of redemptive masculinity, responsibility, character, putting others first. There’s just — there’s not another mediating institution that exists. And so that’s why I think this is a really big deal. It’s a loss for America.

Well, now, speaking of troubled young men, and, now, this is Canada and not the United States, but I think it’s on point. Yesterday, a 25-year-old man from Toronto appeared in the Finch Avenue courthouse with a new attorney, a specialist in high-profile cases.

And this case certainly qualifies as that.

I mention Finch Avenue, that’s the cross street with Yonge Street. It’s a very densely populated area in the biggest city in Canada – Toronto.

And down Yonge Street, this man, Alek Minassian, allegedly drove a truck up onto a busy sidewalk and killed 10 people. The date was April 23rd.

He was pretty quickly apprehended.

AUDIO: C’mon, get down! No, get down. Get down!

I have a gun in my pocket.

I don’t care. Get down!

I have a gun in my pocket!

Get down! Get down or you’ll be shot!

Shoot me in the head!

Get down! Hands behind your back!

This sound is from a video posted on YouTube. The Toronto policeman is yelling at Minassian to get down. Minassian before surrendering urges the policeman, and this is hard to make out, but he yells, “Shoot me in the head!”

This was in April, and none of us was alone in assuming this was an ISIS copycat attack.

But it now appears to be something quite different: this man is evidently an adherent of something called the “Incel Rebellion.” It’s a movement of frustrated young men — and this is where the term comes from — young men who are involuntarily celibate, “Incel.” In other words, they aspire to live a life of sexual promiscuity, but they’re rejected by women and, as a result, filled with rage. And this guy in Toronto, and I need to emphasize he’s not been tried yet, so I have to stress, he allegedly acted out, he allegedly murdered as many people as he could in the middle of an afternoon.

But John, had you even heard of this before the Toronto attack? I mean, when you say that “bad ideas have victims,” this appears to be a pretty vivid example of that.

STONESTREET: No, that’s exactly right. I mean, we say it all the time quoting the famous line from Richard Weaver “ideas have consequences.” We always add “bad ideas have victims,” but as I said on Breakpoint recently about this particular story, the Incel movement is a direct consequence of the sexual revolution. And those victims in Toronto – and I think we’re up to at least 32 deaths that can be linked at least in some way to the Incel Rebellion.

The first time I heard about it was with Elliot Rodger. You may remember he was the guy in Santa Barbara who drove his car, I think, on the pier. Even Nicolas Cruz, who was the Parkland shooter, the Parkland school shooter, is said to have written Elliot Rodger will not be forgotten in response to that– the video that Elliot Rodger posted. And that video was — that Elliot Rodger posted back in 2014 was this: that attractive women wouldn’t sleep with them.

Where does this come from? I mean, throughout the history of the world, ya know, it was pretty much assumed that not all guys could sleep with all girls, right? I mean, this is a direct consequence of the sexual revolution, so we feed young men years and years of pornography, disconnected from reality, obviously, not just something that changes or appeals to their libido, but something that actually changes the way they think about women. And even rewires their own brains and gives them false expectations. And then we don’t expect them to grow up, so we’ve got the culture of perpetual adolescence – something that we’ve talked about before and I spent a whole lot of time talking about in my new book with Brett Kunkle, this idea of perpetual adolescence.

So we don’t teach them responsibility. We give them hours and hours of porn, which feed into this kind of false sense of expectation and what they deserve. We tell them, and this is the other lie of the sexual revolution, that sexual fulfillment is the suma bonum. I mean, it is the highest good in life. It is what life is all about. There’s nothing more important than that. It is the source of our human dignity. I mean, that’s what’s being argued by the LGBT movement is that sexual expression is — to be refused sexual expression is to be refused dignity, to be — to not have sexual autonomy… You feed all that together and of course the Incel movement exists. What happens when our sexual autonomy collides with someone else’s sexual autonomy? In other words, a guy is taught from day one that he can get whatever woman that he wants, that he doesn’t have to actually show responsibility for women, and that his sexual autonomy is his own highest dignity, and that collides with someone else who just says no. What happens? Not in every case, praise God, but I’ll tell you what, this is an example of an underground, clandestine, web-driven, internet-driven reality. They’re spending dozens of dozens of dozens and hundreds, even more than that, hours watching porn on the computer and then when a woman tells them no, they go back on the computer and commiserate in back rooms, dark, back rooms on the web about how they’re owed or deserve something.

This is directly connected. What institution, right? If homes aren’t raising young men, if the Boy Scouts aren’t teaching boys to become young men, if we don’t have anything else to teach boys to become young men, then their souls will be catechized at the hands of the internet. And this is what the internet offers them. It’s sad, but it’s one of those consequences. And ideas have consequences, bad ideas have victims. This is another set of bad ideas of the sexual revolution that’s creating the victims.

John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. John, thank you. We’ll talk to you next time.

STONESTREET: Thanks, Nick.

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa) In a Thursday, March 1, 2018 photo, Ian Weir, left, smiles as he stands with his twin sister Tatum after a cub scout meeting in Madbury, N.H.

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