FEB 8, 2018 Devotional: “Women, Girls, and Loving Thy Neighbors”

It’s taken me about a day to put down what I talked about after yesterday’s great morning run with our WAWA group.  The topic is a little bit edgy, and I wanted to make sure I put down some thoughts that ultimately trace back to biblical teachings.  That’s kinda the point of these devotionals, right?

Earlier in the week, I was invited to attend a meeting between my church’s Cub Scout and Boy Scout leaders, as well as leaders from the church’s youth ministry team.  The broader purpose of the meeting was to talk about communications between the two scout organizations, which all agreed was fairly smooth so far.  But one item during the latter portion of the meeting brought about the most discussion.  Late last year, national leaders from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) unanimously agreed to allow girls into the cub scout programs beginning in 2018.  And, perhaps, the writing is on the wall for the boy scouts to likely have the same requirements in the future.

The discussion, somewhat surprisingly, was very mixed.  Some, felt like this was where society has been moving for some time, and the integration between genders is more prevalent.  Others, sided more with “tradition”, saying boys needed to spend time with boys; girls needed to spend time with girls.

One of the more striking comments came from a father who said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do if a girl is doing better at scouting stuff than my son.”

Interesting.

A couple years ago, the Army allowed women to attend the prestigious Ranger School.  As a graduate, I can tell you that it was one of the most difficult schools in all my Army career.  The military calls Ranger School (and the SEALs school) a “leadership” program.  And that’s mostly correct.  I mean, teaching individuals how to perform under extreme conditions such as food deprivation, lack of sleep, swamps, frozen temps, etc., certainly has it’s merits.  Personally, I lost about 30 pounds in 64 days of training.  When my parents came down to Fort Benning, GA for the graduation ceremony, my mom nearly didn’t recognize me because my face and body seemed so emaciated.

The inclusion of women into the Ranger School program doesn’t phase me.  And I’m confident that the standards have not been lowered to allowed an easier bar for women.  A few women have graduated but still many have not passed.  Guess what.  Same thing goes for the men.  My graduating class in 1991 had 32 men finish straight through without recycling any of the four phases out of an initial starting group of 320 men.  I was fortunate or lucky or both…to be one of those 32 men.

Do I feel like my Ranger tab is tarnished with the inclusion of women?  Have I burned it in our backyard fire pit?  Certainly not.

I think the issue of “boy scout / girl scouts” goes well beyond gender.  What about disabled and able-bodied?  How about rich and poor?  Or black and white?  Is it not better to teach our kids now those issues, albeit uncomfortable to them and, heaven forbid, us as parents?

In all honestly, I’m not 100% sold on the integration.  But I’m willing to explore how this can….and will happen.  (My wife says she was shocked when she heard me say that last part!)

Jesus teaches us to love our neighbors.  He doesn’t teach us to love some….no, He teaches us to love all of them.  And I believe that inclusion, despite all it’s fears and challenges, is the first step towards loving one another as Jesus has taught.

I did a quick search on “why” should I love my neighbor.  And I loved what Google revealed.  Here’s three great reasons why:

First, it reminds us of God’s grace.  It is by His grace that we are loved….and it’s that same grace that we can extend to others.

Second, it demonstrates God’s love to one another.  In a world that seems to be doubling-down on hatred in our cultures, God tells us to love one another despite religion, creed, color, race, or economic status, just to name a few.

And finally, it creates opportunities.  There’s a Gallup poll that says 60% of Americans would attend a religious service if they were simply asked.  So, maybe, loving one another opens the door for us all to be more inviting.

I really want my sons to see the value of all people, especially those who are more like “us” than not.  I want them to serve others not like them, play with others not like them, cry with others not like them, and learn to live in a world of more differences than similarities.  And it’s my prayer that opportunities of inclusion between genders, between economic status, and between abilities, can foster that kind of spiritual growth for them and for me…and for all of us as well.

Amen!

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