Monday, December 11, 2006

The Boy Scouts and the Ten Commandments Hike

Father Hollywood's picture appears in the photo gallery of Cub Scouts Pack 378 from an event called the Ten Commandments Hike - which took place the in the afternoon the day after Thanksgiving.

The idea is to hike around New Orleans, visiting a different house of worship for an explanation of one of the commandments from the point of view of that tradition. The hike included non-Christian traditions (e.g. Judaism, Islam, Latter Day Saints) as well as Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Methodist, and Episcopal visits. It was a good opportunity for the scouts to see how different religions - and even different traditions within Christianity - interpret and make use of the Ten Commandments in their confessions.

The Lutheran church normally used as a stop on the hike is currently vacant, and is still being restored following Hurricane Katrina, so the Lutheran presentation was given in a United Church of Christ building that rents out some of its campus to a local theater.

It was a great opportunity to address the boy scouts and their families regarding a little background history of the Lutheran tradition, the Small Catechism, and the various uses of the law in Lutheran theology.

I was assigned the Ninth Commandment on their hike: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife" - which, in the Roman Catholic/Lutheran numbering methodology (which I understand dates back to St. Augustine), is actually part of the Tenth Commandment. Protestants and Eastern Orthodox have a different way of numbering the commandments, and Jews have one even different from that. The organizers of the event blended the various numbering systems so as not to seem biased to one over the others.

Here is the text from Luther's Small Catechism (1986 translation, copyright Concordia Publishing House, using the New International Version translation of the Bible) regarding this commandment:

The Tenth Commandment

You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor's wife, workers, or animals, or turn them against him, but urge them to stay and do their duty.

This gave me a great opportunity to demonstrate how this commandment isn't only about the obvious: the integrity of marriage and family life, but extends to the very concept of duty, and how our duty includes encouraging and exhorting others to carry out their duty as God calls them to a specific vocation. The Boy Scouts are one of the few organizations that are teaching young men about such seemingly antiquated concepts as duty, honor, chivalry, and manhood.

I was never a Boy Scout, but I will encourage Lion Boy to become involved when he is older. We need to support organizations that are willing to go out on a limb for what is right and honorable - especially in matters of the distinction between the sexes. The Boy Scouts are one of the few institutions that maintain traditional values and have not capitulated to the pressure of deviant groups laying a claim to normalcy.

I enjoyed giving my brief presentation, and some of the boys in the audience were actually students of Salem.

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