I have been asked this question numerous times: “Why does the LDS church support Scouting when they have the Duty to God program?” I always ask a follow-up question with “What do you know about the Duty to God program?” I will usually get a dumbfounded look or an unsure answer. This just shows that people don’t know the programs for the Aaronic Priesthood.
People will always associate scouting with camping, hiking, merit badges and rank advancements. That is what we “do”. What people need to start asking is “why we do it”. You can’t have Scouting without doing your “duty to God”. In fact Baden-Powell, the founder of the scouting, said, “There is no religious side of the scouting movement. The whole of it is based on religion; that is, on the realization and service of God.” It wasn’t by accident or coincidence that six years after the scouting movement was formed and three years after the Boy Scouts of America was founded, the Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith received revelation to adopt Scouting as the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood. President Thomas S. Monson as repeatedly said, “If there has ever been a time where the principles of scouting are needed, that time is now.”
How does it all tie in together?
Before we make connections of all three programs, we must know each ones purpose. In handbook #2 of the Church Handbook of Instruction we read:
“Young men are in a time of preparation and personal spiritual growth. Accordingly, parents and the bishopric and other Aaronic Priesthood holders help each young man to:
Be converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and live by its teachings.
Serve faithfully in priesthood callings and fulfill the responsibilities of priesthood offices.
Give meaningful service.
Prepare and live worthily to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and temple ordinances.
Prepare to serve an honorable full-time mission.
Obtain as much education as possible.
Prepare to become a worthy husband and father
Give proper respect to women, girls and children.
This is what I call the Aaronic Priesthood’s mission Statement. The Boy Scouts of America has one as well:
BSA Mission Statement
The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people
to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in
them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
DTG-comingsoon-coverart_03The purpose of Duty to God is as follows:
The Duty to God program is a tool to help Aaronic Priesthood holders:
Strengthen their testimony and their relationship with Heavenly Father
Learn about and fulfill their Priesthood duties
Apply the standards from For the Strength of Youth
All three programs have both a physical and spiritual elements to them. Some have more of one than the others. It is the overall goal for the young man to be: