Chapter 10: The Church in Exile: Interpreting Where We Are

This is post eleven in a twelve-part series reviewing and critiquing Dan Boone's book, Human Sexuality. Read more: Intro / Chapter 1 / Chapter 2 / Chapter 3 / Chapter 4 / Chapter 5 /Chapter 6 / Chapter 7 / Chapter 8 / Chapter 9

This chapter compares American Christians to the Israelites in exile. This is foolish. As long as our banks are closed on Christmas but not on Rosh Hashanah or Eid, you can’t talk about our pluralist society as if Christians are not in a position of privilege and power. There is no “500 pound cultural gorilla beat[ing] the church into quiet submission” (132). There are people living their lives differently than white middle-class hetero evangelical Christians would have them live. This is not persecution. This is not oppression. This is not exile.

Say it with me: The Church in America is not oppressed.

Boone explains that “exile was a time when [the Israelites] remembered having had a Jewish king, Jewish army, Jewish laws, Jewish land, Jewish economy, Jewish religious structure,” etc. (133). That is, while they were oppressed, they longed for a time when they were powerful rulers.[1] Today in America, Christians are still powerful rulers. The United States has never had a non-Christian president. According to the Pew Research Center, 92% of the 2015 House and Senate are Christian.[2] In 2010 the Military Leadership Diversity Commission reported that about 78% of military personnel identify as Christian.[3]

One more time for those in the back: The Church in America is not oppressed.

Instead of fearing how the Church should react or challenge a culture that is opposed to us, continuing to construct an “us vs. them” narrative, we should be concerned about how we go about loving the people that make up this culture. I think that might be what Boone is trying to say, but when he talks about “warning” culture about the supposed consequences of their actions and “defending our religious liberties” (147), it sounds more like a defensive stance than an openly loving one.

[1] It’s worth noting that many scholars, following the archaeological work of Israel Finkelstein and others, don’t actually believe there ever was a powerful Jewish monarchy at all, but rather that these were stories written to encourage the Israelites in their faith.

[2] “Faith on the Hill,” Pew Research Center, January 5 2015.

[3] “Religious Diversity in the US Military,” Military Leadership Diversity Commission, June 2010.