Allow me to start by saying, that this post is not intended to demonize Rod Dreher nor draw unnecessary attention to him. For those that don’t know, Rod Dreher is going through a difficult time in his life. Having grown up in the church, I know how the Christian wolf pack can devour its own. Not because I have experienced this myself in any meaningful way, but I have had nearly 20 years to watch Christian influencer after Christian influencer succumb to sin and be cast out. I’ve seen well intentioned Christians brought before congregations and told to confess atrocities that the church should have handled privately. In the case of celebrities, there is a different kind of groupthink; it’s like a modern form of leprosy. The moment sin is discovered in a man’s life, Christians abandon him. Typically, Christians do this to prove to the world and themselves that they do not tolerate sin within their own ranks; after all, “we must not give the appearance evil”. I hope that this doesn’t happen to Rod Dreher. It’s my desire that this little post will get a few readers thinking differently about how we treat our Christian brothers and sisters when we find them crushed beneath the mercy of God, the judgment of Christians, and the weight of their own sin.
During my seminary days, I had a conversation with a friend some of my readers know very well; For anonymity purposes, we will call him Guy. I traveled with Guy to several churches, retreat centers, and ministries around the country. We would eventually travel to the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) to discuss potential ministry opportunities. While on the road, we stopped for lunch. Somehow, we had gotten on the topic of hypocrisy in the church – I was doing my normal complaining about hypocrisy, in my own hypocritical way. Guy let me finish my rant, and then in a firm, somber, and authoritative voice told me story after story of infidelity among ministry leaders, some of them he knew personally. After he had finished, his hulking 6ft+ frame tensed up and he looked me directly in the eye and said, “I’m gonna tell you what a wise man told me once; no one is immune, Dan. No one. Understand?”
Now, consider the way the Christian world treats their favorite secular celebrities. For our purposes, there is one that seems suited for the comparison: Elon Musk. Now, I have no ill intent passing judgment on Elon’s marriage history. Both Elon and Rod are in need of the same thing: grace and mercy. They are both sinners, but unlike you or me, they are public figures and they are cursed with their personal lives being on display. Onward, towards the incredibly difficult line to walk of comparing two men’s sins, who are objectively more accomplished than yourself.
If you could make billions of dollars making S.3.X.Y. cars, building rockets, and have any woman you desire, it would be difficult to turn down. Men, don’t lie to yourselves and say “well it’s my Christian life that has called me in a different direction. God didn’t give me Musk’s abilities because he knew a life of fame and money would cause me to stumble.” I’m gonna call BS on that and say that 99% of us would aspire to Elon Musk’s success if we thought we could. Secondly, this touches on the idea that many Christians are trained to say, “I actually don’t want cars, rockets, money, and women because that’s not what Christians are supposed to want.” This is false as well. Part of the Christian life is resisting the world, the flesh, and the devil’s temptations; it doesn’t follow that you don’t want these things or that they are not appealing to the Christian’s fleshly eye. Yet, Christians continue to retweet Elon Musk (something I do as well) and cheer him on as he uses his money for the good of all people everywhere! Oh yeah, by the way, Elon wants to hook human brains up to Artificial Intelligence and has some pretty radical ideas about transhumanism. But that Rod Dreher…did you hear? He’s getting a divorce…
You can hear the Christian dogs salivating as the devil rings the bell informing the Christian world that he has successfully crippled another one of our Christian brothers. Slowly, Christians will have conversations where they could reference Rod Dreher’s work and his writings, but instead try and think of another book. They will, almost overnight, consciously stop recommending his books and writings to friends who would benefit in order to avoid the absurd implication of endorsing a man’s divorce by buying his book after the fact. As the world, the flesh, and the devil distract them with more “middle-class” sins — gossip, disowning, and judgment, of a Christian public figure, they will continue their Disney+ and Netflix subscriptions while simultaneously complaining about the “anti-traditional-family” content on these platforms: “I just can’t get enough of Marvel.”
The next morning, they will hear about how Elon Musk, who is also divorced (more than once), will be taking over Twitter, and they will shout for joy and retweet his name around the world, “Maybe the tide is finally turning! Well, you know, don’t send a Christian to do a sinner’s job. That’s why we need the Trump’s and Elon’s of the world.” But let’s hope those guys don’t get saved or come to a true knowledge of Christ, otherwise Christians will no longer be able to support them and their products or politics. After all, we wouldn’t want to give the appearance of evil.
So, rather than go any further, whether it’s Rod Dreher, Elon Musk, or a friend in your personal life, pray for those navigating the tumultuous waters of divorce. Regarding Dreher specifically, why don’t you go buy some of his books, or subscribe to his Substack? If possible, drop him a message telling him you’re praying for him, his wife, and kids. Then ask God to give you strength to stand firm, and remember that if it can happen to men like Rod Dreher or Elon Musk, it could happen to you. Let us remember the wise words of Guy, “No one is immune.” May God have mercy on us all, but especially the families of those who have been scarred by the sin of divorce.
Excellent discussion of a complex problem. It definitely represents matters of the heart.
Certainly does. I have been thinking a lot about how often the lesson of betrayal appears in scripture. From Job, to the Psalms, to Jesus, we see that betrayal by our own “tribe” is a consistent theme. One of the best representations of this in a modern story is A Hidden Life.
These are good words, thanks. But my problem with Dreher’s situation is that his marriage was obviously in trouble, and yet he spent months traveling around Europe visiting what he considered holy Christian sites and other places. Shouldn’t he have been at home trying to work things out, or at least helping his kids with their homework, mowing the lawn, etc? I don’t think he is a credible spokesman for ‘traditional family values’ now. I hope that is a nuanced enough opinion not to cross the line. Obviously I don’t know all the details so I may be totally off base, but the situation just seems weird.
Doesn’t seem like it was a wise move; maybe he will see it differently in the future. Regardless, we don’t know the whole story; Dreher has only divulged the conclusion. We shouldn’t make judgments from ignorance. Whether divorced or not, his books are definitely needed in the church. I hope that God continues to bless his work.
Wow, I get really bummed when I hear of anyone getting a divorce. For those who know Rod, support him all you are able for, indeed, no one is immune to falling into sin or just finding ourselves in a terrible place and not being real sure just exactly how we got into our current mess. However, not sure if my pride and ego aren’t just as bad as divorce in the eyes of our Lord and King.
I’ve read some articles written by him over the years; however, they were imperfect, ergo I disregarded every syllable. Unfortunately, it is quite clear that he and his wife were either ignorantly or blatantly disregarding the biblical adage, “spare the rod and spoil the child”, when they filed for divorce.