Rod Dreher, gays, and climate change

shallow focus photo of green leafed tree in front of men
Their love is probably killing that tree. Photo by Chrysostomos Galathris on

The good news? Rod Dreher believes in climate change. It’s good to see a conservative take the topic seriously.

The bad news? It’s a doozy.

I believe that global warming is real, and that it is man-made. I believe that it is divine judgment for our technocratic hubris. I believe that there is a direct connection — not causal, but still a connection — between the exploitation of the natural world that is causing the earth to revolt, and the destruction of the concept of the natural family, of sex, and even of the human person. We were tasked with stewardship of the natural order, and now we are being collectively punished for our transgressions of it — for trying to impose our will on it beyond all limits.

If that’s not perfectly clear, Dreher’s hinting that the same forces that give us freedom for gay and trans people are the same forces that cause climate change.

I assume this is because queer people are made of burning coal.

Dreher updated his blog to deny that he was making the connection he made: ” I am not saying that the collapse of sexual and familial norms are causing climate change.” But he was, kinda.

He might’ve been more on the ball if he’d taken a closer look in his own corner, at conservative Christianity. While many folks embrace a theological imperative to stewardship, lots of conservative Christians have turned to justifications to ignore humanity’s role in causing climate change.

Some of this is lazy, wishful thinking: As Lisa Vox wrote last year, “Confidence that God will intervene to prevent people from destroying the world is one of the strongest barriers to gaining conservative evangelical support for environmental pacts like the Paris agreement.”

“As a Christian, I believe that there is a creator in God who is much bigger than us,” Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) told constituents last week at a town hall in Coldwater, Mich. “And I’m confident that, if there’s a real problem, he can take care of it.”

This is “thoughts and prayers” logic on a world-historical level.

There are also those folks — I grew up among many of them — who believe that environmentalism is a form of idolatry.

And finally there are folks who believe that God has given humans “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth,” and who see that dominion as power to be exercised instead a responsibility to be faithfully attended.

Add all these strands up, and you find that “the likelihood that a Christian survey respondent expressed a great deal of concern about climate change dropped by about a third between 1990 and 2015.”

I’m going to go ahead and suggest these attitudes have more to do with the crisis we humans and other living things face than anything your gay neighbors might be doing. I don’t think Dreher shares those attitudes — he wrote a book called “Crunchy Cons” once, back when he was more fun and less shrill — but still: The people who do share those attitudes are more part of his community. If he’s really concerned about climate change, he might obsess about gays less and start looking around at his fellow parishioners more.


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