Reclaiming the Biblical Rainbow
Whether you’re browsing through a clothing aisle of Target or taking a walk through your neighborhood — especially during the month of June — it’s likely you’ll run into a symbol plastered on t-shirts or waving on flags: the rainbow. What do you immediately associate with the bold colors of red, orange, yellow, green, indigo, and violet? Most would likely say LGBTQ Pride. It is easily identifiable due to the infiltration of Pride merchandise in stores, schools, and neighborhoods.
Within the last 50 years, LGBTQ+ culture has adopted the symbol to represent sexual identity, and it has become a staple in the Pride movement. The materialized association we make between the God-ordained rainbow with a so-called “pride” for sexual identity has become normalized as the symbol is often paired with the image of a same-sex couple or phrases like “love is love.”
How did this association come about? Who decided on the counterfeit rainbow as the staple image to represent the LGBTQ community?
The answer lies in the late 1970s when San Francisco artist and drag performer Gilbert Baker was asked to create a symbol representing the gay community. The Department of Mental Health claims that, “Baker collaborated with his friend Lynn Segerblom” to “design” the rainbow flag. The only difference from their design and God’s was two more colors: hot pink and turquoise. Although these two colors have since been removed — and other renditions of the flag continue to occur regularly — the design made its debut at the Gay Freedom Day Parade in San Francisco in 1978.
According to History.com, “The most commonly used image for the burgeoning gay rights movement was the pink triangle,” a symbol that was pinned to people who identified as homosexual during World War II by Nazis. “Using a symbol with such a dark and painful past was never an option for Baker,” so instead he chose the rainbow as it was “meant to represent togetherness.” Each color maintained a significance: hot pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic and art, indigo for serenity, and violet for spirit.
Since his creation of the rainbow Pride flag, Gilbert has been recognized by political leaders and praised for the strides he made in the movement. In 2016, former President Barack Obama presented Baker with a hand-dyed rainbow flag. Baker spent the remainder of his life “push[ing] boundaries and gender norms,” until his death in 2017.
With June being the designated “Pride Month,” the LGBTQ community and supporters push the sale of as much rainbow gear as possible. In preparation for the month, conservative leaders have spoken up, calling people to take the rainbow symbol back.
“The rainbow is and always will be a sign of the covenant God made with his people,” wrote conservative author and influencer David Harris. “The woke mob may try to twist its meaning, but we won’t let their foolishness prevail. It’s time to reclaim the rainbow for His purpose!!”
Similarly, pro-life advocate and author Abby Johnson posted some “reminders” on her social media page, encouraging her followers to remember the rainbow’s true meaning.
“I will not stop enjoying rainbows just because man has decided to attempt to usurp it,” she wrote. “God defines marriage because He created it. We don’t get to argue with Him about it or throw a tantrum. He made marriage, He gets to set the terms. It’s between a man and a woman.”
Why are these conservative leaders calling for people to take the rainbow back? What is so significant about different wavelengths of light striking water droplets, resulting in seven colors forming an arch? Let’s go back to some of the earliest days of creation to answer this question.
In Genesis 6, we are told that as the human population grew, so did their wickedness. Humans were so corrupt, that “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5). It says the Lord regretted creating humans. Within just five chapters of creation’s origin story, God went from nodding in approval and calling his people good to feeling remorseful over his creation. When Adam and Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit, sin entered the world and with it came separation from God: an unbearable consequence that all people deserve.
From the beginning of time, fleshly desires took over the human race and people turned their back on God. So, God sent a great flood in order to “put an end to all people” (Genesis 6:13), except for one family, headed by a man named Noah, who “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). The fate of the human race fell to the obedience of this one man.
As the story that we learned in Sunday school goes, God ordered Noah to build an ark and spared him and his family from the flood. In Genesis 9:11, He establishes a promise, saying, “Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” To seal this promise, God explained the significance of the symbol of his covenant.
“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth” (Genesis 9:13-16).
From these few verses, we learn that in God’s mercy, he decided to give humanity a second chance to live in harmony with him, and he set a reminder in the sky.
If the original meaning of the rainbow was meant to represent God’s promise to never wipe out his people with a flood again, how come it is now associated with sexual orientation and gender fluidity? Doesn’t it seem ironic that a movement rooted in sexual anarchy — which stands in opposition to the Word of God — uses a biblical symbol to represent its anti-biblical ideology?
Baker designed a version of the rainbow as the LGBTQ symbol “because he saw flags as the most powerful symbol of pride.” As Christians, the rainbow represents something completely different and much more sacred: a symbol of hope. Hope of an everlasting life with a Just and Merciful Creator, despite our temporary and wretched state. As author of “God’s Covenant with the Earth” Peter Harris pointed out, “God’s covenant with Noah was a commitment to maintain the inherent relationship between Creator and creation.” Nothing can separate us from his love. There is room for forgiveness, and our nation must fight for a story of redemption.
As Family Research Council’s Senior Fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement Joseph Backholm put it, “It seems significant that the LGBT rainbow is a counterfeit of a real rainbow because everything about the sexual revolution is a counterfeit of good things God created. Satan has always been in the habit of taking good things and modifying them slightly so they have similarities to good things but are not good things.”
As we walk through the month of June, let us heed the instruction Peter wrote to God’s elect and remember to stand firm in our faith and convictions. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).