What Does the Rainbow Mean for Gays?

What do you think of when you see the rainbow flag?

Most likely, you think of homosexuality or the wider LGBT movement. Gilbert Baker, the man credited with pioneering the celebratory rainbow flag flying over the gay movement, recently lauded his craft, noting that it’s something beautiful. He answers those who think it’s not, saying, “The rainbow’s in the Bible. It’s a covenant between God and all living creatures.” According to Baker, the God of the Bible knows the struggle of gays and lesbians, and that is where he finds hope.

God does indeed know the internal and social battles of gays and lesbians, but the question is, Does he approve of their practice? Would God approve of their use of the rainbow to symbolize this movement?

The Supreme Court’s decision on gay “marriage” has made the rainbow symbol ubiquitous. Those who celebrate so-called same-sex marriage are painting social media with rainbow colors. Even the White House was lit up the with red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.

God designed the rainbow to symbolize something far greater and far more glorious than homosexuality, and if those in the homosexual community truly understood and embraced the symbol they are waving in their hands, they would experience true freedom and peace.

What the Bible Says About Rainbows

Throughout Scripture, the rainbow symbolizes God’s glory — the radiance of his beauty, holiness, and perfection.

Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face. (Ezekiel 1:28)

And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. (Revelation 4:3)

Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. (Revelation 10:1)

None of us have beheld God’s glory with our eyes. The rainbow gives us a picture of the beauty believers will will see when God comes again to live on the earth and to fill it with his glory (Habakkuk 2:14). In that day the lofty pride of all men, including gay pride, will be brought low, and the Lord alone will be gloriously exalted.

In Scripture, the rainbow also displays God’s grace towards all humanity. When God enters into covenant with Noah, after destroying the sinful world with the flood, he vows that he will never again destroy the world in that way.

God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:12–17)

To this day, the rainbow symbolizes that promise. According to Genesis 9, as long as the rainbow hangs in the sky, God will mercifully and graciously restrain his anger towards humanity.

What the Rainbow Says — To Everyone

God is patient. The fact that he has refrained from sending another flood to destroy the world does not mean that he accepts homosexual practices, or any other kind of sin. God’s covenant with creatures and the rainbow in our sky do not mean that sinners have nothing to fear. Rather, this kind of mercy shows us that God is patiently waiting for all, including homosexuals, to believe. God’s gracious display of patience is meant to lead to repentance from sin (Romans 2:4), not celebration of sin.

Let us not be deceived. If God put a rainbow in the sky to symbolize the constraint of his anger, then he is still angry, and justly so because men are still sinners, as they were before the flood. One day, his anger will be restrained no more. The sky with its rainbows will be rolled up as a scroll, and our King Jesus will come from heaven in vengeance to defeat all of his enemies. And who are Christ’s enemies but those who oppose the gospel and live lawless lives, scorning their Maker?

Let us, therefore, pray that the rainbow would point the LGBT community to God’s grace, glory, and patience, and that God would bring them to repentance. Let us pray that those in the homosexual community would look past the rainbow to the final solution for God’s anger towards sin. Christ’s atoning death on the cross appeases God’s anger forever, so that everyone who believes in Jesus is holy and blameless in God’s sight.

The next time you see a rainbow flag, think of this. One day soon, God’s glory, now seen dimly in the rainbow, will be fully revealed and draw everyone to worship. God’s glory will fill the earth. The glory of the LGBT movement will soon fade, but God’s glory and love toward those forgiven by faith in Jesus will last forever.

is assistant professor of Bible and theology, and coordinator of the Cameroon Extension Site for Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Dominique, live in Yaoundé, Cameroon, with their two children.