A lot is being made today of rainbows.
It seems that everywhere you look, people are either parading around waving rainbow flags or having rainbow crosswalks painted in their cities and towns. Even the White House was recently illuminated in rainbow-colored lights.
The reason for these antics should be obvious to anyone who hasn’t been living the past two weeks in a comatose state.
In observing the euphoria being exhibited by those who are celebrating the legalization in America of same-sex marriage, it would be wise to consider the true origin, significance and symbolism of the rainbow.
The operative word there is again.
The reason I emphasize this adverb (“again”), is because the God who thousands of years ago destroyed every living thing on the earth is the same God whom today we have largely ignored.
Lest we forget, the rainbow, as beautiful and captivating as it is in all its majesty and splendor, was not borne out of God’s affirmation of or His acquiescence to our behavioral construct, but from His unambiguous condemnation of it.
In other words, something as wonderful and awe-inspiring as a rainbow has its origins in something very dark and alarming: sin.
Nevertheless, there are those today who would invert and transpose the biblical symbolism of the rainbow into something more representative of the very behavior which served as impetus for God having established it in the first place (Genesis 6:5-7).
The rainbow exists for one purpose: to symbolize God’s everlasting covenant between Himself and mankind that His righteous anger, as expressed through an all-consuming flood many years ago, would never be demonstrated in the same manner as in the days of Noah. This is not to say, however, that mankind will never again experience God’s destructive wrath because it is coming.
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” – 2 Peter 3:10 (NASB)
And though eschatology is not necessarily the subject I wish to deal with in this particular article, there is a sense in which it does fit within the broader context of a subject I do wish to address.
Even prior to the recent Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges which legalized same-sex marriage in our nation, many so-called “Christian” churches, organizations and ministries had already determined to embrace this inversion of the rainbow by LGBT advocates, all under the guise that God is a God of love, inclusiveness and acceptance. But the view that the God of the Bible is solely a God of love is not exclusive to those who identify as “gay” and “Christian”.
The misconception that God’s “unconditional love” somehow circumvents or renders impotent His other immutable attributes, particularly His holiness, is held by countless millions of heterosexual Christians as well which, in my mind, begs the question: how is it that we are so easily convinced that God will forgive our sins, yet so dogmatic in our belief that He will not punish them? How can you trust what the Bible says about God in one respect but not in another?
The reason is quite simple: we are merely theists who fancy ourselves as theologians.
What this misapplication of the symbolism of the rainbow is demonstrating is that it is much easier for us to believe in God (theist) than it is to believe God (theologian).
To be a theist, that is, to believe “in” a God while not believing God, leaves room for us to cherry-pick and apply our own subjective construct of who “God” is and, consequently, develop our own subjective theology about Him (or Her, such as the case may be). To be a theologian, however, is to accept on faith what the Bible objectively says about God and to endeavor to know Him more deeply based on what His Word has already declared to us about Himself.
“Although contemporary culture belittles the problem of sin and makes light of its devastating effects, the Bible underscores the plight of the lost and the need for the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to save us from our sin. Sin is a corrupting presence in each human being. We are infected and enslaved by sin. Contemporary understandings of human nature must take into account humanity’s fallenness and the inherited corruption that issue in sinfulness.” – R. Stanton Norman, “Human Sinfulness”, in A Theology for the Church, Daniel Akin, Editor, pp. 474-475
It is only the theistic mind that could take a symbol God created for His own glory and attempts to distort it in such a way as to be symbolic of God’s acceptance and affirmation of a behavior He utterly detests. The theologian, on the other hand, acknowledges the symbolism of the rainbow for that which God Himself has pronounced it to be.
God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.” – Genesis 9:12-15 (NASB)
These two contrasting paradigms (belief in God vs. believing God) are what University of Loyola-Chicago philosopher, Paul Moser, describes as “thin theism” (the belief that it is epistemologically rational, at least for some people, to believe that God exists) and “robust theism” (that a deep, filial knowledge of God is what He requires of us):
“The chief human deficiency regarding God is not in our explanatory or intellectual abilities but is rather in our moral orientation regarding authority, or lordship, over our lives. So, desiring genuine reconciliation, the true God would not settle for thin theism but would promote cognitively robust theism, the view that we epistemically should lovingly believe in, or trust, God as the Lord of our lives.” – Paul Moser, “Cognitive Idolatry and Divine Hiding”, in Divine Hiddenness: New Essays, Daniel Howard Snyder and Paul K. Moser, pp. 125-126
You see, the reason we waive rainbow flags and paint rainbow crosswalks and illuminate iconic buildings with rainbow-colored lights, is because we are essentially theists who believe in God but who do not truly believe God.
In contemplating this unfortunate reality, one cannot help but consider why proponents of the LGBT lifestyle would choose the rainbow as the symbol of what they stand for to begin with.
I mean, think about it.
Given its Theo-centric origin, no symbol could be more antithetical to the LGBT agenda than that of a rainbow. The only explanation I can come up with for such profound misbranding is pride which, irony of ironies, is something those who promote the LGBT culture take such, well, pride in advertising (e.g. “Gay Pride” this and “Lesbian Pride” that).
But theirs is not the kind of pride in which one should boast, for although God’s love indeed does extend to every person, contrary to what many believe, it is not an open-ended love that is without boundaries or consequences when we choose to violate them.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” – John 3:16-20 (NASB)
“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not believe the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” – John 3:6 (NASB)
Thin theism is dangerous because it fails to take into account the immutability of God.
God does not change.
He does not change because He cannot change.
God is equally holy as He is loving, though His holiness is not an attribute that is often emphasized today. (I wonder why?)
The rainbow is very important to God. Like marriage itself, it is God who created it and who gives it meaning and significance. To distort its symbolism is a direct affront to God, whose righteousness is not nullified by His love of those who do so.
The theologian understands this.
The theist does not.
Think about it.
Humbly in Christ,
“God’s grace is not infinite. God is infinite, and God is gracious. We experience the grace of an infinite God, but grace is not infinite. God sets limits to His patience and forbearance. He warns us over and over again that someday the ax will fall and His judgment will be poured out.” – Dr. R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God
The Holiness of God (Teaching Series) by Dr. R.C. Sproul