If you’ve had your eyes open in recent weeks you’ve likely seen a lot of rainbows.
When Ireland voted to legalize same-sex marriage, rainbows broke out all over the country, even in the sky. A few weeks later, when the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States, rainbows took over the internet, streets, and national landmarks, including the White House.
Since we are all seeing the colorful symbol, I think it is fair to ask—what do you think about when you see the rainbow?
Many “conservatives” would say it is a badge of bold defiance from traditional values.
Many “progressives” would wave the rainbow as a symbol of social advancement.
Others see it as an emblem of equality.
One person even assumed divine affirmation when they tweeted “There’s a big gay rainbow over Dublin, if that’s not Jesus giving the Yes vote I don’t know what is!”
That comment stirred me to consider, what does God think about all this rainbow flag flying? I mean, God loves rainbows, doesn’t He?
Why Does God Fly a Rainbow in the Sky?
Long before the colorful stripes were trendy, God created the rainbow to be reminder of a very important message to humanity. Let me give you the quick backstory.
In the book of Genesis, we learn about a time in history past where “man’s wickedness on the earth had become so great…that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5). God had created the world to be a place of peace where love abounded between people and their Maker.
But instead of loving God and loving others, people hated each other and hated God’s rule over them. Because of this, “the Lord was grieved…and His heart was filled with pain…” so He decided to bring judgment and “wipe mankind…from the face of the earth…” (Genesis 6:6-7).
God judged the entire world with a flood of water, but in the midst of it, He extended mercy to one man and his family. After the water subsided, the Lord made a promise to Noah that He would never flood the world with water again.
And then, God hung a rainbow in the sky. But, why a rainbow?
He told Noah, “I have set my bow in the cloud” (Genesis 9:13). The word “bow” is the same word for the instrument of war that an archer used to shoot down their enemy. When God set the rainbow in the sky He was saying to the world, “I am putting down my weapon of war against you.”
This wasn’t because humanity all of a sudden would not offend God and deserve judgment. Instead, God promised to extend mercy to people, despite the fact that we all deserve judgment for the many ways we have turned away from Him. This means that God flies the rainbow in the sky as a message to each of us: today is another day of mercy from Me, to you.
What Should the Rainbow Lead Us To Do?
While it is true that God has given today as another day of mercy, it is also true that God’s mercy is aimed at producing something very specific in us. The book of Romans 2:4 explains it like this, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”
God gives today as a day of mercy so that we will turn away from our sin and turn to Him. 1 Timothy 2:4 tells us that God does this because He “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
You see, as God once judged the entire world through a flood of water, we are promised that God will one day judge the world through a flood of fire (2 Peter 3:3-10). While the idea of judgment is offensive to the natural ear, it is actually one of the most hopeful promises God gives to us.
Can you imagine a world where God did not bring judgment on child molesters and rapists and religious con artists who steal from elderly widows? What a hopeless world this would be if God were not good enough to punish evil! But God doesn’t just deal with evil that offends us, He deals with all sin, because all sin is ultimately against Him.
But in spite of our sin against Him, God came into our world to rescue us. Jesus became human, lived a life of perfect love and then showed that love by dying on the cross in the place of people like you an me (Romans 5:8). He received the judgment that prostitutes and pastors and straights and gays all deserved. Then, three days later Jesus rose from the dead to extend forgiveness to all who will believe in Him.
The rainbow God flies in the sky is a reminder of mercy that He extends to all who will turn to Him through faith in His Son Jesus. If you are reading this, today is a day of mercy from God intended to move you to look to Him for forgiveness.
What Does God Want Us To Think When We See the LBGT Rainbow?
If you are among those who believe that God sees the LBGT lifestyle as sinful, I agree with you. But we need to be careful when we see the rainbow because we can forget that the bow in the sky is just as much about our sin as any one else’s.
Jesus died to pay the debt of self-righteous religious hypocrites who look down on others just as much as any other sort of sinner. Anger and disgust over sin is an appropriate response, but make sure you are most angry and disgusted with your own sin. When you see the rainbow, ensure that you are humbly repenting of your sin. This will give you the grace and humility you will need to speak truth to others in love (Matthew 7:1-5).
For those who believe homosexuality is a normal and good lifestyle, I encourage you to see the rainbow as a reminder of God’s mercy that is meant to lead you to repentance. As one former lesbian rightly said, “I was not converted out of homosexuality. I was converted out of unbelief.” The biggest sin all people, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is their unbelief in the true God of the Bible.
Jesus calls us, regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity, to come to Him and be born again. Not to become a religious conservative, but to become a child of God whose identity is rooted in Christ (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
I would also like you to consider whether the Bible could be right when it says that homosexuality is a sin against God. I know for some, this seems utterly unthinkable. But there have been sins in my life that I did not realize until I was corrected by God’s Word.
The reason this is so important is because if homosexuality is a sin, then proudly flying the rainbow flag is actually a mockery of the mercy He is showing us all in these days before the final judgment. So those rainbows over Dublin were not actually Jesus affirming with an “Amen” but rather He was reminding us of His scandalous mercy in the face of our sin.
So when you see a rainbow in the sky, or a rainbow flag flying in the air, remember that it is a call to repent of your sin and receive the forgiveness God offers you in His Son. Jesus is who the rainbow points to, the One who is the fulfillment of God’s promise for mercy for sinners like us.