As a symbol of gay and lesbian pride, the rainbow flag has been around a long time–actually since 1978. But your children may ask you about it more often as of late, since it is showing up in all sorts of places–and is rumored to be making appearances in children’s television shows and movies. So how should a Christian parent respond to the question: “What does that rainbow flag mean?” Well, a good way to start is by relating what the original creator of the flag believes the flag represents, and then remind them of what God’s Word says.
Gilbert Baker, the man who designed the flag for the 1978 San Francisco Gay Rights parade puts it this way: “The rainbow came to mind almost instantly as an obvious expression of diversity and acceptance. The rainbow is a part of nature and you have to be in the right place to see it. It’s beautiful, all of the colors, even the colors you can’t see. That really fit us as a people because we are all of the colors. Our sexuality is all of the colors. We are all the genders, races and ages.” So, the rainbow is a symbol of diversity (homosexuals are of all colors) and acceptance (all the colors must live together in harmony). Yet it is also symbolizes an attempt to depict homosexuality as a natural and even beautiful thing that should be more than just tolerated–it must be honored by all.
But is this what God’s Word says about the significance of the rainbow? Does it teach us to tolerate homosexuals? Well, after God delivered Noah and his family from the waters of the flood that destroyed all mankind, He alone attached a special meaning to the rainbow (Genesis 9:11-17):
11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”12 And 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: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 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. 16 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.” 17 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.”
The rainbow is supposed to bring to mind the grace of God for sinful mankind. It actually “reminds” God to not destroy all mankind with a flood, even though every generation deserves it. So far from being a sign of tolerance and acceptance for homosexuality, teach you children that the rainbow shows us the amazing grace of God. And that grace of God, coming in the person of Jesus Christ, calls ALL people of ALL sinful lifestyles to turn to God in faith and repentance.
So what about when your child asks you what’s happening with the Boy Scouts of America? Aren’t they just being tolerant and accepting of homosexuals who want to participate in scouting? Start by telling them the Boy Scout oath: “On my honor I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” While “Scout Law” doesn’t equate exactly to God’s Law, this organization has historically been about training young men to be moral and upright, which includes the duty to obey God. So if the current policy change of allowing openly homosexual boys into the group was in order to teach them that homosexuality was a sin against God’s moral law which needs to be repented of by the grace of God, then that would fit within their mission and vision. Yet this isn’t the goal of the recent decision. It’s really akin to the Boy Scouts of America saying: “We welcome all habitual liars, thieves, and murderers–but we won’t tell them that these are immoral actions that must be avoided.”
Building on these discussions, you will probably need to tackle questions about gay marriage as well. After all, shouldn’t people be able to marry anyone that they love? I’ll leave that one to you. When you bring children to ALL of God’s Word, they will learn God’s answer to that question–as well as what to think about rainbow flags and other false messages of tolerance and acceptance!