Rainbows & Fire

Let us not be mistaken about the rainbow symbol. Even a modern schoolchild, before whose eyes these flutter every day, can tell us: it is a symbol of inclusion, used especially to emphasize the beauty and worthiness of what ignorant and nasty people used to call sexual perversion. That, one must say, has now become the normal meaning of the rainbow: it is the universal emblem of sodomy and its world.

Believers insist on quite another meaning given the rainbow, the original, when God said to Noah:

“This is the covenant I shall make between me and you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I shall make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I set my bow in the cloud. . . .” (Gen. 9:11–12)

The rainbow is a symbol of God’s mercy and his promise never again to destroy all earthly life with a flood (or, one must suppose, anything which could reasonably be regarded as such). It is a promise not to visit upon sinning people their just deserts.

In our day it is being used by those who boldly advertise their sin coram Deo, publicly, proudly, and deliberately, and as such, it is a taunt cast into the face of God by displaying a promise he once made not to destroy those who deserve it in the similitude of the men of Sodom. Their spirits insolently claim a right to indulgence on the divine remembrance of past mercies and promises.

These, however, were given with respect to inundation of the earth and not conflagration, its elemental opposite and the sign of final judgment, ironically represented to the sodomite community especially in James Baldwin’s book title, The Fire Next Time, and against which believers make this prayer, set to profound music in Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem:

Libera me, Domine, de morte æterna, in die illa tremenda
Quando cœli movendi sunt et terra
Dum veneris iudicare sæculum per ignem.

Deliver me, O Lord, from death eternal on that fearful day
When the heavens and the earth shall be moved,
When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.

S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.

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