This Christmas, let’s reclaim the Rainbow

In America, we’ve become accustomed to the idea that the rainbow is a symbol for “gay pride.”

In Europe and other places, however, the rainbow symbolizes peace. This Christmas, when we celebrate the peace that Christ brings to the world, let’s begin to take back the rainbow.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse has already started:

An activist fighting for traditional marriage in California is urging Christians to reclaim the rainbow from homosexual-rights activists who have hailed the symbol as their icon of “gay” pride.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of the San Diego-based Ruth Institute rightly argues that the rainbow is a sign of God’s covenant with man, and she says proponents of Proposition 8 — California’s measure that passed in 2008 to define marriage as between a man and a woman — are the original “rainbow coalition.” [Continue reading…]

As Dr. Morse points out, the rainbow in Christianity symbolizes the first covenant God made with man during the time of Noah. At Christ’s nativity, that covenant was fulfilled with the advent of the promised Messiah – Emmanuel – God with us.

I’ve spent a good deal of time and energy this year responding to the threats posed by the homosexual movement because this movement is attempting to systematically reshape and fundamentally alter the Christian message (see, for instance, Anthony Stevens-Arroyo, “May your Christmas be Catholic and gay“).

In fact I believe it’s doing something worse: the “gay pride” movement is selling Christ short. It says there is an aspect of humanity that we don’t want Christ to heal and redeem. It says that Christ is welcome to come and save us, but only on our terms.

But that’s not the way it works. In fact, all of human history before and after the Incarnation demonstrates that humanity isn’t capable of saving itself without His grace, and can’t find a way to perfect happiness without following the path He makes for us.

I like that the rainbow, in most of the world, is still the symbol of peace. God became man to give the world His peace. Peace understood not simply as an absence-of-conflict, but as a fullness-of-presence: peace means that all is right between man and his fellow man, and between mankind and our Creator.

Because this is what peace really is, I hope you can see why I think having the rainbow only symbolize “gay pride” sells us all short.

So next year, and in this season of praying for peace, let’s begin to take back the rainbow.



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  • Jennifer Roback Morse

    I don’t really think it is so daunting to Reclaim the Rainbow. All we have to do is to use the symbol in our way, and let the chips fall where they may. I was frankly surprised to see how upset the gay blogosphere got over the obvious statement that the rainbow has been associated with Noah and God’s promise at the end of the flood, for alot longer than the gay pride movement has even existed. This indicates that they are not all that willing to “share” the symbol, as some of the comments might suggest.

    • greg smith

      Jeniffer: When the Prsident spoke at Notre Dame George Wiegel got excited and prounced that the eyes of the world are on South Bend this week. Some other pundant pointed out that was true, only if you defined the whole world as the Catholic Blogesphere. Like the Catholic blogesphere, the gay blogesphere represents a very small and self selected group which may or may not reflect the thinking and prorites of others. I woulden’t get too upset about them being upset.


    Thomas: I learn a lot for this blog and your father’s, but I have to say, in all Christian brotherhood, that joining this initiative is misguided. The rainbow is certainly a universal symbol of hope and I happen to believe God sent me one as a signal in my darkest days that “things will get better.” I don’t understand where the folks you quote get the idea it is specifically a Christian symbol. It would have been appropriate for one to appear over Bethlehem at Jesus’ birth, but none of the gospels tell of this. The gays adopted the rainbow, I believe, to emphasize that homosexual people come from every race, religion country etc. etc. However, there is nothing to” reclaim.” No one to my recollection, has claimed the rainbow to be proprietary to the gays. The Masons still have the Rainbow Girls and the 42nd Infantry (Rainbow) Division has one incorporated into their patch. Thomas, the reality is that gays, and straights perceived as gays, sometimes face unjust discrimination as described in CCC 2358 and treatment beyond discrimination including physical attack and murder. Without taking one word away from the teachings of the Church on sexual morality, I believe we Catholics ought not to be in the “culture war” business. All it does is estrange gay Catholics from the church and prevents non-Catholic gays and their family and friends from seeing the blessedness and pure goodness of Roman Catholicism. Tonight or tomorrow we will all attend a very special mass. Sitting among us will be our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. Some will be active in LGBT causes. We are not at war with them and they are not the enemy. The birthday of the prince of peace is a time to love our neighbors, not work out new tactics in a “war” with 10% of them.

  • MarB

    The rainbow may have been associated with peace in the past in Europe, but unfortunately now the rainbow is synonymous with gay pride WORLDWIDE.

    I agree it would be great if we could “take back the rainbow” but the task is daunting. The militant gay pride movement has very successfully co-opted the rainbow. They use it on flags, banners, jewelry, clothing…it never ends. Heck, even places like St. Francis Xavier in NYC use a “rainbow cross” image to symbolize their “Gay Catholic” and “Catholic Lesbian” groups.

    Sad but true.

  • marv!!!

    When I see a rainbow, I don’t think about gay pride but rather about all the beauty that surrounds us and is inside of us.
    It reminds me that God is not colored blind. Rather, He and or She cherishes all colors.

  • Jeremy

    Please, Thomas, let’s not get into petty disputes like this. No single group “owns” the rainbow; it’s not something anyone needs to take back from anyone. Do we really want to start a tug-of-war over a symbol? If we disagree, we should argue about the substance of the issue, not the symbols used (and this isn’t directed only at your. I think the “rainbow thumpers,” as I sometimes call them, need to hear this too. We shouldn’t let the moral question get bogged down in senseless bickering.)
    Thomas, I’m having a really hard time understanding your objection to Stevens-Arroyo’s column. How is it a “threat posed by the homosexual movement…to systematically reshape and fundamentally alter the Christian message.” Look at the substance of his message: it’s Christmas. Don’t ruin it by starting something with your gay relative. That person is family, so just love and embrace him or her. How is that contrary to the Christian message? Are you saying that we should neither love nor respect gay people? Are you saying that we should reject them and turn them away from the table? I’m sure you don’t believe that, Thomas, but what you’re saying sounds an awful lot like that.
    So here’s what I propose: stop trying to “reclaim” the rainbow because it doesn’t need to be reclaimed. There’s no reason why it can’t have multiple meanings. By all means, take up the rainbow in the name of peace, and then work to promote peace by not painting people like Stevens-Arroyo as malicious agents bent on subverting society’s values. I, too, believe in the rainbow as a symbol of peace. Of course, you know me, as I’m no stranger to your blog: I’ll hold up the rainbow as a symbol of gayness AND peace. But I think that I value peace just as much as you do. There’s something really important we can both agree on, right?

    • Sue in soCal

      Jeremy, I would embrace a family member – and have done so many times – at Christmas or anytime but I would also have had the conversation pointing out that I do not accept their lifestyle. This includes not only practicing homosexual behavior but also sex outside of marriage (one man and one woman), dressing, acting, or any participation in immodesty, drunkeness or drug use, and indifference to our fellow man. I have had many relatives drop me like a hot potato but I have done my part to point out that they are on the wrong path. We are all called to be more. Ultimately, what I have done is true love for them and sometimes love has to be tough.

    • Cathy

      You can love and embrace the person and still reject their behavior. Thomas is not talking about shunning anyone. He’s talking about shunning a MOVEMENT that claims the gay lifestyle, being homosexually active, is a good thing. Christ spent most of his ministry with the greatest of sinners in society but he had no qualms about pointing out their sins and challenging them to repent. He also told his Apostles to shake the dust from their sandals and leave the towns who didn’t embrace His lifesaving message. Jesus didn’t say, “oh, well if they don’t like what you’re saying, that’s okay, they’re still good people.” No way!

      If you were to approach a gay relative in a loving, respectful way about the destructiveness of their homosexual behavior at an appropriate time (respectful of their humanity, that they are a child of God and a sinner just like us) and they choose to shun your love because they feel they are not being “respected” because you do not accept their decision to act upon their homosexual tendencies, who then is the rejector and who is the peacemaker? We all have a responsibility as Christians to reach out to those who do not know Jesus and His teachings, and especially those who have fallen away from the faith. This isn’t a political or cultural movement, God Himself condemned homosexual BEHAVIOR, not actual persons who simply might have the tendency but choose not to act upon it out of reverence and humility toward God and humankind. We all have our crosses to bear but it doesn’t mean we should just give into desires simply because we have them. There are homosexually oriented men and women who are courageously embracing a chaste, single lifestyle by turning toward the light of Christ through prayer, support groups and reception of the Sacraments. We all must renounce our human failings and sinful nature and surrender ourselves to Jesus through his holy Mother, Mary. We cannot overcome our sinfuless, without the grace of God.

      Many Blessings of the holy Christmas season to you all!

    • NameVermont Crank *

      “Are you saying that we should neither love nor respect gay people?”++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      I do not respect those who rob Liquor Stores; I do not respect those who are drug or alcohol addicts; I do not respect those who are divorced and remarried; I do not respect those who engage in fraud so as to get a Diagnosis that will qualify them for SSDI; I do not respect Employers who do not pay a family wage to migrant workers; I do not respect children who do not care for their widowed Mothers but who ship them off to woeful public facilities but I am supposed to respect those who participate in sexual perversion?++++++++++++++++++++++

      To do that is to elevate a despicable vice to respectability which can only endanger the immortal souls of those trapped in the Satanic Chains of Lust. ++++++++++++

      Instead of establishing a false peace with the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, let us make a reconnection with the timeless wisdom of Catholic Saints++++++++++++++++++

      St. John Chrysostom said: ++++++++++++++++++

      “All passions are dishonorable, for the soul is even more damaged and degraded by sin than the body is by disease. But the worst of all passions is lust between men…The sins against nature are more problematic and less satisfying, so much so that one cannot even say that they procure pleasure, since true pleasure is only that which is according to nature. But when God abandons a man, everything is turned on its head! Therefore, not only are such passions (of homosexuals) satanic, but their lives are diabolic…So I say to you that they (the homosexuals) are even worse than murderers, and that it would be better to die than to live in such dishonor. A murderer only separates the soul from the body, whereas these (homosexuals) destroy the soul inside the body…There is nothing, absolutely nothing more absurd or damaging than this perversity” ++++++++++++

      St. Bernadine of Siena adds: “One who lived practicing the vice of sodomy will suffer more pain in Hell than anyone else, because this is the worst sin that there is”

      • Jeremy

        I’m not even sure that a full response to a comment like yours is possible, so I’ll keep this brief. 1)Robbing stores, being addicted to drugs, and cheating welfare systems are absolutely nothing like being gay. Lots of false analogies there. 2)Murder is less immoral than being gay, is it? I don’t think the Church would agree with you there. 3)The long lines of plus signs make your posts a little hard to read. You may want to consider removing them.

        • Vermont Crank

          “Robbing stores, being addicted to drugs, and cheating welfare systems are absolutely nothing like being gay. Lots of false analogies there.” ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

          They are all similar in that they are actions that transgress the Objective Universal Code of Morality (OUCM)++++++++++++ There is no rational reason for homosexuals, or those who succor them, to claim a privileged position vis a vis the OUCM; a privileged position that exempts themselves from the OUCM while insisting it apply to all others.++++++++++++++++++++++Were I to punch-out a homosexual on what basis could you object to that action other than to insist that action is wrong; but, in doing so you would be appealing to the same OUCM that has always taught, and continues to teach, that homosexual sex is a serious sin.++++++++++++++++++++ If homosexuals, and those who succor them, are at liberty to exempt themselves from the OUCM, they they have abandoned any rational ability to insist that others adhere to it if,say, for instance, the Liquor Store Robber insists that is just the way he earns a living++++++++++++++++

          Those are Crosses and I use to them to indicate where a paragraph ends.

          • Jeremy

            The problem with that understanding of the OUCM is that it implies – strongly implies, the way you seem to understand it – total moral equivalency. Things are either right or wrong; there are no shades of gray. Does that make sense? Can you really say that no actions are “worse” than others? Aren’t some evils greater than others? This isn’t about rejecting an objective code of morality, it’s about having a different understanding about what that objective code is. Truth-with-a-capital-T may exist, but knowing what it is beyond a shadow of a doubt is the hard part.

          • Vermont Crank

            Dear Jeremy. All sins are acts opposed to the Will of God and,of course, some sins are worse than others which is why Holy Mother Church distinguishes twixt Venial and Mortal Sin but if you think that some homosexual sex is justified in some circumstances then just come out and say that.

          • Jeremy

            I will come out and say that; I never intended my belief on the matter to be a mystery. Homosexual sex is justifiable exactly the way heterosexual sex is justifiable. I see no morally relevant difference between the two. The rules of sexual morality apply equally here.

          • Stranger

            100% agreeing with you there Jeremy.

            In this world, you have children can only distinguish right from wrong only when they are told the difference, and we have adults who can distinguish right from wrong themselves.



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