September 22, 2023

Reclaiming the Rainbow: Responding to LGBT Challenges with Grace & Truth

In this series of short essays, Dr. Ted Fenske offers a grace-filled prescription for how God’s people ought to respond to the cultural, ideological, religious, and medical challenges of the LGBT movement to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As a symbol representing “the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth” (Gen. 9:16), the rainbow is a magnificent one. The glowing prismatic display arching across the sky is breathtaking to behold, and particularly after a vicious storm. I recall one such spectacle when I was a child. Unaware we were in Tornado Alley, my family stopped to visit a fair in Bemidji, Minnesota. Our tilt-a-whirl ride was prematurely brought to an abrupt halt due to a flash downpour, forcing my siblings and I to take cover in our family camper. We watched, stunned, as the sky turned dark grey and then a surreal turquoise green, while the rain pelted loud on the tin roof and gale-force winds rocked our little trailer back and forth. Just as we feared we might all be blown over and away, the storm suddenly stopped, and the sun came out bright and warm. And with it, a stunning rainbow appeared set against the purple-black sky of the receding storm. It was as the 18th-century poet, Charles Lamb aptly expressed, “After the tempest in the sky/ how sweet yon rainbow to the eye!”[1]

Although secularized over the years to signify dreamy pot-o-gold optimism or new beginnings Somewhere over the Rainbow, it wasn’t until the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade celebration in 1978 that the rainbow symbol was co-opted by the non-heterosexual lobby group. In 1994, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Greenwich Village Stonewall riots of 1969, the rainbow flag was internationally established as the symbol for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) cultural movement. As the abbreviation has expanded to 2SLGBTQi (adding the 2S aboriginal two-spirited to the beginning of the older contraction, and Qi denoting queer and intersex at the end), so too, has the spread of the rainbow. These days, rainbow flags seem ubiquitous, flying not just at gay rallies, or during Pride summer, but all year round and in all places, including schools, public libraries, businesses, and even draped over the chancels of some liberalized churches. Reminiscent of National Socialism in Germany with the widespread parading of swastika flags in the public square (churches included), the Pride Flag invasion is nothing less than a foisting of an ideology diametrically opposed to the Creator of the universe and his covenantal promises. It’s a distorted rainbow revolution, pridefully boasting of what God condemns.

A Christian response to our culture’s embrace of all things LGBT is rife with challenges, both on the political front, as we attempt to winsomely defend biblical truth in the public sphere, and on the home front, as we walk alongside and attempt to provide gentle counsel to those struggling with their sexual identity in our personal circle. The LGBT movement has targeted Christianity and is intentionally and systematically deconstructing family, marriage, parenthood, and gender. It’s a daunting opposition to face, particularly since it demands not only passive tolerance, but complete and active acceptance and even celebration. And these demands aren’t merely idle threats. With the passing of the so-called Conversion Therapy Bill C-4,[2] there is in Canada a present risk of imprisonment for those who are deemed to have ‘offended.’ From faithful corporate preaching of the Word, to compassionate counsel, and even private family discussions, Bill C-4 is poised to criminalize Christian communication, including the Great Commission’s call to gospel witness. With this bill, LGBT activists have effectively silenced concerned opposition, and as a result, threaten to rescind our hard-won freedom of speech. The ambition of this series of essays is to discuss these challenges, and provide an approach to how we might effectively communicate our concerns to a growing anti-Christian culture. My hope is to provide the necessary equipping for the Christian community to not only meet this formidable challenge, but to recognize in the process opportunities for gospel witness and favor.

The LGBT movement represents the logical outworking of the me-focussed sexual revolution of the 1960s, and parallels the rise in demand for personal autonomy – to be a law unto ourselves and “be as God” (Gen 3:5). At its core, the movement is grounded on an anti-Christian worldview, steeped in pagan ideology, with roots in the fertility cults of antiquity. Like the tip of an iceberg, the immoral sexual behaviors promoted by LGBT activists represent the visible surface-level aspects of a much larger underlying worldview, which directly challenges the biblical sexual ethic. The celebration of non-heterosexual expression is in line with Plato’s Symposium, where the love of a man for a woman is considered the base and “lower form of love,” whereas the love of a man for a man a “heavenly and higher love.”[3] Such ideas have consequences, which permeate every aspect of culture, including the social, political, medical, psychological, moral, and spiritual landscape of our society. As explained by Dr. Peter Jones in his book Whose Rainbow? the decline in Christianity and rise in personal autonomy necessarily produces paganism. He comments, “Homosexuality is presented as part of a blossoming Western defence of civil and human rights and as an essential and beneficial building block of a progressive moral agenda… but it is not civil rights. It is the abandonment of theism in the last two generations of Western history, and the embrace of the spirituality of Eastern paganism.”[4]

Biblical Sexual Ethic

To better appreciate the stark contrast between the Christian sexual ethic and the LGBT movement, a head-to-head comparison is instructive. To think Christianly about sex we need to begin not with the contemporary sensibilities of our society, nor with what might seem reasonable to us and how we feel, but with the transcendent words of Holy Scripture, which represent the authoritative foundation for our understanding of sexuality and sexual behaviour. Three important points to keep in mind are the following:

First, the biblical sexual ethic mirrors God’s nature, including his creativity. God’s act of creation involved the separation of light from darkness, land from water, day from night, and woman from man. Our sexuality is grounded in God’s creational design of humankind’s binary reality, created in the image of God, “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). Jesus emphasized this sacred distinction when responding to his testing by the Pharisees on the matter of divorce, saying, “at the beginning the Creator made them male and female… for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh… therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matt 19:4-6). Right down to the DNA blueprint of every individual cell in our bodies (with very rare genetic-error exceptions), our sex chromosomes read either 46XY for male or 46XX for female.[5] There is no rational denial of this iron-clad fact. And this is for good reason, since only within this biological reality of man and woman can humankind reproduce. From a biological standpoint, sex is about babies. Fundamental to our sexuality is the central role of procreation – God’s invitation to us to participate in the mystery of creation. “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3), and we have been called to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). Infertility is the product of the Fall and an unfortunate exception that proves this rule.

Second, our sexuality reflects God’s covenantal love. God is personal in his relational Trinitarian reality, and our sexuality is to be personal as well, protected within the covenantal relationship of marriage between one man and one woman. While spouses don’t complete each other (since each is already complete in Christ), they are to, nonetheless, complement one another, and in so doing, reflect a fuller image of God than either can alone (Gen 2:18). Since God is triune – three in one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and created us for fellowship and intimate relationship, sex is intended to be not only an intimate physical act, but a covenantal spiritual union. As they “become one flesh” (Gen 2:24), husband and wife reflect the very mystery of the Trinity. While each spouse retains their individual sacred distinction, as they join together in marriage, they become one inseparable and holy functional unit, husband and wife. And when held fast by the power of the Holy Spirit, as King Solomon reflected, “a cord of three strands is not easily broken (Eccl. 4:12).

Third, our sexuality mirrors God’s sacrificial and sacred nature. Since we are created in his image, our sexuality and sexual behaviour have been designed as one way we can reflect his reality to the rest of creation. Sex within the marriage covenant is to be self-giving, and so functions as a central metaphor for Christ’s sacrificial love for the Church. As Apostle Paul exhorted, “as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands,” and likewise, husbands are to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Eph 5:24-5). As understood in biblical terms, sex is to be held sacred, and to represent nothing less than a God-ordained holy union. Christ redeemed our sexuality by placing it within the protection of monogamous heterosexual covenantal relationship. As a result, “Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Heb 13:4). The biblical boundaries around sexual expression are for our flourishing. These protections not only allow for the strengthening of the marriage bond, but they provide clarity about the nature of healthy relationships outside of marriage. Rather than being constricting, as Rebecca McLaughlin explains, God’s boundaries “give us great freedom to pursue nonsexual intimacy.”  Since sex is only to be experienced within the covenantal marriage relationship of man and wife, all other relationships are, by definition, nonsexual, and can be developed and celebrated on that level, same-sex relationships included. In summary, God blesses only two sexual lifestyles: heterosexual monogamy between one man and one woman within the confines of marriage, and chastity. Sexual behaviour outside of these two forms is not appropriate for the follower of Christ.

NEXT: The LGBT Narrative

[1] Charles Lamb, “The Rainbow,”, last modified 2023.

[2] “Bill C-4: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy),” Government of Canada, last modified December 8, 2021,

[3] Plato, The Symposium, trans. Christopher Gill (London: Penguin Classics, 2003).

[4] Peter Jones, Whose Rainbow? God’s Gift of Sexuality: A Divine Calling (Grimsby, ON: Ezra Press, 2020).

[5] The number/letter designation here refers to the 23 pairs of human chromosomes, which carry DNA, 46 in total, divided into 22 numbered autosomal pairs and one pair of sex chromosomes, X and Y; where one chromosome comes from each parent to make a pair.

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