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Reclaiming the Rainbow: A Gospel Invitation on IDAHOBIT Day and Beyond 

As the world celebrates the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) and gears up for another “Pride” month, Christians once again find themselves at a cultural crossroads. In a society that increasingly affirms LGBTQ+ identities and relationships as not just normal, but to be celebrated, how do we remain faithful to the unchanging truth of God’s Word while still extending the radical, redemptive love of Christ? 

“Love is love”?  

In her thought-provoking book “The Secular Creed,” Rebecca McLaughlin identifies the claim that “love is love” as one of the quasi-religious dogmas of our age. This pithy slogan, while sounding innocuous and even noble, actually smuggles in a profoundly unbiblical view of sexuality and relationships – one that reduces love to mere romantic sentiment and severs it from God’s created design. 

As Christians, we know that true love is so much more. It’s not a matter of affirming a person’s every breeze-blown desire or behaviour, but a fierce, sacrificial commitment to their ultimate good, even when that means speaking hard truths. It’s the kind of love that led Jesus to the cross, bearing the full weight of our sin and shame – yours and mine, that we might be reconciled to God and restored to our true identity as His beloved children. 

This is the message that the world desperately needs to hear on IDAHOBIT Day and every day – the message I recently noticed emblazoned over the portico of a local Hobart charity helping the homeless in Tasmania, cast in timeless stone relief more than a century ago: “Christ Jesus receiveth sinners.” In a culture that celebrates pride, autonomy, and self-determination, this simple phrase strikes a deeply countercultural note. It reminds us that we are all sinners in need of a Saviour, that our only hope lies in the redeeming grace of God. When I caught a glimpse of it afresh the other day, my heart lifted at its audacious simplicity, earnest forthrightness, and timeless relevance. How many modern charities and brand think tanks in their scrambling to appease cultural sensitivities would dare venture such a scandalous tagline today? 

The Scandalous Welcome of Christ  

The gospel narratives are replete with stories of Jesus scandalising the religious elite by the company He kept. Tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, and Samaritans – the outcasts and moral pariahs of society – all found a welcome at His table. That was unthinkable in His day. His compassion knew no bounds; His love, no limits. 

Yet this radical inclusivity never meant a watering down of truth. To the woman caught in adultery, Jesus extended both forgiveness and the command to “go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). His grace was not a blank cheque for sin, but an invitation to walk in holiness empowered by His Spirit. He upheld the goodness of God’s design for sexuality and marriage, even as He welcomed the broken and marginalised. 

As believers seeking to engage the LGBTQ+ community with gospel integrity, we must embody this same balance of grace and truth. We open wide the doors of our churches and our hearts, creating safe spaces for honest dialogue and vulnerable sharing. We weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn, and hear the trauma experienced by those who have been bullied, harassed or hated. 

At the same time, we cannot shy away from the eternally important truth that God’s beautiful and intentional design for gender, sexuality, and marriage is not an amorphous construct to be fluidly redefined by personal desire, but rather an unchanging creation order founded upon His immutable covenant. As Rebecca McLaughlin expresses from the vantage point of her own journey grappling with these issues, now joyfully committed in a 15-year marriage with children, “The Bible tells a story in which our bodies, male and female, are created very good” – purposefully complementary bearers of the divine image intended to experience the fullness of God’s blessing within the sacred bounds of His design. 

From Covenant to Counterfeit: God’s Original Rainbow Promise 

This intentionality and heart behind divine design is powerfully depicted in the biblical meaning of the rainbow. After the Flood, God established the rainbow as a universal sign of His gracious covenant to never again destroy the earth with a global deluge (Genesis 9:12-17). Spanning the horizon, it points to the all-encompassing scope of God’s mercy and faithfulness. 

Yet today, the rainbow has been co-opted as a symbol of pride for the LGBTQ+ movement – a diametric departure from its sacred, God-ordained purpose. Just as in the days of Noah, when “every intention of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5), so our culture now celebrates and takes pride in sexual brokenness and confusion. 

While this “diversity” rainbow purports to represent inclusion and tolerance, it actually signifies the rejection of God’s design for sexuality, gender, and marriage. It is a man-made counterfeit that denies the heart of the gospel message – that only through repentance and faith in Christ can we be freed from the bondage of sin and restored to right relationship with God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). 

But even as our world spirals deeper into chaos and division, the true rainbow, with its emphatic prismatic display radiating from the refraction and reflection of sunlight, remains a symbol of hope and God’s enduring promise. Just as God preserved a righteous remnant in Noah’s day, He is still calling out a people for His name from every tribe, tongue, and nation.  

And one day, Christ will return in glory to judge sin and make all things new – restoring peace, unity and perfection. As Jesus warned, “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:37). Revelation 4:3 gives us a glorious foretaste of how God will remember His covenant promises in that coming judgment and restoration: “And he who sat there appeared like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald” – its brilliant gemstone hue representing God’s glorious majesty, His enduring covenant relationship with humanity, and the mercy that will ultimately triumph when He makes all things new. As we read in Revelation 21, with His splendour on full display, the New Jerusalem will indeed be a place of dazzling and breathtaking beauty!  

A Brighter Hope: Reclaiming the True Colours 

So let us boldly reclaim the rainbow’s true meaning as we proclaim the gospel in these last days. May we point people to the ark of salvation found in Christ alone, knowing that God’s mercy and grace are still mightier than the tides of unrighteousness that surge around us. 

For in that very brokenness, that aching desire for identity and belonging, is precisely where the gospel shines brightest. The Pride rainbow, like every other human attempt at finding meaning apart from God, is really a longing for the very thing only Christ can offer – a love that doesn’t just tolerate us, but transforms us from the inside out. 

This is the glorious gospel truth that Pride Month, for all its color and exuberance, fails to grasp. That when humanity fell in the Garden, we didn’t just lose our innocence – we lost the very likeness of our Creator. The image of God in us, though not erased, was tragically marred and disfigured. Like a mirror shattered into a thousand pieces, we each reflect but a fragmented glimpse of the divine image we were made to bear. 

But into that brokenness, that confusion, that utter ruin of all that was good and right, stepped the Son of God Himself. The very Word that spoke the universe into existence took on flesh and entered our fractured story. And on the cross, He who knew no sin became sin for us. The Author of Life died the death we deserved. The Unblemished One allowed Himself to be marred beyond human semblance, that in His wounds, we might be healed and made whole. 

This is what it means that “Christ receiveth sinners.” Not that He winks at our willful rebellion or redefines our brokenness as something to celebrate. But that He loves us enough to take our distorted selves upon Himself, to be disfigured in our place, that we might be restored and renewed in His unblemished image. 

In Christ, we are not just forgiven of sin – we are freed from its power. We are not just absolved of guilt – we are adorned in divine righteousness. We are not just given a clean slate – we are given a new name, a new nature, a new identity as the redeemed sons and daughters of the Most High God. We are adopted into the family of God by the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of adoption by which we cry Abba (“Daddy”), Father. Whatever our past, we are cleansed by the pure, sinless blood of the Lamb of God, slain before the foundation of the world, so we can sleep soundly like little children – in clean sheets. 

The Love that Ends the Chase 

This is the better story, the truer identity, the lavish inheritance that every rainbow-draped, glitter-strewn Pride parade is unknowingly shouting out for. It’s the deepest desire of every heart that aches for belonging, that longs to be seen and known and cherished to the uttermost. 

But the gospel doesn’t stop at self-actualisation. It invites us into nothing less than re-creation in the image of Christ. It beckons us to find ourselves by losing ourselves, to gain everything by selling all we have to follow Him. It dares us to stake our identity not in our sexual proclivities or self-constructed labels, but in the matchless, unshakeable love of the God who spoke the true rainbow into existence as a sign of His unfailing covenant grace. 

This is the message our world needs more than ever on IDAHOBIT Day and every day. Not a diluted gospel that baptises secular creeds, but the undiluted, unfiltered goodness of a God who stops at nothing to rescue and redeem the lost – and to restore them to the fullness of who He created them to be. 

So may we as Christians have the courage to reclaim the rainbow – not as a symbol of expressive individualism, but as a banner of God’s unfailing promise to make all things new. May we lovingly dismantle the lies of the “love is love” narrative, while opening wide the arms of Christ to any and all who are weary of chasing counterfeits. 

May we never tire of proclaiming the scandalous, subversive, pride-shattering truth that “Christ receiveth sinners” – and that in Him, we can become so much more than our broken selves could ever imagine. May we point the prodigals to the only love that never fails, the only identity that never disappoints, the only hope that anchors the soul in the fiercest of storms. 

This is our calling in a pride-saturated world. Not to rail against the darkness out of desperation and frustration, but to shine with the light of a Love that is stronger than the grave. To bear witness to the God who makes sinners into saints, broken shards into radiant reflections of His glory. 

So let us raise high the true rainbow, the banner of a covenant Love that pursued us at infinite cost – and that even now relentlessly seeks and saves the lost. And may our brokenhearted world catch a glimpse of the extravagant grace that turns prodigals into prized possessions, children of wrath into heirs of the promise. 

Love has a name, and His name is Jesus. And He’s still in the business of making all things new – one shattered image bearer at a time. 

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