Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

What does the rainbow signify?

Roland Clarke

Answering this question depends entirely on one's frame of reference! LGBTQ advocates fly the rainbow Pride flag representing their 'beautiful' vision involving diverse peoples, especially, but not exclusively, encompassing various sex/gender types. Their aim is to see everyone accepting one another, not judging/hurting each other, that is, living in colorful harmony.1

However, Jews, Christians and Muslims view the rainbow very differently based on the Torah (Taurat) which tells the story of Noah's flood and the rainbow. These monotheistic faiths respect the basic dignity and human rights of people from every ethnicity but their view of gender/sexuality is fundamentally different. On the one hand, the LGBTQ agenda seeks to establish a society where everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, is recognized (and protected legally) from being judged or demeaned by others. (Such behaviour or words can be hurtful or offensive.) Monotheists, on the other hand, believe there are fundamental ethical sexual boundaries (including heterosexual marriage) as rooted in our God-given gender-identity, whether male or female. This identity, in turn, is grounded in being made in God's image2 as revealed in the Law of Moses (Torah). For this reason, monotheists are within their rights to uphold a different set of ethical norms and they can't ignore or suppress these norms without violating their conscience.3

Of course, God’s rainbow, given as a covenant sign to Noah and all of us as his descendants is only a small part of a much bigger story of the good news of salvation as portrayed through Scripture. A dear friend named Anne recently witnessed a brilliant double stacked rainbow spanning the entire horizon. Interestingly, this spectacular sign appeared while she was driving her mother home after surviving open-heart surgery! This beautiful image of hope reminded Anne of the many friends who had prayed earnestly for her mother. Truly this was a heavenly sign assuring her that, indeed, God had heard their prayers. Anne recalled God's compassionate intervention in Noah's time and so often throughout history, reaffirming God's power to rescue people from the very jaws of death, however, Anne was disappointed that her mother seemed unmoved by this splendid scene.

John Gilchrist, who has published a number of books comparing the Bible and the Qur'an, has gleaned some interesting insights based on the story of Noah. He notes the Qur'anic statement; “So We delivered him and the inmates of the ark, and made it a sign to the nations.” (Surah 29:15) Then Gilchrist explains, “Noah’s sweat and toil in building the ark, in which he was soon to be shut away until the storms had passed, and his ultimate deliverance onto a refreshed earth is a type and symbol of Jesus’ suffering on the cross, being shut away in a tomb, and resurrection from the dead three days later.”4

Gilchrist acknowledges that “quotations from the Qur’an are useful to draw comparisons with Muslims between Noah and Jesus from their own text book, but the most effective parallels come from the Bible.” (bold font added)

Gilchrist continues by explaining that when the flood waters had fully receded God showed Noah a rainbow5 in the sky and explained what it meant:

This is the sign of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant which is between me and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. Genesis 9:14-15, RSV

Gilchrist explains how this points to the Messiah, the long promised Savior of the world.

Just as the rainbow has become the symbol of God’s promise never again to destroy the earth until the final judgment, so Jesus also left a symbol of God’s open hand of grace to all men which will never be withdrawn until the end comes:

The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-25, RSV

Both Noah and Jesus left a symbol of God’s covenant which was put into effect as soon as the storm had passed (in Noah’s case, the flood; in Jesus’ case, the cross). With Noah it was the rainbow, with Jesus the communion celebration of bread and wine.

Furthermore, John Gilchrist notes that,

in contrast to all other men on earth who were filled with wickedness and violence, Noah “was a righteous man, blameless in his generation” (Genesis 6:9, RSV). So, in contrast to the Jewish leaders whom he had all convicted of sin in the presence of an adulterous woman (John 8:7-9), Jesus could say, “Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” John 8:46, RSV.

Speaking of righteousness, it was precisely because of Noah's godliness and trust in the Lord that he was shown Divine mercy and spared from catastrophic judgment that wiped out all other humans living on the earth.

Gilchrist aptly ends his discussion of Noah and the rainbow by noting:

The days of Jesus and Noah would both be the same. Jesus stated plainly that, when he returns to the earth with the final judgment of God, the earth will be taken by surprise in its daily experiences of life just as it was when the flood came down at the time of Noah:

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of man. They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all ... so it will be on the day when the Son of man is revealed. Likewise as it was in the days of Lot—they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed. Luke 17:26-30, RSV

The flood came suddenly, unexpectedly, while all the earth was going about its daily business as if it were just another day. So, Jesus said, it will be when he returns. The heavens will be opened in a moment and the final judgment will come in a moment. Although he said there will be portents hinting at its imminent approach, it too will come suddenly while life continues as normal from day to day.”

We've seen glimpses of how pertinent Noah's story is to Muslims but let us not underestimate its relevance to non-Muslims and those of LGBTQ persuasion. Interestingly many passages in the Qur'an warn people about the sudden destruction which fell on Sodom (similar to the Bible) as Divine judgment against their rampant sin of homosexuality. (Surah 7:80-83; 26:165-173; 27:54-58)

The apostle Peter also gives a dire warning about the final day of judgment when ungodly people will be destroyed.

I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”

They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. (2 Peter 3:3-10)

Now let's revisit Anne's story and see how it ended on an encouraging note. God answered Anne's prayer by opening her mother's eyes to appreciate the real meaning behind the rainbow. You recall that Anne was disappointed because her mother seemed unmoved by seeing the double-stacked rainbow shortly after surviving open heart surgery. Anne's story continues:

As soon as I saw the rainbow, the Holy Spirit stirred my heart, and I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that the rainbow was painted in the sky for my mother .... It was for her. But she didn’t seem to be impacted by it. It didn’t seem to be anything more than something she simply noticed.

I was disappointed. How can God give something that’s just for her and for it to go unrealized?

A few days later, it was evening and she had gone to bed, and I was writing in a journal in the kitchen. It was a journal that I was writing and leaving behind for her, documenting all that had happened in the hospital, recording the many reasons to give thanks. I began to write my prayer for her.

Open the eyes of her heart, Lord.

Open the eyes of her heart to your love that is full; a love that doesn’t forgive in part, but fully forgives all our sins.

Open the eyes of her heart to your love that is brilliantly bright; it’s not a faint or dimly lit love that others have just told her about, but it’s brilliantly bright enough for her to see for herself.

The rainbow, of course, reminded me of Noah and the Ark. After the flood, God said, “I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth.” (Genesis 9:13)

That covenant, or promise, foreshadowed the covenant Jesus was talking about in Luke 22:20, “After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.””

Open the eyes of her heart to your love that is double stacked, where the New Testament is stacked on the Old, where the New Covenant is stacked on the Old Covenant, where the rainbow always pointed to the cross. God saved Noah from the darkness of the Flood with an Ark. He saved us from the darkness of our sin through Jesus Christ.

Open the eyes of her heart.

I closed the journal.

Shortly after, my mother came out and sat down. She couldn’t sleep. She felt overwhelmed. Thinking she was anxious or worried, I asked her what was wrong.

“I’m overwhelmed with thanks. I can’t believe God would give me a new heart right before Easter. And that rainbow? I think it was for me!”

The ink had barely dried on the page on which I had been writing.

And when she talked about a new heart, it wasn’t about a surgical repair, but about the heart in Ezekiel 36:26, “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”

“Yes. Yes, that rainbow was for you.” He opened the eyes of her heart.

All Bible quotations are taken from the New Living Translation unless otherwise indicated.

If you wish to correspond with me or ask questions feel free to contact me here.

A couple of weeks later, after further reading and research, I have expanded my thoughts on these issues and am presenting them in the sequel,  A closer look at the rainbow.

Endnote: Rainbow flag prompts apparent school boycott

Last week (mid May 2023) two shocking articles appeared in the London Free Press showing how the rainbow flag has generated disharmony between marginalized communities, particularly the Muslims and the gays. Although these articles give various viewpoints, not even a word is mentioned regarding the many Christians, who've historically shared a similar perspective to mainstream Islam on the contentious issue of homosexuality.6 The co-authors conclude by quoting two people who are unmistakably in favour of the LGBTQ view.

The story boomeranged widely on social media, with people weighing in from London and beyond. “Learning about this incident is saddening,” Sara Khorshid, a Muslim and doctoral candidate at Western University, wrote on Twitter, adding when she arrived in London six years ago the imam at her mosque talked about the “importance of making sure Muslim kids go to school and express solidarity on Intl Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.”

“I am hearing about mass absences of students from school in London Ontario when the Pride flag is raised,” wrote Ken MacKinnon, from Prince Edward Island. “This really saddens my heart when families do not see that 2SLGBTQIA+ children and families are people with feelings and need our collective support.” (Source)

Notice this conclusion hints at a victim mindset which focuses on hurt feelings of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community! Is this coincidental? Speaking of feelings let's consider love/hate...

Endnote: Love & Hate

Earlier we read Bible passages describing how God destroyed the world in Noah's time with water and a prediction that in the last day he will destroy the earth by fire (including the heavens). Does such wrathful imagery seem hateful, at odds with a loving Deity who is tenderhearted, sensitive and comforting? Should we be surprised that God-fearing people like Muslims, Jews and Christians are construed as being hateful simply because they voice objections to the LGBTQ lifestyle and agenda?

Last week I noticed a new book titled, The T Guide, coauthored by Gigi Georgeous & Kade Gottmik, which implies God is 'hateful' when it states, “The biggest thing I've learned is that the hate that's coming at you has nothing to do with you.” (p.166, Penguin Random House, 2023)

I wondered, “Don't these authors realize: genuine friendship sometimes requires speaking painful words?” In fact, a well-known proverb says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6, bold added) Likewise the prophet Hosea describes God, (the best friend) wounding his wayward people (the Israelites) with a view to bandaging, healing and restoring them.

Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us.
He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence.
Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring. (Hosea 6:1-3)

Similarly Solomon said,

My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son. … No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-6,11; Proverbs 3:5-6, bold font added for emphasis, NIV)

Notice two things: First, correction and discipline imply a certain amount of pain, in other words having our feelings hurt can be for our good. This pain is meant to be a step toward healing and restoration. Secondly, when God chastens and punishes a person who is wayward and then proves stubborn and unteachable, sadly the outcome is usually severe, even devastating. As it is written in Romans 2:5, “But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (NIV)

In keeping with this, we read in Genesis 6:5-7;

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.” But Noah found favor with the Lord.

But notice, Divine anger doesn't flair up and pour out immediately in righteous judgment. As it is written, “Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.” (Joel 2:13, bold added). Scripture also tells us that “Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment.” (2 Peter 2:5) How long of a period was this? We don't know; perhaps 120 years. (Genesis 6:3) But certainly it would have taken Noah a long time to build the ark, allowing ample time for observers to take note of what he was doing and ask all kinds of questions.

Endnote: Suppressing Free Speech (under the guise of hate speech)

Publishing this article opposing LGBTQ beliefs and practices, suggests we still have freedom of speech, at least in certain areas of public discourse. However, there are certain areas such as politics, commerce and education where conservative moral/religious beliefs are suppressed and censored. Recently two legal cases pertaining to schools have been in the spotlight in my own province of Ontario: one involving a therapist and the other a high school student named Josh Alexander. Josh has recently lodged an appeal with the human rights commission.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice just gave their decision May 1st 2023, upholding a school board's censorship of Christian therapist, Dr Ann Gilles, for issuing a warning about the transgender agenda. Attorney Jack Fonseca described this decision as “a stupendously horrific ruling that destroys our constitutional right to freedom of speech. This censorship of parents and citizens voices is totally unfair.” 

Rob Hoogland is another Canadian who ran afoul of the powerful transgender lobby almost three years ago. He refused to comply with the transgender rules regarding addressing his daughter using 'appropriate' gender pronouns. As a result he's been imprisoned and placed under a gag order.


1 Wikipedia currently states: “The rainbow flag, also known as the gay pride flag or simply pride flag, is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) pride and LGBT social movements. The colors reflect the diversity of the LGBT community and the spectrum of human sexuality and gender.” (Source; 23-05-2023)

As I was reading up on the issue, I was struck by the ever growing acronyms: LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA+, LGBTIQA+, LGBTQIA2S+, LGBTQQIP2SA, and probably that will not be the end of it…. What is so striking about them all? There is no “H” in any of them! In other words, the vast majority of human beings, i.e. heterosexual people, are explicitly not included in their beautiful colorful community that is allegedly so tolerant and all-inclusive. If indeed, “the colors reflect the diversity of the LGBT community and the spectrum of human sexuality and gender,” it is rather strange that the majority sexual orientation is never mentioned explicitly in all their acronyms. Does that mean, they are not really “welcome”? None of the colors of the beautiful color spectrum is reserved or even “left over” for them?

2 A team of six international Islamic scholars acknowledge that man is, indeed, made in God's image as seen in The Study Qur'an. A footnote to Surah 95:4 quotes the phrase in Surah 64:3, “human beings are the best of God's creation” and also references a famous hadith qudsi which echoes Genesis 1:27, “Truly God created Adam in His image.” Remarkably, the footnote actually references Genesis 1:27 and then continues, “This hadith is understood to mean that human beings are created with such attributes as life, knowledge, power, will, speech, hearing and sight (the qualities most often used in Islamic theology) to describe God which are, in fact, Divine attributes.”

3 How does a godly conscience enable Christians to respectfully disagree with gay/trans morality while also refraining from making demeaning or insulting remarks about those who practice illicit sex whether homosexuality or fornication or adultery? Our supreme example, of course, in such matters is Jesus Christ who taught the golden rule; “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31) Christ modelled wisdom and integrity in John chapters 4 & 8, with two different immoral women. In both cases Jesus was full of grace and truth. On the one hand, he didn't hastily condemn these ladies, but instead, respectfully and gently pointed them to the right path.

Consider the case of Jack Phillips, a Christian baker, who graciously declined making a cake for a gay bride and groom who asked him to make a cake for their wedding. He did not condemn the customer or make any demeaning remarks but simply suggested they check out some other bakers who provide this kind of service. They did not like his reply but deliberately decided to force him to comply by suing him at court. This case dragged on for 6 years, even ramping up to the Supreme Court of America. “His case is one of several in the legal pipeline in which professionals – video producers, florists, graphic artists – declined to provide services for same-sex weddings.”

Make no mistake: It is one thing to emulate Christ's gentleness in John 4 & 8 towards ordinary sinners who've been caught in the Devil's snare, but it is a very different matter how one responds to politicians, activists, lawyers and CEOs who deliberately and cunningly push the LGBTQ agenda and teaching in schools and the wider public sphere. Jesus sharply refuted and rebuked such people who held positions of authority and wielded greater influence. (Matthew 23) An example of this kind of rebuke is a recent article in the National Post by seasoned journalist Rex Murphy, titled, For schools and apparently the Prime Minister, parents are the new 'deplorables', subtitled, Parents are reviled as 'hateful' if they voice concerns about woke activism in the classroom. After quoting Justin Trudeau's fiery statement at a fundraiser event for an LGBTQ charity in Toronto, Murphy exclaims, “This is unbelievable. It’s mad. Are parents, fired by concern issuing from the love they hold for their children, ... “trying to outdo themselves … with (what) cruelty and isolation they can inflict” on their offspring? Can he mean any of this? Could he be saying that parents should not be tolerated?” (Source)

4 Quotations are taken from John Gilchrist's book, Sharing the Gospel with Muslims, in particular chapter two, titled, Noah, The First Herald of Righteousness.

5 Although some Muslims may be unfamiliar with the spiritual implications of the rainbow in the sky because the Qur'an doesn't explicitly mention it, the Ahadith does acknowledge the biblical account of the rainbow; “The rainbow is a safeguard for the inhabitants of the earth that they will not be drowned (as a form of destruction in the time of Nooh).” (Collected by Imaamul Bukhaari in his Adabul Mufrad 767/590)

6 We need to stress that their views are only similar in the sense of considering the act as sinful, but not at all similar in the sense of how these people should be treated in society; see the articles on Islamic law and its punishments for homosexuality and Does the Bible require the death penalty for homosexuality?

Articles by Roland Clarke
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