Whenever I see the rainbow
The office where I work is plastered with rainbow flag stickers. The notice board has a thick copy of the inclusion policy stapled to it and one of my favourite Stonewall posters ‘Some People Are Gay. Get Over It!’, is pride of place in the centre.
I am not out to many people at work. I made a choice shortly after coming out to myself that I would never hide, and that I would tell people when the moment came for it. So far that has only happened with two people: it was a little scary, but it was right.
Seeing those rainbows always makes me feel safe. It lets me know that work is a safe space for me. It makes me feel loved. The rainbow is a sign for me that I am valued for who I am.
The rainbow is a promise between me and my co-workers. Every promise has two sides: it asks me to be open, not to hide, to be myself and not to worry. And in return they will refrain from judgement and discrimination.
The idea of rainbows as a promise is very old. The ancient sages who wrote the Bible used the sign of the rainbow to teach a lesson to the Jews. People would have asked them, ‘Hey, if the world is so messed up, why doesn’t God just destroy the whole world and start again?’
Then they would say, “Listen to a story about when God did that. In the time of our forefathers, God flooded the earth in rage at the wickedness of humankind. He saved just one man, our ancestor Noah, and his family. He built a boat and put all the animals and creatures of the Earth in it, and the waters fell from the heavens and destroyed everything that was left, save this one righteous man and his family. When the flood waters dried, God made a promise with us. He commanded us then to rule the land, and the animals, and the plants wisely. He commanded us not to eat meat with the lifeblood still in it. And he warned us that each of us will have to account for our deeds.”
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.
Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” – Genesis 9:12-16
The rainbow is still a special sign. What we are reading here is the Bible explaining that God allows us human beings to choose. God doesn’t intervene with our choices. God doesn’t smite us for going wrong. God isn’t happy with everything that’s going on, but He has promised not to destroy us. And the rainbow is a reminder to Him of the freedom he gave us to choose. It’s a reminder of the decision he made not to judge us – at least, not yet. It’s a reminder to us that the only one qualified to judge is God. And it’s a reminder to us of the freedom he gave us to look after the earth and our fellow creatures.
So I wonder what God thinks when he sees the Pride parade… with all those rainbows…