Rainbows, Promises, and Holiness

bow

Today I saw a rainbow.

We’ve had heavy rain the last couple of days. I had stopped at a traffic light as I was driving down from Farmington into Bristol. The radio (and friends) had reported that another cell was moving slowly through Bristol. Farmington was still bright with the shining sun but right across the street everything was out of focus in a haze of rain.

Every now and then, during these days of rain, there was a calm where you would look outside and see that wall of clouds blackening the sky except where you are standing.

It really is a weird feeling if you happen to be aware of the conditions.

You transform into this tiny, insignificant speck in danger of any of the forces all around you. The wind, if it gets strong enough. The water, if there is enough of it. The lightning, if it crashes down.  A tiny speck against that power doesn’t stand a chance.

But today, during one of these heavy blasts of rain and momentary pauses, the sun broke through the wall of clouds.

It wasn’t gone. It wasn’t even hiding. All the stuff happening here obscured my ability to see it, but it was always there. And as it shone through the misty haze, it’s diffused light refracted  to display the colors across the dark sky.

It made me think of my kids and your kids and your nephews and even us. The world isn’t as dark as it could be, not yet. It’s not even as openly violent as it was. We’re physical softies compared to our great grandparents or even their great-grandparents.  We’ve disconnected from our evil by applying labels, or creating procedures, or by conflating ideas.

Even so, this current darkness obscures the light by being all around us. It makes us think that this is the way it’s supposed to be. Our moral eyes get accustomed to it. So much so that fellow Chrisitans, people who should know better, defend the darkness as day. In a world that applauds wrong, happily encourages others to do likewise, and then get offended by folk pointing out the wrong it’s not surprising that this is the culture so many of us adopt.

Specks like me become targets for your collective lightning, strong gusts of opinion, and your deluge of pseudo-tolerance. I don’t stand a chance.

In all honesty, none of us stand a chance. We all stand before our maker who is stronger than any wind, fiercer than any flood, and more frightening than any blast of lightning. We stand before him because he has the right to judge. He made us.

I don’t mind telling you this because you’ve probably forgotten, but God is not only love, he’s also holy.

We don’t know what that means today. It’s a church word. It doesn’t only mean “other” though it includes that. It doesn’t only mean “set apart” though it includes that.

The Bible recalls an event where the world had gotten dark. People were exceedingly violent and proud about it. God was patient for years, then he had enough. His holiness was displayed and the world really went dark, the wind really did blast, the lightning flashed, and the waters rose.

Holiness displayed looked like the judgment that people knew they deserved. They did wrong and came up with excuses with how they weren’t in the wrong. And God responded by stopping them.

Thing is, the fact that they had gotten that bad wasn’t that God was powerless. He is holy and part of his wrath is pulling his closeness back and letting people do what they want to do. We stupidly think it’s freedom, but it’s willingly embracing slavery.

That’s what those people had done. They rejected God and God rejected them. For years. And then finally the time came to clean the slate.

After he was done he made a promise that he wouldn’t clean the slate in that same way again. It’s really easy to be afraid of the rain and thunder if it was used to display holiness so God took an atmospheric event and imbued it with meaning.

A rainbow does not mean what people have made it mean. That rainbow is a promise from a person. It promises restrained judgment but it also promises that this person, God, is watching. That should encourage us but it should also keep us on our toes. Don’t lose hope as the world gets darker, but don’t embrace the darkness in some confused effort of trying to display love.

Love doesn’t applaud wrong for the sake of tolerating differences. Love actively and emotionally embraces the good for the sake of others, even when that involves exposing the wrong. Love is concerned about the outpoured wrath of God—not in the future, but right now.

Because God really is watching.  And God really is holy. And God really is judging right now.

It can be a depressing mission when the darkness is so thick but the darkness just indicates that we have to be about the work even more faithfully and with more urgency.

As I drove down the road seeing that rainbow, I didn’t see many people outside. I imagine that most people didn’t even realize the rain had stopped. It would soon start up again anyway. It was dark out. They were used to it and didn’t notice the difference.

And yet there were a handful of people out there, camera in hand, smiling as they took a picture of the rainbow. They were sensitive to the light.

“What a sight!” said one person.

“Even better in the middle of all this rain.”

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10 thoughts on “Rainbows, Promises, and Holiness

What if God really is watching, really is holy, and really is pleased that his gay and lesbian children are finally able to achieve the acceptance and intimacy he designed every person to crave?

Hypotheticals are tough to consider because there are so many of them. For every one there is another two hypotheticals.

That aside you’re question assumes the conclusion. Here is a question that takes the hardwired sin into account: What if God really is watching, really is holy, and really is pleased when his gay and lesbian children are finally able to achieve the acceptance and intimacy he designed every person to crave by being satisfied with Him instead of appeasing their own cravings? Or I can ask that question any which way.

The question is only hypothetical if you want it to be. I assume the conclusion in my question no less than you do in your original post (that God is judging, though it’s not entirely clear what he’s judging exactly: homosexuality, gay marriage, the appropriation of the rainbow symbol?). Given the dearth of biblical evidence one way or the other on monogamous, consensual homosexual relationships (since they didn’t really exist at the time the biblical texts were compiled), we’re both shooting in the dark.

Your restatement of my question assumes something else – that God asks something of every single one of gay children that he does not ask of the vast majority of his straight ones. I’d ask why you assume that to be the case.

God wants his single heterosexual children to be satisfied with their own cravings instead of with him? Is that what the Christian God acts like?

Interesting.

Does the Christian God call all heterosexual men and women to celibacy?

If not, then there are clearly some “cravings” he intends for us to fulfill in a more, let us say, indirect manner. So I’ll return to my question, more clearly asked: Does God intend for all gay men and women to deny those desires while intending for most straight men and women to fulfill them?

If so, why?

A long response below. I won’t have much to add.

The question, again, assumes the conclusion. We have cravings, you believe, that need to be fulfilled therefore we should fulfill those cravings.

No delineation on how you know which cravings ought to be fulfilled (which, granted, is an epistemological problem). Simply an implicit mandate by circumstance that these cravings (besides others) are okay merely on the mythical and ephemeral grounds that God has nothing to say about it. Shaky ground that. Those echoes resonate deep into our collective history with the whispered words “has God really said?”

But beyond the implicit assumption of knowing which cravings ought or ought not be fulfilled (a loving heterosexual relationship with one’s own mother vs. a loving heterosexual relationship with one’s brother and sister vs. a loving heteresexual relationship with one’s willing pet vs. a loving heterosexual relationship with willing children vs. etc.?) you also assume that the purpose of cravings is fulfillment. That since Cravings are hardwired into our individual being then it must be something God wanted us to seek to fulfill.

Now, I do applaud you in seeking a telos, a design as it were, to cravings. At the very least you’ve gripped onto the notion that God’s sovereignty indicates that things have meaning and are attached to His purposes in some way.

But you have fundamentally erred in thinking that the telos of Cravings is in fact fulfillment. Here I’m talking about what cravings are and not how you know This Some Cravings from Those Other Cravings.

Hunger is designed to notify the body for the need of sustenance. And if you’re hungry enough, for long enough, you might find that you stop being hungry. The Craving disappear because the hunger has been satisfied by turning in on the individual.

But the Craving of hunger doesn’t differentiate about which sustenance to take. You might think the Craving seeks Cheetos when what it really needs is lean white meat. And the Crave can be confused. You might feel hungry when you’re actually thirsty. Or you might find yourself desiring dirt when what you really need is vitamins.

The Craving tells you there is a hole but it doesn’t tell you what to fill the hole with. It tells you that there is a need but it doesn’t tell you what you need to fix it.

This resonates with the Biblical account that God enables in Adam the need by revealing to him the lack. I’m sure this account gets perverted with silly statements like “That was suitable for Adam but not for gay men and women.”

But the point in the above paragraph is not only that the man and woman are built for compatibility in a very tiny area, but rather that God really does have something to say about cravings and their usage. The compass points North for a reason, though it might not be the reason people think.

The point might not be “here is this craving, go fulfill it.” but rather “one has this craving and what is it there for?”

I’m sure you’ll deny the passage but Romans 1 is specifically about cravings in individual people indicating that God is judging all people.

The text doesn’t say that God is judging those people who desire to worship bugs differently from those who worship horses and differently from those who practice homosexuality. It doesn’t even say that these people are so evil that they are heterosexual by Crave but turn against their heterosexuality to perform homosexual acts. Silly misreading of the text that.

Romans 1 says that people, the entire group, all of us, refused to acknowledge God and give thanks to Him and outright rejected the obvious truth of Him. That being the case God judged all of us. Not individuals. He judged the whole group of us. He gave us over to our craves. We didn’t want him so he allowed Our System to feel the Crave until it started eating itself from the inside.

That’s the judgment I was writing about above.

Not this weak idea of judgment grounded in being naughty and God spanking a hand here and being nice and God applauding there. What a silly western, post-enlightenment view of God’s sovereignty.

The fact that we have consulted our magicians to come up with justifications that satisfy our collective hardening of heart doesn’t deny the fact that we, as a group, have been given over to our Cravings. So some of us really do bow down in front of bugs and the text highlights that as wrong: evidence of our collective darkened mind. And some of us are gossipers: evidence of our collective darkened mind. Some of us go and commit shameful acts with one another leaving what God built us collectively for: evidence of our collective darkened mind.

Leaving us to our own devices. That’s the judgment.

That our Cravings up and are filled with “every kind of wickedness” so much so that we’re not satisfied with the evils of yesterday but we have to invent all sorts of new evils, evils the Bible doesn’t have to list because we’re so very inventive on doing wrong, that we up also continue to do these things and then applaud others who practice them.

Individuals do whatever they want with their desires because God is judging humanity. The Christian who craves to gossip has no right to satisfy that crave. The Christian who craves to have a loving relationship with two women has no right to satisfy that crave. The Christian who craves to be with one woman has no right to satisfy that crave.

We. Have. No. Right. To. Self. Satisfaction.

It just isn’t in the text.

All our satisfaction must be subsumed under the greater satisfaction of being satisfied with God and being thankful to him.

But maybe you’re asking a biological question. Abram and Sarai really were sterile and yet God made something happen. But the sterility wasn’t natural. The text says so.

Indeed, Abram and Sarai’s family (Humans) were really designed by God to fill the earth. That was the secondary purpose of the compatibility next to the coregency underneath God’s sovereignty. The fact that they couldn’t doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t. Can’t say the same for homosexual relationships on this side of science. I’m sure the day will come along when we figure out how to game that system as well and laugh in the face of any sort of evolutionary theories.

But there was a tertiary yet final and fundamental purpose of the compatibility: to become one flesh. The human pairing of man and woman illustrated Christ and the Church as Paul in Ephesians points out. I’m sure this text would be summarily perverted too, perhaps highlighting that it’s about love or some other textual misreading.

Yet the point there is underscored for the Husband and the Wife to understand what their pairing is doing.

Which snaps back on what the pairing in Romans 1 is doing. It isn’t illustrating Christ and the Church. Paul opens that we have been given over to our own thinking and we’re thusly allowed to employ our cravings to (unknowingly) draw pictures of what we think about God, what we think about God’s image, and what we think about ourselves.

Men, rejecting the picture of Christ and the Church, instead engrossed with the image in the mirror and no further. A crave painting an awful illustration of idolatry for all of us to see and realize what we have done and how we’ve gone astray to our own way.

No, Paul. The solution isn’t to satisfy the crave, be it straight or gay or bi or poly. The Cross of Christ rips into our situation clamoring that our craves are saying something but sometimes we don’t understand what they’re saying while we interpret them however we want.

Wanting to pin the revealed Messiah to the tree really shows what we all think of God. What makes us think that our sexual relationships, ultimately designed specifically to depict a union with God, would fare any better?

I don’t consider homosexuals’ use of the rainbow image as a misappropriation of a biblical symbol and promise. They got the idea from Flag of the Races used by world peace advocates. In other words, they appropriated the idea of colors representing the unification of different races into the idea of colors representing the unification of different sexual persuasions. There’s no association with Christian symbolism, so why force the issue?

Jenny,
I’m not exactly sure what you’re responding to. I don’t recall saying that a group has misappropriated a biblical symbol. Essentially, I said that the symbol of the rainbow was forever imbued with eschatalogical importance whether people want it, know it, acknowledge it or not.

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