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Rainbow imagery has been seen all over the place in recent weeks. Some are painted or drawn on a sheet of paper while others are chalked on pavements or assembled from multiple cut-outs of coloured stock. It is being used as a symbol to celebrate healthcare workers, perhaps celebrating their diversity and certainly looking forward with hope.

I remember rainbows being common in Christian contexts when I was a child and young man. In a Christian bookshop, you’d see them on all manner of merchandise and the chances were that, if you had guitarists at church, at least one of them would have a rainbow guitar strap. That all stems from Genesis 9, where the rainbow marks God’s promise not to flood the world again.

In more recent years, the rainbow has been more commonly linked with groups promoting diverse sexualities. I’m not sure why or when the shift occurred but, even in churches, rainbows seem as likely to be associated with LGBTQIA activism (now as many strands as colours although I think the rainbow has been used since it was just LGB) as with remembering the post-diluvian days of Noah.

So far, I don’t think I have spotted any commentary on this latest shift in social iconography. I wonder how that will play out assuming that things like Pride parades are allowed again by next year? Or will we just have to live with even less clue about why a rainbow is being displayed when we see one created by human hands rather than painted across the sky?

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