As I write, our children’s schoolroom is festooned with rainbows. Christina Rossetti’s poem is on one shelf, Frederic Edwin Church’s painting on another. Hand-painted rainbows — colored with enthusiasm if not with Church’s skill — by our 5- and 3-year-olds hang on the walls.
Are we taking a cue from the president, professional sports, and all the nation’s most powerful corporations and doing our part to celebrate pride in our little homeschooling way? No. Our lessons follow the seasons, and because it is spring, we have a week or so of rainbow-themed learning. The kids love it, and — rookie homeschoolers though we are — we are having a blast too.
Should we toss out the lot — poems, paintings, coloring pages, songs — and live in a colorless world because a bunch of twisted adults use this month to mock God? Of course not.
There is much to agree with in Elise Temme’s recent guide on “How To Parent During Pride Month.” I heartily concur with her five practical suggestions, and you can bet we read a lot of Genesis in our house — teaching our brood about the true, covenantal meaning of the rainbow. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to warn parents away from adopting the approach, as detailed in Temme’s introduction, of telling young children not to take joy in the rainbow flags they are likely to encounter this month. Our goal is to reclaim the rainbow, fully and heartily — not relinquish its meaning to the secular hordes. I don’t care if the Dodgers host Dylan Mulvaney in a nun’s habit with a rainbow wimple — no human has the power to make ugly what God has made good. That goes for all the colors of the Earth and sky.
C.S. Lewis was inspired to write his classic defense of objective value, The Abolition of Man, after encountering an elementary textbook’s cynical claim that all value judgments are subjective. The textbook authors argued that because one person might call a waterfall sublime, and another might say it’s only pretty, there is no right answer — it’s merely a matter of subjective feelings.
Lewis saw the danger of this philosophy, which rejects thousands of years of universal human wisdom, from St. Augustine to Aristotle to Genesis itself. Lewis summarizes the traditional “doctrine of objective value” as “the belief that certain attitudes are really true, and others really false, to the kind of thing the universe is and the kind of things we are.” He says that “because our approvals and disapprovals are thus recognitions of objective value or responses to an objective order, therefore emotional states can be in harmony with reason … or out of harmony with reason …”
What goes for waterfalls goes for rainbows. The correct, objective response to a rainbow — the emotional state in harmony with reason — is perfectly captured by that 4-year-old’s joy: “Look, Mommy! A rainbow flag!” Don’t train that truth out of her. We cannot divide our children’s world into the right kind of rainbow and the wrong kind of rainbow. We cannot let our subjective feelings take charge of when awe is due based on the perceived intent of the rainbow-bearer. You should never think twice about loving a rainbow.
Once you insert that subjective filter into your young child’s brain — even if you insert it with the best of intentions — the crazed, grooming activists will have won. Our goal is not to raise inhuman conservative machines instead of inhuman leftist machines, but that is what will happen if we start raining on childhood’s colorful imaginative parade.
The best defense is a strong offense. Or, as Lewis writes elsewhere in The Abolition of Man, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments.”
Do all you can to cultivate your children’s moral imagination while they’re still young (here is a great place to start). Keep them as far away as you can from the corrosive enemies of childhood wonder: the modern school and the modern screen. Support activists such as Matt Walsh and Chris Rufo, and do all you can to ban the impossible and harmful ideology of transgenderism. But do not weigh down your child’s capacity for wonder with worldly cares of adult perversion. Otherwise, this wonder may never grow at all.
I understand why parents are worried about rainbows this month. We all know the double game the activists are playing — taking great offense at being called groomers while simultaneously targeting their celebrations at the most child-friendly aesthetic imaginable (I see my young patients wear rainbows and princess dresses year-round; I don’t know if I’ve ever once run into a grown-up casually wearing a similar outfit at the office water cooler).
Like a stranger tossing candy from his windowless van, this month’s pride celebrations are colorful but dangerous. Use this opportunity, however, to teach your children to beware of strangers with candy — not to question the joys of candy itself.
Parents might also be loath to indulge their child’s natural, rightly ordered delight in rainbows by shelling out big bucks to companies that actively corrupt such innocent wonder. Thankfully, good alternatives are available. Influencers like Allie Beth Stuckey show us you don’t have to support the creeps at Target to get a rainbow shirt. Sola Gratia is another theologically faithful source of rainbow merch. You can boycott sinister groomers without boycotting the beautiful sign of God’s covenant.
Lewis, it’s fair to say, would not have been a pride month enthusiast. In his apologetic work Mere Christianity, he calls pride “the essential vice, the utmost evil.” Yet in that same chapter, Lewis also teaches us one crucial way to protect against this “anti-God state of mind” — humbling ourselves through contemplation of God’s creation. After all, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”
So take a lesson from Lewis this month, and look up. Look up in wonder at God’s creation. And yes, that most certainly includes the rainbow.