Why I Am Not Flying The Rainbow Flag This Month

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2023/06/30/why-i-am-not-flying-the-rainbow-flag-this-month/

June is “Pride Month” and the rainbow flag is ubiquitous.

It is flying over our government. It is flying at the White House, at the State House, at public buildings many towns and cities of Massachusetts, including Melrose where I have lived for 33 years and Stoneham where I work as a Catholic priest.

It is flying at most educational institutions, public and private; outside the buildings of untold numbers of businesses; over Hollywood and most of the entertainment world; over sports stadiums. I am an avid (though poor) golfer and though I watch very little TV, I do indulge in watching professional golf. At the final Sunday round last week, there it was, the rainbow flag being waved by sports commentator Jim Nantz celebrating the Professional Golf Association’s proud support for Pride Month.

It is even flying at many a Protestant church, including the Episcopal church where I served as a priest for 40 years before converting to Catholicism.

It is really quite remarkable. There are very few parts of American society that have not succumbed to the rainbow revolution. For that matter, most of Western civilization has succumbed. In some sense, the culture wars of the last fifty years, all of which have been about sexual morality, are over. The rainbow revolution has won.

But there remains a faithful opposition, mostly made up of biblically minded Jews and evangelical Protestants, and of course the largest institution in the world, the Roman Catholic Church.

Though I do not support the revolution, I commend the genius of its political strategy. I’m reminded of the enigmatic and strange words of Jesus in Luke 16:8:  “The sons of this age are wiser in their own generation than the sons of light.”

As I walk the streets of my hometown Melrose I see many a house waving a rainbow flag or posting a Black Lives Matter sign with its rainbow collection of value statements like “love is love” and “science is real.” Melrose is a typical Boston suburb — mostly white, mostly upper middle class, not really very “rainbowy.” I feel a bit like Saint Paul when he wandered through the streets of the great city of Athens noticing the multiplicity of statues to the various gods of the Greek pantheon. Scripture also says (in Acts 17:16), “He was provoked in his spirit by the idolatry.”

He addresses the Athenians in his famous Mars Hill sermon:  “I see you are a very religious people!” Whether he was sincere or sarcastic it’s not clear, but I give him the benefit of the doubt and believe he was sincere. He then goes on to proclaim, ”Let me tell you about the God you don’t know who is the true God.”

I find myself sympathetic and even moved by the desire for justice that the rainbow flag represents. But I am provoked in my spirit and do believe that the symbols and slogans are reflective of an idolatry, conscious or unconscious, intentional or unintentional, and a false understanding of justice.

The rainbow revolution is but one piece of the larger movement of “sexual liberation.” This movement in just over 50 years has managed the philosophical deconstruction and cultural dismantling of the sexual morality that has undergirded western civilization since the conversion of the Roman Empire in the fourth century.

The essential core principle of that morality, gleaned primarily from the Sacred Scriptures, is that in the beginning God made us male and female.

Now I am a child of the sixties. My generation started the Sexual Revolution and I enthusiastically engaged in it. Our mottos included “free love,” “make love not war,” “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” The invention of and easy access to the birth control pill supposedly made everything safe and responsible.  We were sexually free.

I have been a priest for more than 50 years, forty as an Episcopalian, the last ten as a Catholic. In that half a century I have spent much of my life trying to minister healing to the casualties of the Sexual Revolution, including myself. A priest, far from being disconnected from reality in some kind of otherworldly spiritual fog, is plunged deeply into the messy complexity of human sin and suffering. The confessional is an extraordinary window offering a true picture of our cultural condition.

That picture is not a pretty picture … it is a picture of broken lives, broken relationships, broken families, broken bodies, broken psyches, broken souls — broken by the lie of sexual freedom.

Saint John Paul II constantly pronounced:  freedom is not doing what you want but doing what is right. There is a moral order to the universe. Michael Cassidy, a South African Anglican priest and anti-apartheid activist, writes:

“A thing is not wrong simply because the Bible says so (as if it were something arbitrary) but rather the Bible says a thing is wrong because it doesn’t work. It is not in accord with the moral fabric of the universe. In other words, biblical morality (whether personal, social, or political) is not an imposed morality but an exposed morality. The Bible simply exposes the morality that is there and says, ‘If you want life to work, then do it this way.’ It is like finding the direction of grain on a piece of wood so that one may plane it correctly. The plane works when it follows the grain that is there.”

God did not give us the Ten Commandments to spoil our fun but to show us the way things work for human flourishing. Such is certainly true in the realm of sexual ethics. In the Catholic faith, that ethic is summed up in the word “chastity”:  fidelity within marriage; abstinence outside marriage. Chastity is a demanding ethic, but it is life giving, and in the end leads to joy.

On the other hand, the ethic of the Sexual Revolution is indulgence. All sexual activities are permitted, with the occasional proviso of “consent.” (But consent is a slippery word, as the #me too movement has revealed. I am convinced that if we tried to accurately and effectively establish an ethic of consent in all the complexities of the dynamics of human sexual interaction, we would have to reinvent the institution of marriage.)

So who are the casualties of the rainbow revolution?

Let’s begin with our children. Speaking of consent, when is a child old enough to consent? Our children are being sexualized at earlier and earlier ages. Exposure to pornography begins on average at 8 years old. And we are not talking about Playboy centerfolds but the most vile and explicit hardcore Internet pornography. Our children are indulging in sexual activities in junior high school and even earlier. There are whole new universes of sexual interaction like sexting and naked selfies and phone sex. Venereal disease is rampant among teen-agers and young adults.

I recall being invited to speak to a church forum on helping parents educate their children about sex. I was the second speaker. The first was an epidemiologist who worked for the state public health board. His subject was the hidden epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases. By the time he finished — graphs, statistics, and vivid descriptions of the array of diseases — my job, to make the case for a traditional Christian sexual ethic, was easy.

But even more tragically, our children are the real victims of the collapse of marriage. The sociological evidence is overwhelming that children of divorce are diminished in almost every category of wellness. Fatherlessness paints an even grimmer picture.

John Blankenhorn in the introduction of his 1996 book Fatherless America writes:  “Tonight about 40% of American children will go to sleep in homes in which their fathers do not live. Before they reach the age of 18 more than half of our nation’s children are likely to spend at least a significant portion of their childhoods living apart from their fathers. Never before in this country have so many children been voluntarily abandoned by their fathers. Never have so many children grown up without knowing what it means to have a father. Fatherless is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation.  It is the leading cause of declining child well-being in our society. It is also the engine driving our most urgent social problems from crime to adolescent pregnancy to child sexual abuse to domestic violence against women.”

And then there is abortion.

Since the legalization of abortion in the United States 64 million unborn children have been killed, victims of the sexual revolution — 10 times more than the Nazi Holocaust. The worldwide numbers are even more staggering. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 73 million abortions take place per year. Hidden in this general slaughter we have the particular class of victims of prenatal testing, which reveals our culture’s deepest prejudices:  the handicapped and female babies (since boys are much more preferred in many cultures). In the United States of America close to 40 percent of all abortions are African-American babies. This obviously racist and genocidal reality would warm the heart of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.  She was motivated in her mission to legalize contraception, abortion, and sterilization by the problem of the underclass, especially what she called the “Negro problem.” In New York City there are more abortions than live births of black children. If this is not racist genocide, what is?   Where is the voice of Black Lives Matter about these black lives? Silence is violence.

And now the latest letter in the alphabet of the sexual revolution, gender dysphoria. This irrationality, like a contagious psychological virus, is spreading among our impressionable and confused adolescents, especially young girls. And the response of the rainbow educators and health professionals is to separate the troubled youth from their “unsympathetic parents” and give them potentially dangerous hormonal drugs and surgical mutilation.

As for the adult victims of the Sexual Revolution, they have been the constant presence in my pastoral ministry for 50 years. They include men and women abandoned by their spouse in no-fault divorce. Women profoundly grieved and broken by post-traumatic syndrome after abortion. Men (and increasingly women) feeling ashamed and helpless over their addiction to pornography. Persons unable to connect and commit, degraded and damaged by years of the hook-up culture of casual sex.

Youth who squandered twenty years of contracepted sex now spend another twenty in a fertility clinic, desperately yearning for a child.  The sadness is great and extensive.

Beyond the damage done to human beings there is the corruption of institutions. The medical establishment began to succumb to what Pope John Paul II called the culture of death when it dispensed with the ancient Hippocratic Oath which every doctor was required to recite as he entered the healing profession. The Hippocratic Oath, of course, contained prohibitions of abortion and euthanasia. Another ancient and fundamental principle of the Hippocratic Oath was “first do no harm.” Here again the ideology of gender fluidity encourages a destructive assault on and even mutilation of a natural healthy body.

The psychiatric establishment has rewritten their diagnostic manuals not because of new science but because of new ideology. What was disorder and pathology is now choice and preference. And the legal and political establishment have been corrupted to reinvent the very foundational institutions of our society. Thus, for example, marriage, the very cornerstone of society, was meant above all to secure the protection and wellbeing of women and children. But it has been redesigned to accommodate and approve any number of persons of whatever orientation who want to live in a sexual relationship.

Alas, even the church, called to be the moral conscience of society, has been corrupted by the sexual revolution. Most mainline Protestant churches have reinterpreted the Biblical ethic so as to essentially abandon it. Even the Roman Catholic Church, as the sexual scandals of recent times have manifested, though officially retaining a traditional sexual ethic, has succumbed to sexual moral corruption. Sadly, the hierarchy of the church has yet to be truly honest and transparent about these scandals. Responsible research commissioned and paid for by the Church itself has revealed that 80 percent of the so-called child abuse cases were not child abuse in the literal sense — of the molestation of little boys and girls — but were in fact homosexual predation on post-pubescent boys committed by male priests.

At the root of it all is a spiritual corruption and idolatry, the worship of a false god. That false god is sex. Malcolm Muggeridge quips, “Sex is the mysticism of materialism.” This false god proclaims that sexual activity is essential to human happiness and every person has a right to sexual fulfillment. The worship of this idol is as ancient as the Bible. Baal, Astarte, Eros, Dionysius, Priapus:  the ancient polytheistic pantheons were filled with the gods of sex and fertility. Many of these gods demanded ritual prostitution and even child sacrifice. But the Jewish God was different.  The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Moses, and later the God of Jesus Christ and the Christian church, invites us not to worship sex but to order it rightly. Chastity is the traditional Christian word that describes the virtues of rightly ordered sexuality. This is one of the unique features of the Biblical God over and against the polytheistic milieu of the surrounding cultures and religions. This God who created a differentiated humanity of male and female gave sex a holy order. “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” This commandment is not a repressive law or a negation of human sexuality. It is divine wisdom and holy law for human flourishing.  Idolatries are always filled with lies and false promises which lead to death — spiritual, physical, and psychological. The true God gives us joy and abundant life.

The good news is that many are coming to the church, coming to the faith, coming to Christ, coming as the wounded casualties of the sexual revolution:


Post-abortive women coming to be healed, forgiven, and given hope that they will see their children again.

Men addicted since youth to pornography coming desiring freedom and fidelity in their relationship to their wives.

The divorced seeking healing from their broken hearts having often been abandoned by their spouses who have run off with a new lover or to explore their new sexual identities.

Adult children of divorce, their souls fractured by the destruction of their home, discovering the healing love of a heavenly family.

Those who have struggled with same-sex attraction committing themselves to the life of chastity and obedience to the moral teaching of the church.

Those fearful for their children because of the dark confused rainbow world of gender ideology and the sexualization of the young.


All are seeking a sacred view of sex in the divine order.

Perhaps you are such a person. Come to this strange and oldest countercultural society of the Christian church! Here we worship a celibate man named Jesus who we believe was not only perfect God but perfect Man. We believe he is the perfect model of human wholeness, psychological and spiritual and moral. Come to a faith community that venerates this strange contradiction of a virgin mother.

Come to a spiritual universe that holds the sexual act to be sacramental and reserved for the lifelong indissoluble marital covenant of a man and a woman.

Come to a spiritual society that deeply honors the vocation of single celibate men and women in thousands of consecrated communities of religious brothers and sisters and priests.

Come to a God who loves you, forgives you, and offers you not only abundant life in this world … but eternal life in the next.


Father Jürgen Liias served for forty years as an Episcopal priest in various churches in the Boston area.  In 2013, through a special provision of Pope Benedict XVI for married Protestant ministers, he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston. He serves now as a senior priest on the staff of St. Patrick’s Church in Stoneham, Massachusetts.


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