David & Jonathan - A Gay love story
The love story between David and Jonathan almost 3000 years ago has been a source of debate between the Christian Right and Gay Christian Organizations. It was almost certainly a Gay relationship, a tragic tale of a same sex relationship which were not meant to be due to the conflicting political situation but they nevertheless proceeded into a covenant relationship of commitment to each other. This relationship is a clear example of God's blessing upon homosexual relationship and gives biblical legitimacy to Gay marriages. Homosexuality has existed then and till this very day in the Jewish community in Israel. Even in Jerusalem today for which the scene was set, any true Jerusalemite knows that the city's Independence park has become a meeting place for Jewish homosexuals searching for partners. On a Saturday night, the "park scene" is particularly fruitful. It is not Jerusalem's best kept secret, it has been in fact known for many years. So is the relationship between David and Jonathan have not been the best of secrets in the bible and despite many attempts by Christians and Jewish leaders to downplay and to sanitise this relationship as platonic brotherly love, it nevertheless has all the hallmarks of a wonderful Gay relationship. Let us begin.
It was love at first sight between David and Jonathan. In 1 Sam 16:18,21, as a young lad, David attended regularly at King Saul's court to play harp for the king. David must have known Jonathan even then. Some years later, in 1 Sam 18:1, now both yound men of age, when David single handedly defeated the Philistines and after the victory appeared before King Saul. The relationship between David and Jonathan was rekindled again. Jonathan fell in love with David at first sight. (1 Sam 18:1). Many Gays would have, for David was very handsome, and slim. (1 Sam 17:42,43).
The relationship between Jonathan and David was like a tragic love story. His father, King Saul, was concerned about the rising popularity and treat that David posed to his rule. Whereas his son, Jonathan loved David. . In 1 Sam 18:3, Jonathan entered into a covenant bond with David much alike our modern day marriage. Just as a man would exchange marriage vows and wedding rings with a woman, Jonathan striped himself and exchanged robes with David (in 1 Sam 18:4). This was not a platonic but a sexual relationship that very much followed the custom then between Gays to commit fully to each other for the robes and military gear representing their lives and manhood. This love and commitment was obviously an "open secret". In 1 Sam 18:26, David became "family" through his marriage with Jonathan's sister, Michal, not because he loved her but because he was pleased to become the son-in law of the King. In 1 Sam 18:21 when King Saul gave Michal's hand of marriage to David, he publicly announced that David is now his son in law for for a second occasion which leaves us no doubt that the first refers to David's relationship with Jonathan.
As David became more succesful in military campaigns, his popularity and fame rosed. Saul became even more jealous and afraid of David's threat to his throne. The relationship between Jonathan and David was brought into focus in the height of the struggle between Saul and David. In 1 Sam 19:1, Saul wanted to kill David and summoned his servants and Jonathan to be more aquianted with David for an opportunity to kill him. But Jonathan was in love with David and refused to do so. Instead, knowing that one day David would prevailed, Jonathan inisisted that David make a re-commitment of their earlier covenant bond to affirm that their two families be joined forever and once David became king, he would protect Joanthan and his family. It was a covenant based on love just like a marriage covenant, for in Jonathan was so much in love with David (1 Sam 20:17).
As Saul's plans to kill David now become increasingly disrupted by his son Jonathan, he became extremely angry. In 1 Sam 20:30, he cursed his son and denounced him for having been in a sexual relationship with David. The word "confusion" is used in the Old Testament to mean sexual sin (Leviticus ), as is the term "nakedness" used to connote sexual sin throughout the Old Testament. It is interesting that Saul makes the reference to "sin" while the Lord was not only unconcerned about the behavior of the two young men, but continued to support and bless them..Reading 1 Sam 20:30,31 in modern language, it would have read " How can you fall in love with a man, and more especially with David your opponent. Quickly bring him to me and I will kill him". Down through history, Gays have faced many similar arguments - from Fathers embarassed by their son's Gay relationship:-
- It is a shame
(1 Sam 20:41 NKJV) As soon as the lad had gone, David arose from a place toward the south, fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down three times. And they kissed one another; and they wept together, but David more so.
This was the final warning. There was no way that Jonathan and David can stay together. In a secretly held meeting at night, they met together for the last time. Knowing that due to the animosity between Saul and David, they may never meet again and with the entire army pursuing David, he would surely be captured and be killed. In 1 Sam 20:41, David and Jonathan fell onto the ground and they hugged and kissed each other incessisantly until David was sexually aroused that they had sex for a final occasion.
Later, the news of Jonathan's death brought much sadness for David. Their love was so intimate and wonderful. It was more than just a normal friendship between men. It was much more. Their love together and initimacy both emotionally and sexually exceeded that even found between men and women. It was Jonathan who pursued David, and David who responded in kind. David was never interested in Micah, for his one love was for Jonathan, his one and all. It was truly, a model for a marriage relatiohsip. Just like a marriage between a man and a woman, the covenant between Jonathan and David extended to their offsprings. David took good care of Jonathan's son Mephibosheth after Jonathan died and treated him just like his own son with a special place in his court (2 Sam 9:11-13). This is truly touching for Mephibosheth's existence was actually a treat to David's rule.
Many years later, David subsequently now have many wives and concubines. In the culture of the day, women were properties to be owned and to bear an heir and not necesarrily for love. It was not an equal retionship. David had many wives and concubines as part of his duty as king to show his greatness and to provide many heirs to his kingdom. Is it, after all, uncommon for a homosexual person to marry out of a sense of duty or responsibility, or to fulfill the desire to have children, or to please the family, friends or church leaders?
With a preference for men, David found his love for Jonathan to be wonderful, passing the love of women. His one true love was Jonathan. To God this was a wonderful relationship which God continue to bless. God could have easily stepped in if it was 'sinful' just as He did when David committed adultery with Bathsheba but He did not.Those who refuse to entertain the possibility of God blessing the homosexual relationship between David and Jonathan close out both textual evidence and the historical background of the story. Modern prejudice against homosexuality is a force that overcomes many of the most scholarly and sincere and causes them to refuse to see what they don't want to see in the scriptures when it can't be twisted to support their prejudice.
A more fundamental message of the story of David and Jonathan is that God did not consider them not as Gay or straight for God does not look at "outward appearances whether a person is born Gay or straight, coloured or white, thin or fat, ... but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7). What was the heart of David? It was a heart that desired to be in the presence of God, in the presence of the Spirit of God. In the vast landscape of the country side where David reared the sheep, in the many long hours of quiet communion before God, there rose a spirit who understood and knew God not just as an acquaintence but as a close friend in relationship. David entered into many relationships. His relationship with Jonathan was pure in the sight of God, and in Jonathan he found true love. But the complexities of court politics, stress, responsibility, turned him away from the youthful innocense, into the harsh realities and abuse of power that came when he ultimately became King. Years later, after being so used to power and corruption, and away from the humble and simple sheperd lifestyle and close communion with God, David fell into adultery. David repented and sought God for he remembered once again the close relationship that he had with God, and the resultant joy and confort He had by the Holy Spirit. (Ps 51:11,12). It was in repentance that David came back into God's blessing hence into God's plans to bring forth Christ through his seed.
Out of the line of David, came Jesus, the Messiah and our saviour. Without Jonathan, without the Gay relationship that Jonathan had with David which protected David from the plans of Saul to kill David, the linenage of David may have never existed. We could have had an entire different line from Abraham to Jesus, yet God chose David, and He chose to honour the same sex relationship between David and Jonathan, to be part of His master plan to give us Jesus.
As Gays, we are unlikely to have descendents. But as Gay Christians, God has a plan for everyone of us. God will honor our relationship with Him, God will honor the relationship that we have with our partners even though it is of the same sex. Even though naturally we don't have genetic descendents, God will give Gays who seek after Him, a special name, a name which will not be blot out because we do not have any descendents to make an impact down through history via our lineage, because God will make our lives count for eternity even though we do not see it now just as Jonathan and David would not be able to see how their love for each other would one day impact the world through Jesus Christ.
If in this story, Jonathan's affection was for a woman and not David, this would have been considered as the greatest love story and definetly not that of brotherly or sisterly love or love between friends. We read the bible more often than not to justify our pre-conceived doctrinal position. But the writer of Samuel through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit was not in any way ashamed of this love relationship neither should we. We have good reasons to deny this for David was one of the greatest heroes in the bible. But in a world where Gays have no rights even to marry, we now have a beautiful scene of a Gay marriage in the bible. On the altar of gay marriage, our "Christian Right" and "Focus on Family" militants would have protested. "They should not marry as they are both men". "It is against moral values". "It is against family". God overulled and God blessed this relationship to the extent that the fruits of it became a blessing to the whole world in protecting the line of David which ushered in Christ our saviour.