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Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love

"King David was a homosexual." That's what many in the gay community believe because of his strong loving friendship with King Saul's son, Jonathan.  Here's the way one website devoted to trying to reconcile homosexuality and Christianity puts it:

Many gays believe that Jonathan and David were same sex lovers, based on the way God presents their story in scripture and based on the Hebrew words used to describe their relationship...Scripture speaks in glowing terms of Jonathan and David’s loving intimacy, exchanging clothing, embracing, weeping together, hugging and kissing each other.

One of the main passages that is used to defend such a view is David's lament for Saul and Jonathan after they are killed on Mount Gilboa.  There David says of his closest friend, "I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women." (2 Samuel 1:26)

Well, one of the major problems here is that poetry is hard.  People go bat-crazy about poetic language in the Bible, either taking it too woodenly literal (which completely defeats the point of poetry) or else running to weird extremes with it.  Poetry is meant to be amorphous, exaggerated, filled with metaphors and similes and anthropomorphism and onomatopoeia and all of those other words that you never paid attention to in English class.  Poetry is meant to conjure up feelings through images, and this is often accomplished by using extreme comparisons.  Many Bible scholars, for example, have totally missed the point of passages like Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 and jumped to the conclusion that those texts must be about Satan, because no human king could ever aspire to the heights of glory like those passages portray, even though the texts themselves claim to be about human kings and kingdoms.

When we read that David claimed that his friend's love "surpassed the love of women", we need not - as those in the homosexual community have done - jump to the conclusion that David was saying, "Your sex was better than what I got with my wife."  That's what a fleshly mind wants to think when it is steeped in sin and looking for any kind of Biblical support that will lessen the guilt that it feels.  In other words, that is just purely an attempt to justify one's own sin through finding a similar example in David.

What David is actually saying, however, is that the love and dear friendship that he shared with Jonathan was of a more intense variety than he shared with any woman.  He was able to communicate more of his heart to his male friend than he ever was able to do with Abigail or Ahinoam or Michal or Bathsheba.  That shouldn't be hard to understand.  Many of us have experienced deeper camaraderie with friends of the same sex than we have with our significant others of the opposite gender.  So David is merely saying that he felt closer to Jonathan than he ever felt to a woman.  That's really not even that uncommon.

Rather than go the foolish route here and try to understand David's relationship with Jonathan in a way that is directly opposed to all that God has ever said about same-sex unions (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Romans 1:26-27), we should rather be encouraged to have this kind of close brotherhood (or sisterhood) with those who share the same faith in our awesome God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The apostle John - the disciple Jesus loved - wrote frequently about this love: "Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is nocause for stumbling." (1 John 2:10), "For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another." (1 John 3:11), "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." (1 John 4:11)

In other words, genuine believers should try to cultivate the kind of love that David and Jonathan shared.  We ought not to be afraid to open up emotionally to our brothers, or be afraid to embrace, or be afraid to talk like this about our love for one another.  In fact, even our love for our spouses - if those spouses are also believers - should be in a very great sense "surpassing the love of women".  Believing men should love their wives as sisters in Christ, and the deep emotional and spiritual attachment that they feel in sharing the same Savior should surpass the physical bliss that they experience in sexual union.  This sentiment should not be rare or strange in the body of Christ, but it should be the norm.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."  - Jesus