Smashing Another ‘Pride’ Myth: No, David and Jonathan Were Not Gay Lovers

By Michael Brown Published on June 14, 2023

Have you ever heard the claim that David and Jonathan, of biblical fame, were “gay lovers”? This, of course, is a blatant falsehood, as numerous Bible scholars have demonstrated over the years. After all, the biblical text is quite clear.

Jonathan became a married man, with children. And, much more significantly, David married numerous women, almost destroying his whole life because of his lust for a married woman named Bathsheba. He ended up committing adultery with her, getting her pregnant, and then killing her husband (see 2 Samuel 11). This is not what gay men do!

Other biblical scholars have pointed out that the whole testimony of the Hebrew Bible is exclusively heterosexual — meaning, only heterosexual relationships are countenanced, let alone blessed — while any references to homosexual behavior are negative in the extreme.

Quite obviously, this same Bible would not paint an openly gay picture about one of its heroes. But of course!

Obviously, all this public kissing was not in the least bit sexual!

That’s why there are even gay theologians who recognize that David and Jonathan were not gay lovers. And they recognize that, when David said, in eulogizing his slain friend, that Jonathan’s love was better than that of women, he didn’t mean they had better sex together. God forbid. He was simply saying that the covenant loyalty and depth of brotherly love they had together surpassed the love he had known with other women (2 Samuel 1:24). That’s how close their pure and holy bond was.

But They Kissed!

But what of the fact that the Bible says that they kissed? I actually addressed this in a lengthy endnote (one of 1,500 endnotes) in my 700-page book A Queer Thing Happened to America.

I now produce that endnote here for you in full.

Texts cited to allege that Jonathan and David were gay lovers include 2 Sam 18:3-4, “Jonathan and David made a pact, because Jonathan loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the cloak and tunic he was wearing and gave them to David, together with his sword, bow, and belt” [which was a covenantal exchange and pledge of loytaly] and 1 Sam 20:41 (when David has to flee for his life from King Saul, Jonathan’s father), “They kissed each other and wept together; David wept the longer.”

For a comprehensive refutation of a gay reading of these (and other passages), see Robert Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, where he demonstrates clearly how such a reading of these texts is unthinkable from an ancient, Hebraic point of view and totally uncalled for in terms of what the biblical text actually says.

Regarding the act of kissing (as distinguished from “making out”), note that kissing was a common way of saying hello or goodbye in the ancient Near East, as it is in many cultures to this day. Furthermore, if all the kisses that the Bible recorded were interpreted in sexual terms, then Isaac would have been erotically involved with his own son (see Gen 27:26, “Then his father Isaac said to him, ‘Come here, my son, and kiss me.’”), Laban would have been erotically involved with his nephew Jacob (see Gen 29:13, “He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home”), Laban would have been erotically involved with his grandchildren and daughters (see Gen 31:55, “Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them”), Esau would have been erotically involved with his brother Jacob (see Gen 33:4, “But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him”), Joseph would have been erotically involved with all his brothers (see Gen 45:15, “And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them”), Jacob would have been erotically involved with his grandsons (see Gen 48:10, “So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them”), and Joseph would have been erotically involved with his just-deceased father Jacob (see Gen 50:1, “Joseph threw himself upon his father and wept over him and kissed him”) – and these are just examples from the first book of the Bible, Genesis!

Obviously, all this public kissing was not in the least bit sexual! In the next book of the Bible, Exodus, we see Moses kissing his brother Aaron and his father-in-law Jethro (Exod 4:27; 18:7). For a few examples of non-relatives kissing, see Samuel the prophet kissing Saul (1 Sam 10:1), David kissing Jonathan (1 Sam 20:41), Absalom the prince kissing all who would approach him asking him to adjudicate on their behalf (2 Sam 15:5), David the king kissing the old man Barzillai (2 Sam 19:39), and Joab kissing Amasa (2 Sam 20:9).

Kissing as a form of greeting was so customary in New Testament times that Paul and Peter taught the believers to “Greet one another with a holy kiss” (Rom 16:16; see also 1 Cor 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12; 1 Thes 5:26; cf. 1 Pet 5:13), the ancient equivalent of a handshake, and presumably men with men and women with women. Note also that, when the Bible wanted to speak of a sensual kiss, it certainly knew how, as in the bride’s words in Song of Solomon 1:2, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth–for your love is more delightful than wine,” or as seen in the context of Prov 7:13 – read the whole chapter!).

Let this ridiculous myth be laid to rest once and for all.

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David and Jonathan were as heterosexual as they come. And heterosexual men, just like heterosexual women, can enjoy significant, deep, same-sex friendships that are 100% non-sexual and non-romantic. Thank God for that.

 

Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Why So Many Christians Have Left the Faith. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

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