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King David and Homosexuality
by Cate Russell-Cole
7/14/2015 / Bible Studies
1 Samuel 1:26:
"I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
You have been very pleasant to me.
Your love to me was more wonderful
Than the love of women."
A question I see debated is whether or not David was bisexual or homosexual. Despite many opinions to the contrary, I am going to say, no. Why? Because of his cultural manner of communication and because both men are of outstanding God-fearing character. Thirdly, homosexual acts (not people) are openly stated as being an abomination in the Bible. God could not have allowed someone undertaking those acts to lead a nation, as the spiritual head of the nation, which the Jewish kings were. In addition, every one of David's sins came with a penalty which involved life being lost. He was confronted and punished for his sin with BathSheba and their son died and he was confronted and punished for the census he never should have ordered and thousands of people died as a result. King-sized sins had king-sized repercussions which were harsh.
Homosexual acts incurred the death sentence, which he narrowly escaped because of BathSheba. Had David had an affair with Jonathan, he would have been severely dealt with, if not, dethroned and killed. The Davidic Covenant which led to the Messiah coming from his line could not have been established from David, under such circumstances. This is spiritual common sense. A covenant is a serious matter, especially one of such magnitude and the Lord would not have been able to slacken his discipline of David and compromise the law.
What I see here is David guilty of being, perhaps, too honest, or wording his lament over Jonathan's death very badly for our western ears. It is well worth noting the figurative and poetic language that David used in the Psalms was traditional to his culture and when reading verses such as these, Western society easily misinterprets the meaning based on our current norms. This part of the Song of the Bow sounds as though David is describing his relationship with Jonathan in a way which indicates sexual intimacy. This is a cultural misunderstanding.
In **Manners and Customs of Bible Lands by Fred H. Wight, Fred points out that "The Oriental frequently makes statements that to the Westerner sound like uncalled-for exaggeration.... (we) must remember the fondness of the Oriental for the hyperbole." and "The Oriental considers it to be perfectly proper to talk about anything that is natural in the presence of men, women, and children. And this is done in refined circles. A respectable woman (or man) from the Holy Land cannot understand why some critics of the Bible have condemned the Scriptural mention of certain matters deemed wrong for Westerners to talk about." ** I have written before about how David never held back from expressing his emotions, which is in line with his culture. In his time, a friendship between men could be expressed with as much affection without raising eyebrows.
The Bible always calls out homosexual acts as wrong. Had David been in a physical relationship with Jonathan, by the precedents already set in David's story, he would have been called out for it by a prophet and punished. God never let David's most severe sins go unpunished.
As for the wording, ...your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women." Like any husband, David would have felt let down and harassed at times, by the complications of his relationships with his wives; and like many men, he would have felt a strong bond with other men who tend to be less demanding and complicated. How many men do you know who go to a friend's place to watch sport when the heat is on with the Mrs? Men, especially on the battlefield, bond very deeply. They rely on each other for survival and that can build connections which are equally as strong as those of husband and wife, if not more so. If you doubt this, research why veterans miss war and watch this video by Sebastian Junger on TED Talks. It is exceptionally helpful. https://www.ted.com/talks/sebastian_junger_why_veterans_miss_war?language=en Romans 5:7 says "Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die." In combat, men shield their comrades in this way. Don't underestimate that bond's power.
David was very normal for the type of life he lived. Close friends are more valuable than all of a king's wealth and Jonathan was one of them. When reading about Jonathan, I've been amazed by his unselfishness. He fought with King Saul, his father, as he wanted David to take the throne. That was HIS inheritance, his chance of fame and power but he was willing to relinquish it to God's choice of King, who he could clearly discern from the moment David killed Goliath.
How many crown princes or monarchs have given their throne to a better suited man? I did the research. None. Going through all the lists of historical abdications, and there are a lot, kings stepped down because of illness, revolts against their reign, or because they were forced out. In modern times, where kingdoms became republics, they stepped down. But nowhere did a king ever give up his throne to someone who was not their son. Not once, not ever. (Correct me if you know I am wrong.)
It leaves me with the deepest respect for Jonathan and the greatest respect for a special friendship, built during hard times.
Please read Jonathan: Valiant Role Model of Faith, for an in-depth study of Jonathan and his relationship with David. http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33653
*Manners and Customs of Bible Lands by Fred H. Wight, Copyright 1953 Read it here: http://www.baptistbiblebelievers.com/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=qDQAYzDf0WM%3D
** When You Just Lose It - Masculinity and Keeping it Real
For more information on King David, please have a meander through the King David Project Facebook page, our web site and our blog, Masada Rain. The blog houses many useful resources on studying, David plus bits and pieces of information which dont neatly fit into article form. Please ignore dates and use the search feature to find what you want. The web site has resources on Davids family tree, life and the Psalms. All content is creative commons and non-profit. Sharing of the projects work would be deeply appreciated.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fromdespairtodeliverance
Masada Rain Blog: https://masadarain.wordpress.com
The project web site: http://cateartios.wix.com/kingdavidproject
This article by Cate Russell-Cole is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Written in Australian English.
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