David and Jonathan

I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
more wonderful than that of women.
-2 Samuel 1:26

So. Was David bisexual? We know that he was attracted to women, not merely as a matter of dynastic need but of sexual attraction: his murder of Uriah the Hittite in order to take Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon, shows that. We also know that though David was a servant of the Lord, and blessed, not everything he did was admirable, or suitable for the Sunday School bible story: the way Abigail’s husband died in mysterious circumstances after she bowed down before David is a striking case in point.

It all turns on the meaning of the Hebrew word Ahab, and there we encounter difficulties. There are many gay websites which explain that this is sexual love. A conservative website, which unfortunately I cannot find again, says that while 20% of the Biblical uses of the Hebrew word refer to the love of a man for a woman, far more refer to those of God for God’s people, and therefore the word cannot be used to mean sexual love. However when the Church is referred to as the “Bride” of Christ, this is a curiously physical metaphor.

Gay Christian websites say that this “ahab, ahabah” means sexual love. Conservative Christian websites say that it does not, and even if it did David is not a good role model for Christians. Both seem to be arguing backwards from the result they wish to achieve. Why would the conservatives wish to show that David could not possibly have had gay sex, despite the clear evidence for it, even though they are clear that he was a great man who did a lot of bad things? Because they find gay sex disgusting. Here is one I found when looking for non-copyright images: the sniffing disgust at “homosexualists” comes out in the painstaking analysis of individual words.

It would be nice to persuade the bigoted Christians, but I am not sure it is possible- even, in some cases, where their own children come out as gay. It would prevent their virulent hatred persuading gay people that we are less than normal, that our desires are disgusting and sinful and must be suppressed.  

It is good that people may come to accept our homosexuality without rejecting Biblical Christianity, but for me it is preferable to reject the idea that nothing can be good unless it is accepted in the Bible, or that things the Bible condemns are necessarily bad. That idea asks more of the Bible than the Bible can give. It also places the moral code outside the person, in another authority.

4 thoughts on “David and Jonathan

  1. This one’s quite revolutionary. I feel that with time, the rotten parts of our culture should be desected out for the upliftment of our society. In my country, in most of the places homosexuality is still treated as a sin. But, despite that, I see some subtle changes in the thinking of the people which I hope would spread around soon. A change which would revolutionize the conventional living is the need of the hour. 🙂 A great work indeed.

    Visit mine please. 🙂
    http://www.namratakumari.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/even-if-you-dont-show/

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    • I am grateful for your Indian perspective, because we share so much culturally and yet we are so different. I did visit yours. The line in your poem which I like best is “You slaughtered me so sweetly”- There is a lot of the pain and incredulity that Love can engender in your verse. Thank you for leading me to it.

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  2. Hi, Clare. I recommend the book, “Jonathan Loved David: Homosexuality in Biblical Times” by Tom Horner, PhD. He does textual analysis on a number of passages that sheds a lot of light on the issue.

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    • Thank you for the recommendation.

      I am not sure I want to go much deeper into this, because I am quite sure that God is happy with me trans and lesbian, and no amount of textual analysis of the Bible will either shake that or strengthen it. I do want lgbt people to see past the Evangelicals using the Bible to justify their hate, and see that the Bible is far richer and more complex, and worthy of attention despite what the Evangelicals say.

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