The Library Basement
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Friendship

Jennifer Wright Knust's argues in a CNN feature that the Bible sends mixed messages on homosexuality. I will not comment on any of her arguments. Rather, I will point out something I find to be rather sad:

Despite common misperceptions, biblical writers could also imagine same-sex intimacy as a source of blessing. For example, the seemingly intimate relationship between the Old Testament's David and Jonathan, in which Jonathan loved David more than he loved women, may have been intended to justify David’s rise as king.

. . .

Thus, Jonathan “took great delight in David,” foiling King Saul’s attempts to arrange for David’s death (1 Samuel 19:1). Choosing David over his father, Jonathan makes a formal covenant with his friend, asking David to remain faithful to him and his descendants.

Sealing the covenant, David swears his devotion to Jonathan, “for he loved him as he loved his own life” (1 Samuel 20:17). When Jonathan is killed, King David composes a eulogy for him, praising his devotion: “greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women” (2 Samuel 1:26).

The author does not come right out and say that she thinks David and Jonathan were gay partners. She does say later in the article that "same-sex intimacy is condemned in a few biblical passages," so the implication is that she intends that phrase to mean homosexuality. In spite of what exactly she means by "intimacy," here is the crucial point: she has coupled love to sexuality. That is, if this story tells us about friendship, intimacy, and love between two men, it must thereby be telling us about their sexuality.

I see this argument and basic line of thinking regularly: any significant level of friendship or love between two men must mean that the men are in a homosexual relationship with one another. It seems that there is simply no room for Platonic love in our culture. It's simply inconceivable. Two men who are that close must be gay. David and Jonathan, Frodo and Sam, Bert and Ernie. Q.E.D.

This is a juvenile concept. I am disappointed to see it employed in Bible interpretation and published in the media. True friendship is too important to be undermined by such silly insinuations. We need to make sure that we affirm love and friendship in their own right.

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Category: Christianity

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