Divine Love: Jonathan & David
Read More: Faith & Spirituality
As numerous states still deny the right of marriage to same-sex couples, conservatives often use religion and scripture as an excuse as justification. Some claim that marriage is a one man-one woman insitution. But is this the case in scripture? When is marriage clearly defined? With Jacob, Rachel, and Leah? Or perhaps when David has Uriah killed, and marries Bathsheba? Are these not examples of Biblical marriages?
We must also remember that the “until death do us part” marriage vow takes origin in a pledge between two women: Ruth and Naomi (albeit a pledge from a widow to her also-widowed mother-in-law). In fact, this pledge from a woman to another woman offers what can be viewed as some of the most romantic language in the Hebrew Bible:
“Do not press me to leave
where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
Where you die I will die – there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!” (Ruth 1:16-17)
Is this love, this devotion any less valid than any other love?
Then there is the story of David and Jonathan, two young men who appear in scripture. David is a well-known figure, best known for his defeat of Goliath and his adultery with Bathsheba. It is easy to overlook his friendship with Jonathan, the son of Saul. David, a threat to Saul’s throne, is the target of murder plots, which only serve to make his relationship with Jonathan even stronger. With their first encounter, the depth of their relationship is apparent:
“When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Then Jonathan made a convenant with DAavid because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.” (I Samuel 18:1-5).
One cannot deny the beauty of this passage. Isn’t the love Jonathan shows for David the love we all seek in our lives? The bond between the men is strong, so strong that Jonathan willingly chooses David over his father, who lashes out at him with, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness?” (I Samuel 20:30). For choosing the man that he so dearly loves, Jonathan has earned the wrath of his father.
Finally the men are separated:
“David rose from beside the stone heap and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He bowed three times, and they kissed each other, and wept with each other; David wept the more. Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, since both of us have sworn in the name of the LORD, saying, “The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants, for ever.” He got up and left and Jonathan went into the city.” (I Samuel 20:41-42)
Though the men are separated, David remembers Jonathan when the latter dies, “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.” (II Samuel 1:26). As he says this, David acknowledges that his love for Jonathan was very great. It is easy to see this as a story of love between brothers, but it is difficult for some to see this as a story for love between men. Do they not share a deep, committed love? As Joni Mitchell sang, “Love is touching souls.” It is evident David touched Jonathan’s soul, and Jonathan touched David’s soul. They were are two, strong men, knit together spiritually. Jonathan denies his father in favor of his love for David.
To me this story illustrates the love that two men, or two women, can share. I hope that we all find the David to our Jonathan, and I hope one day people will realize that the Bible advocates all forms of love, directly or indirectly, and does not express a clear Biblical view of marriage. After all, all loves are valid, regardless of gender.
Nicholas T.B.C Artrip. 19. Gay Jew. VCU student, and Alpha Epsilon Pi brother. My life is a cabaret of religion and disco trash.
A few weeks ago, I was in Chesterfield County Circuit Court with a church member and her family. The case concerned her rights to visitation with the daughter she and her previous partner had birthed and raised for the child’s first six years (the girl is now 10). The partner is the birth mother and [...]April 15, 2012
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