“… the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself… Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.”

(1 Sam 18:1-3)

“And they kissed each other… Jonathan said to David, “Go in safety, inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.’”

(1 Sam 20:41-42)

“… Jonathan,

You have been very pleasant to me.

Your love to me was more wonderful

Than the love of women.”

(2 Sam 1:26)

The above passages highlight a few of the key moments in the relationship between David and Jonathan in the Old Testament.  And I think that it is clear that there was a deep, passionate, and committed relationship going on between these two men.

Now, before I go too far, I’d like to allow for a couple of caveats.  For one, these passages are very intentionally selected from their context.  If you read the larger story, there are all sorts of wars and battles going on – people cutting off foreskins and hooking up with multiple women – so, not your stereotypical “gay” stuff.  Secondly, I do not believe that David and Jonathan were gay.  These passages have often been used to try to argue that these two men were engaged in a sexual relationship with one another.  However, extrapolating these verses to make that point, I think, either overlooks or ignores the Ancient Near Eastern context in which men could do things like kiss and embrace one another without all of the hyper-sexualized connotations that our culture places on such things.1

But, even bearing the context of these verses in mind, you just can’t get away from the passionate and intimate relationship that these two men shared.  And this leads me to a similar relationship that I had the opportunity to witness a few weeks ago.

If you remember from a past post, one of my best friends got engaged to his boyfriend.  Well, the two recently tied the knot, and guess who got to be my best friend’s best man?  This guy!2  And I have to say that it was hands-down one of the most beautiful ceremonies that I’ve ever experienced.

Now, as many of you already know, I’m not fully on board with gay sex itself.  However, I feel as though the conversation about same-sex relationships almost always gets couched in the discussion of what happens in the bedroom.  And certainly there is a time and place for that conversation.  But I think that before we ever start talking about what Adam and Steve are doing behind closed doors, we need to first talk about what they’re doing at the altar.  And what they are not doing is trying to tear down the fabric of American society, defiantly rebel against God, or retroactively try to justify a twisted desire to do the nasty in another guy’s pooper.3

What they are doing is participating in one of the most fundamental and universal of all human activities – committing one’s life to another person as an expression of our inherent need for companionship.  This need is so foundational to the human experience that even the ancient Hebrews understood it as part of what it means to be human, even in a world without sin (Gen 2:18).  And this, I think, is where a lot of Bible-believing folk make the first mistake in how they engage the topic of homosexuality.  They would like to say, “Yes, you are made in the image of God, who is Triune and inherently relational.  Yes, you have a foundational need for companionship.  Yes, committing your life to another in a covenant is a beautiful motif running throughout Scripture.”  But then they feel compelled for one reason or another to turn around and say, “But you cannot fulfill this part of being human if you’re doing it with someone that has the same plumbing as you.”

But is that right?  Is that really putting our priorities in the right order?  I mean, is the deep, intimate, personal, covenant relationship that David and Jonathan shared invalid and evil just because they were both dudes?  And what if biblical deconstructionists are correct, and these two men were in fact porking one another?  Would that be enough to render their committed relationship essentially flawed?

I think that no matter where you land on the issue, it is important that we keep the main thing the main thing.  And the main thing is that humans are inescapably built for deep, intimate, covenant relationships.  Whether or not that manifests itself in sexual intimacy is a secondary conversation, which we can certainly have.  But, let’s not put the cart before the horse.4

1: In fact, many cultures around the world today still allow for expressions of physical intimacy between male friends without presuming a homosexual relationship.

2: And by “this guy” I mean me, just in case you can’t see my thumbs pointing at myself.

3: If my use of language in reference to gay sex seems vulgar, please know that I am doing this intentionally in satiric response to an argument against gay marriage that focuses on the "yuck factor" of it.

4: For a fantastic approach to LGBT relationships that focuses on the primacy of intimate, covenant relationships without sex, be sure to check out the blog, Spiritual Friendship. You’ll be glad you did.

| Scripture | 6 comments so far

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Rocky Munoz
Jesus-follower, husband, daddy, amateur theologian, former youth pastor, nerd, and coffee snob. Feel free to email me at almostheresy@gmail.com and follow me on Twitter (@rockstarmunoz)

6 Comments

  1. Nick, November 26, 2014 at 3:19 pm:

    I appreciate your willingness to discuss the issue and be open. I’m slightly put off by the candor and slight vulgarity in your discussion of sex between men. It just comes off in a bad light I feel.

    I would also like to ask a question. There’s no denying that making love is part of the covenantal ratuonship shared by a husband and wife. That’s expected in the Bible even. If were going to allow for men and men (or women and women) our blessing of the relationship why do we draw the line? Why wokle God draw the line?

    • Rocky Munoz, November 28, 2014 at 9:36 pm:

      Nick, thank you so much for your comment. Part of my use of crass language when referring to gay sex was actually in satiric response to an argument against gay marriage that focuses on the “yuck factor” of it. Some people believe that if they can get society to focus on the part of the issue that seems most disgusting, then they will have caused enough of a gag reflex to get people to reject it altogether. As I mentioned in this post, however, I think that (along with many other approaches) is starting from the wrong place.

      Now, that being said, while I whole-heartedly affirm everyone’s inherent design toward intimate, covenant relationships, I’m still not on board with gay sex. Sex can be a beautiful expression of love, but despite what our over-sexualized culture has engrained in our heads, we can indeed have deep, intimate, committed, covenant relationships without it. With that in mind, I feel that I can maintain a sense of consistence in affirming the covenant relationship that my LGBT friends enter into without affirming what they choose to do in the bedroom.

      Hopefully that makes sense. Feel free to push back though – that’s how iron sharpens iron. :)

  2. Nick, November 30, 2014 at 12:00 am:

    Would it be possible to add a footnote about the satirical nature of your crassness so it’s understood better within it’s proper context?

    I don’t disagree that you can have meaningful relationships without sex. There’s no denying that. However, how can you compare a sexless committed homosexual relationship with a sexful committed heterosexual marriage where sex is blessed, but it’s condemned in the other? It’s a double standard, based on what?

    • Rocky Munoz, December 7, 2014 at 1:53 pm:

      I’ve added a footnote about the satiric nature of my vulgar language. Great suggestion!

      As for why I am still not on board with gay sex, even in a committed covenant relationship, it really has to do with how I understand the nature of sin. In my estimation, sin is anything that misses the mark (hamartia) of God’s ideal. And given what I observe in human anatomy, the witness of Scripture, and the general human experience, I am inclined to think that gay sex is not God’s ideal. Now, to be sure, there are probably sinful aspects of any heterosexual marriage as well (mine included), and I believe that God works with exceptions (hence why the church needs to as well); however, I don’t think that gives license to accept or ignore sin when we identify it in our relationships.

      But, I understand that not everyone sees gay sex as being sinful.

  3. Nick, December 11, 2014 at 12:31 pm:

    Thank you.

    I guess my main question is where is the line drawn. Is it sinful for two men to hug? To hold hands? To kiss romantically? Can they sleep in the same bed as long as there’s no penetration? At one point does it go from a blessed covenantal relationship to a sinful one?

    And beyond even the physical aspect of it. At what point does the desire for said relationship go from being blessed to being sinful?

    (I’m not asking the tired question, “how far is too far?” that people ask about dating; rather, I’m trying to gauge where the line is drawn between a blessed relationship and a sinful one and who decides that line)

    • Rocky Munoz, December 18, 2014 at 1:59 pm:

      That is a great question, Nick! And I’ll admit that I don’t have a real definitive answer at this point. There are, however, a few things that I think people (gay or straight) should keep in mind as they feel out where that line in a relationship is.
      1. Am I doing my best to honor my partner (body, mind, and soul) with what I am doing?
      2. Am I doing my best to honor myself with what I am doing?
      3. Am I doing my best to honor God with what I am doing?

      I know you weren’t intending to ask the “how far is too far” question, but that’s essentially what it is when someone asks where the line is drawn. It pretty much boils down to, “What can I get away with?” The appropriate question to ask is not how far can we go in one direction and still be okay, but rather how far can we push ourselves toward honoring God. I think that when we begin with the “how far is too far” question, we’ve already gone too far, because we’re no longer asking what pleases God; we’re more concerned with what pleases us.


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