Gagnon on David and Jonathan

Writing in Orthodoxy Today recently, Gagnon covered a number of issues which included whether David and Jonathan had some kind of same-sex relationship.

David and Jonathan

Miller cites the relationship of David and Jonathan as an example of the “enduring love between men,” adding: “What Jonathan and David did or did not do in privacy is perhaps best left to history and our own imaginations.” That is tantamount to saying, “What Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi did in the bedroom is best left to our own imaginations,” as if the Bible could possibly be condoning a case of incest; or even tantamount to saying that whether Jesus’ saying about “let the little children come to me” had any positive implications for sex with children is “best left to our imaginations.” When the text of Scripture understood in its literary and historical contexts gives little or no basis for “our own imaginations” to conjure up sexual activity, it is irresponsible to grant or take imaginative license. Such is the case with the relationship of David and Jonathan.

Homosexualist interpretations of David and Jonathan mistake non-erotic covenant/kinship language for erotic intimacy. For example:

  1. The statement that “the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Samuel 18:1) can be compared to the non-erotic kinship language in Genesis 44:31 (“[Jacob’s] soul is bound up with [his son Benjamin’s] soul”) and Leviticus 19:18 (“You shall love your neighbor as yourself”). It can also be compared to formulaic treaty language in the ancient Near East, such as the address of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal to his vassals (“You must love [me] as yourselves”) and the reference in 1 Kings 5:1 to King Hiram of Tyre as David’s “lover.”
  2. Similarly, the remark in 1 Samuel 19:1 that Jonathan “delighted very much” in David can be compared to the non-erotic references in 1 Samuel 18:22 (“The king [Saul] is delighted with you [David], and all his servants love you; now then, become the king’s son-in-law”) and 2 Samuel 20:11 (“Whoever delights in Joab, and whoever is for David, [let him follow] after Joab”).
  3. When David had to flee from Saul, David and Jonathan had a farewell meeting, in which David “bowed three times [to Jonathan], and they kissed each other, and wept with each other” (1 Sam 20:41-42). The bowing suggests political, rather than sexual, overtones. As for the kissing, only three out of twenty-seven occurrences of the Hebrew verb “to kiss” have an erotic dimension; most refer to kissing between father and son or between brothers.
  4. In 1 Samuel 20:30-34, Saul screams at Jonathan: “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse [David] to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness?” Here Saul is not accusing his son of playing the passive-receptive role in man-male intercourse with David (cf. 2 Sam 19:5-6). Rather, he charges Jonathan with bringing shame on the mother who bore him by acquiescing to David’s claim on Saul’s throne.
  5. When David learns of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan he states of Jonathan “you were very dear to me; your love to me was more wonderful to me than the love of women” (2 Sam 1:26). The Hebrew verb for “were very dear to” is used in a sexual sense in the Old Testament only two out of twenty-six occurrences and a related form is used just three verses earlier when David refers to Saul as “lovely,” obviously in a non-erotic sense. Jonathan’s giving up his place as royal heir and risking his life for David surpassed anything David had known from a committed erotic relationship with a woman; but there was nothing sexual in the act. As Proverbs 18:24 notes (in a non-sexual context): “There is a lover/friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

The narrator’s (narrators’) willingness to speak of David’s vigorous heterosexual life (compare the relationship with Bathsheba) puts in stark relief his (their) complete silence about any sexual activity between David and Jonathan. Put simply, homosexualist interpretations of the relationship between David and Jonathan misunderstand the political overtones of the Succession Narrative in 1 Samuel 16:14 – 2 Samuel 5:10. Jonathan’s handing over his robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt were acts of political investiture, transferring the office of heir apparent to David (1 Samuel 18:4). The point of emphasizing the close relationship between David and Jonathan was to stress the view that David was not a rogue usurper to Saul’s throne. Rather, he was adopted by Jonathan into his father’s “house” (family, dynasty) as though he were Jonathan’s older brother. Neither the narrator(s) of the Succession Narrative nor the author(s) of the Deuteronomistic History show any concern about homosexual scandal, because, in the context of ancient Near Eastern conventions, nothing in the narrative raised suspicions about a homosexual relationship. (For further discussion, see Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, 146-54; Markus Zehnder,“Observations on the Relationship between David and Jonathan and the Debate on Homosexuality,” Westminster Theological Journal 69.1 [2007]: 127-74).

Thoughts (apart from agreeing with my dislike of the word “homosexualist”)?

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47 Comments on “Gagnon on David and Jonathan

  1. Apart from agreeing with your dislike of homosexualist (what a coinage!) – he can't seem to help himself, can he? – is there anything new here that he hasn't said before? I note he thinks the Levitical term to'evah has to be taken very seriously (above prawns and mixed fibre) because it is the only place that it is used sexually.

    "Here is my explanation as to why we should regard the prohibition of homosexual practice in Leviticus with great seriousness (notice that I use a combination of criteria). First, the Levitical Holiness Code treats it as a matter of great seriousness. It is the only offense in the sex laws in Leviticus 18 specifically tagged with the word to’evah, meaning “abomination, something abhorrent (to God)"."

    Whether you think this is good exegesis or eisigesis, unless you are a Hebraist yourself in the end it all depends on whether you buy all Gagnon's other arguments or not. I think I would trust a Jew rather than a Gentile on the subject of the Old Testament, especially when it concerns the laws that a Jew lives with every day, and especially when that Jew is none other than Jacob Milgrom whose magisterial 3-vol commentary on Leviticus even Gagnon acknowledges, apart from his disagreement over the meaning of Lev 18:22 and 20:13.

    As a thought experiment over David and Jonathan, if you read the story to the common-sense man on the Clapham omnibus, who has not much knowledge of all the fine academic arguments about whether D and J were lovers, what is he going to think? I am not a betting man but I'd take a bet we do know what he'd say about this, even if you challenged him that the story doesn't actually tell us what went on in the bedroom. He would think it was implied strongly enough for us to make a reasoned supposition. Would he be completely mistaken as Gagnon argues? To paraphrase Professor Diarmuid McCullough's comment to Ann Widdecombe over her question whether Cardinal Newman was homosexually inclined or not : "when something walks like a duck, flies like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it's a duck". Perhaps the common-sense man is wrong but who's to say? Gagnon argues from absence of information, something he normally lambasts in others. The 'homosexualist' scholars' defence is that the later redactors missed censoring that text. That's what makes reading the Bible interesting. It is not a document (series of documents) drawn up by legal teams so that there can be only one clear meaning available to every reader whatever his level of education. And because it is not, that is why the Catholic Church denounced sola scriptura as most dangerous heresy and put Luther, Calvin and Zwingli in Hell (I don't know if they are still there).

    • As a thought experiment over David and Jonathan, if you read the story to the common-sense man on the Clapham omnibus, who has not much knowledge of all the fine academic arguments about whether D and J were lovers, what is he going to think? I am not a betting man but I’d take a bet we do know what he’d say about this, even if you challenged him that the story doesn’t actually tell us what went on in the bedroom. He would think it was implied strongly enough for us to make a reasoned supposition. Would he be completely mistaken as Gagnon argues?

      Yes he would, and to suggest otherwise demonstrates not open-mindedness about the nature of erotic same-sex realtionships but rather closed-mindedness about how middle eastern cultures and language expressed affection, companionship and loyalty not only 3000 years ago but also today. It is, quite simply put, an ignorance on a par of some 19th Century missionaries equating lack of clothes in some tribes to unculturedness to suggest that these stories are anything to do with a same-sex erotic relationship.

  2. Gagnon may well be right. In fact I think that he almost certainly is. Not that I see that it really matters.

    Actually, I’ve sometimes wondered why exponents of the ex-gay philosophy don’t insist that David and Jonathan WERE in a gay relationship. They could then point to the death of Jonathan as God’s judgment on their relationship and to David’s transformation from passionate gay lover to raving heterosexual polygamist and adulterer as proof that “Change is possible!”

    • Actually, I’ve sometimes wondered why exponents of the ex-gay philosophy don’t insist that David and Jonathan WERE in a gay relationship.

      Because they weren't? :-)

    • Hello again,

      I think you (and Tom) are right, William – "Gagnon may well be right. In fact I think that he almost certainly is. Not that I see that it really matters". Indeed. Dr Gagnon seems to be taking a sledgehammer to an already-cracked nut to me – it's anachronistic to ask / argue whether 'David and Jonathan were gay', and you can argue a good case for a 'revisionist' view without having anything to do with this.

      in friendship, Blair

  3. I understand that we're only ever thinking out loud here, but if I were a sexual revisionist I'm not sure I'd want to appeal too strongly to commonsensical understandings of the Bible in English (Romans 1 and 1 Cor 6, among others spring to mind).

    And of course the reactions of the man on the Clapham omnibus are culturally contingent. I would argue that until relatively recently it would not actually have occurred to the MOTCO that D and J were sexual partners, because physically and emotionally intimate yet non-sexual male friendships were not subject to the same kind of innuendoes and speculation that they often are nowadays.

    • Alternatively, "liberals" could point out that cherry-picking translations that use words like e.g. "homosexual" (coined, as we all know, in the 19C) is more Sola "Translations that Best Supports My Presuppositions" than it is Sola Scriptura. "Common sense" is not always used to refer to some kind of self-evident truth. People can disagree and come up with different readings in good conscience (hence the need for Magisterium! ;-)).

      • Ryan

        Perhaps you should re-read Peter's 'Sexuality and Slavery' series of articles (or read them if you haven't) as these, in my view, pretty much demolish the translation arguments put forward by revisionists. Indeed, they show that the presuppositions come far more from the liberal side, with appalling translation, use and selective quoting of both scripture and ancient world literature outside its original context and meaning.

        • Begging to differ a little, if you can bear the tedium… several good revisionist arguments weren't engaged with, and Rabbi Steven Greenberg's argument (which I tried to summarise on the thread related to arsenokoitai, number 3 I think) was commended by Peter…

          in friendship, Blair

    • Interesting if you compare this with the Indian context. There the words for sex in Hindi and Urdu are only applied to heterosex. Men who have sex with men call their kind of sex mischief or fun. Nor do they recognise themselves as gay. (Though maybe this is changing due to internet influence.) Jeremy Seabrook states in his Love in a Different Climate that less than a quarter of his interviewees self-identified as gay. "Most people do not examine their feelings about such things" said one. Such attitudes are current in the Middle East (see Brian Whitaker's Unspeakable Love) and they probably were back in David's time. William's suggestion, perhaps offered jokingly, may have more truth about it than some people want to know. It is curious (perhaps not) why Gagnon strains so hard to defend David and Jonathan from this one particular sin when they sinned in so many other ways.

      • I spent a month in India and by the end I was walking around holding hands with my male friends. That's simply what blokes do there.

        The issue of homosexuality in India is interesting. Yes, there is increasing western influence, but that then begs the question – is India being influenced by the liberated West who have finally discovered the real identity of gay men, or are we here just exporting a particular cultural model of how men who have sex with men inter-relate? Is the west in fact just guilty of cultural colonialism in the area of same-sex attraction?

        • Yes it's really interesting. The god Ayyappa was born from the union of two male gods, Siva and Visnu disguised as Mohini. Alain Daniélou, I think it was, was with an Indian friend telling a Parisian audience the story of why this came about – one of those occasions when a demoness who had been given a boon by Brahma that she couldn't be slain by a man born of woman started threatening the cosmos – when he noticed the knowing smiles on his audience's faces. He was shocked when he asked them what was up and one of them said "What a charming homosexual story". Indian mythology is full of such stories but it doesn't occur to ordinary pious Hindus that they have a gay meaning in any modern Western sense.

          • Hi Tom,

            am ignorant about India especially in relation to this, so thanks to you and Peter for these comments. You quoted Jeremy Seabrook writing, “Most people do not examine their feelings about such things” – does Seabrook suggest why that might be? Is it owing to any kind of taboo? Or is it rather (contrasting Peter's post about India with yours below about Britain) that masculinity is different there – that where masculinity in Britain (and of course other 'Western' nations) has been constructed in large part around 'real men are not gay' (granted that's collapsing now), it's not so in India?

            in friendship, Blair

            • Hello Blair

              Thank you for your comment. This is just a quick response and I'd be happy to say more but I wanted to get back to you between getting back from seeing Don't Leave Me (don't miss it) and getting supper ready for some friends. Jeremy Seabrook's book was pretty groundbreaking when it was first published in 1999. If you are interested I notice that Amazon has second-hand copies for £1.46
              http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/18598483

              Seabrook prefers to use the term MSM (men who have sex with men) rather than gay or homosexual because most of the men he met did not designate themselves as such or did not consider they were part of any liberation movement. He wrote the book out of concern for these men and their loved ones in the time of a growing AIDS crisis in India. I'll quote a bit from the Forward by Anjali Gopalan who is Executive Director of the NAZ Foundation (India) Trust. He says "Men who have sex with men (MSM) is a group that has always been hidden in Indian society…..on the few occasions when it is discussed….it seems to be used interchangeably with homosexuality……it is important that people understand the difference between a gay identity and MSM behaviour. MSM behaviour is implicitly accepted though taboo in Indian society".

              Seabrook did the research in 1997 and met up with men in daylight hours in a public park in Delhi where cruising for sex goes on, but in rather an open environment, light and airy and certainly not furtive. For the book he selects 75 conversations out of many more. As I say, he is at great pains to stress the term MSM is critical because in India as in many other cultures in Asia and Africa, concepts of being bi or gay are not applicable to such relationships.

              I'd be happy to discuss this with you further , perhaps even off the thread if we are in danger going too far off topic.

              • When I was doing my first degree in Economics and Econometrics, I did a bit of Social Anthropology. We learnt about a tribe in Papua New Guinea where all boys at a certain age left their mothers and went to the boys hut. For the next two years they were buggered by the older boys and then they spent the next two years doing it themselves to the younger boys. At the end of this period which reinforced their manhood they then married and <never> again engaged in sex with males.

                Were they all straights who became gay and then straight again? Did their genes make two miraculous changes in the space of four years? Or is this a cultural understanding of what constitutes "normal" so that all male children grow up capable (even desirous of) of male penetrative sex? Is sexual desire something a lot more complicated then just what our biology apparently says?

                This is a fascinating conversation guys. Thanks for opening this up for us.</never>

                • I expect you know of Gilbert Herdt's work especially his study of liminal rituals for youths approaching manhood where the ingestion of older men's semen is regarded as essential for the younger men to become brave warriors? In this case I think the insemination was always entirely oral. Certainly I think the young men were not made gay by this experience and I think Herdt reports that there may have been a rare case of one who found it objectionable. But most accepted their role knowing that after they had passed the threshold into manhood it would be their turn to do the inseminating. As far as I remember there was no mechanism for anyone to continue in the receptive role after he's entered manhood.

                  (Incidentally I am watching a very sweet series "The Island Parish" set in South Uist and Barra, places where the Reformation never reached. I can't help wondering what a gay man or woman would do if he found himself in such a community. Iceland and Greenland with their very small populations have an entirely respectful attitude to their gay citizens with equality laws in place. Of course Scottish Equality law would cover the Outer Hebrides.)

              • Hi Tom,

                many thanks indeed for that. At £1.46, even with p & p, it might be worth ordering a copy, especially as the page number count didn't seem that high! (I always have too many books on the go).

                I was going to ask, what's 'Don't Leave Me' like, but that really *would* be off topic.

                Am noting your quote from the foreword, especially the first sentence and "MSM behaviour is implicitly accepted though taboo in Indian society". I wonder whether 'implicitly accepted though taboo' has echoes of the situation here in Britain, particularly in the past in certain contexts, such as public schools and the "very selective circles" you mention in your post to Niall at the bottom of this thread. One thing about a taboo is of course that whatever-it-is can't be talked about, or at most only obliquely or in code / 'special' language (Polari might be an example). I'm also wondering whether the taboo in India is starting to crack and collapse, perhaps even more recently than it has in the 'west' – you said Seabrook's research was done in '97 and I wonder what his findings would be now. I'm guessing there could be links between the collapse of the taboo and 'coming out' stories emerging…. hoping I can make that point without lapsing into a kind of colonialism as Peter referred to above.

                (An aside – I haven't read Michael Vasey's Strangers and Friends but have a feeling that he puts 'gay identity' in a historical context in a way that might be relevant to this conversation. Has anyone read it who could say more? I'll dig out his chapter from The way forward? and see if there's anything in that).

                Your posts Tom, and yours Peter, are strengthening the sense I have that it's how masculinity is constructed in a culture, and what its meanings are, that's key here. I'm sure there's more to say here but at this hour my thinking's more woolly than usual… I also have a vague sense that something Rabbi Steven Greenberg talks about in Wrestling with God and men is pertinent. He discusses moral abominations and says that one key to the 'abominable' is what categories are violated. In the case of MSM it's our categories of male and female and absolute, clear belonging to one gender. There's more to say on that & that's probably not a good summary, but will have to add more another time.

                in friendship, Blair

                • Hi Blair,

                  I just want to add that the whole idea of sexuality as just two sexes has been challenged in the Indian experience for centuries by the presence of the category of the Hijra (called Ali) in the South. Hijras are men who cross-dress into saris. Mostly they are intact males but historically many of them have operations to change their sex – at the most basic simply to remove their male organs. There is a film which gives you an idea of the power of the Hijras in popular consciousness even in modern Pakistan. It’s called Immaculate Conception. Sadly not available but it sometimes crops up on TV – see: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Immaculate-Conception-VHS-James-Wilby/dp/B0000583V3/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=video&qid=1299234598&sr=8-1-spell

                  The Hijras have been called India’s Lady-boys – though they are not really like (nor as pretty as!) Thailand’s kathoey who when dolled up really can pass for beautiful women, quite unlike our idea of pantomime drag queens. Just to go off at a tangent for a mo. All the big hotels in Bangkok arrange a trip to a Lady-boy show for their patrons. I went and was amazed at the artistry and sheer beauty of the kathoeys. The commère appeared as a girl dressed Marlene Dietrich-style in white-tie-and-tails in a tantalising butch-femme manner. It was amazing to see how appreciative the largely heterosexual tourist audience was and I was amused how after the show the husbands were queuing up to get their wives to take their pictures posing with the ‘girls’. Why do straight men find ‘girly’ gay men much less challenging than straight-acting ones – and even like chicks-with-dicks?

                  Third sex has long been debated by the Buddhist and Jain monks ever since the beginnings in the 6th century BCE. Zwilling & Sweet (cited below) say: “The acceptance of the category of a third sex has been a part of the Indian worldview for nearly three thousand years. The concept took form during the late Vedic period (eighth to sixth centuries B.C.E.) on the basis of observed male gender-role nonconformity”.

                  The Jains wondered whether the third sex could be admitted as monks and the general decision was no because of the sexual temptation the more flamboyant ones would offer other monks, but also because of the monastic order’s reputation with the laity on whom they depended for alms. Hijras have an accepted but lowly status and they are also feared in Indian society – they are on the edge. They turn up at weddings and give blessings, never turned away because a blessing can easily become a curse. The Jains though were the first to acknowledge that there were some men and some women who appeared straight but whose desires were for the same sex. Could these normal looking people be admitted to the order? The answer was yes. LEONARD ZWILLING Department of English University of Wisconsin–Madison MICHAEL J. SWEET Department of Psychiatry University of Wisconsin–Madison have written a now famous paper ‘”Like a City Ablaze”: The Third Sex and the Creation of Sexuality in Jain Religious Literature’ which you can download on a one-day free trial from here:

                  http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst?docId=96387316

                  “It is among the Jains that we have more definitely identified a premodern delineation of a concept of sexuality in something approaching its modern sense. The Jains are an important Indian minority religious community with a history of over twenty-five hundred years and a vast literature in Sanskrit and other Indic languages that has, until recently, been little known in the West except to a small number of specialists. Because they shared the pan-Indian acceptance of a third sex, the Jains, like many other Indian schools of thought, were led to speculate on what the nature (svrabhāva) of such a third-sex person might be, as compared to that of a man or a woman. As it turned out, the residual or even redundant category of a third sex served as a focal point for speculations that ultimately resulted in the formation of an autonomous idea of sexuality. The primary objective of this article is to demonstrate that Jain thinkers, living and writing long before the modern era and in a sociocultural context very different from our own, developed a full-fledged conception of sexuality that meets the criteria cited above, a sexuality that is often, but not invariably, linked to gender nonconformity and biological sex”

                • Hello again Blair

                  Apart from the pilgrimage to the shrine of the god Ayyappa in Kerala there is a rather different kind of festival that takes place in Tamil Nadu involving the Mohini legend. The Wikidedia entry at

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohini#cite_note-D65

                  gives a useful survey of the myths of Mohini, though I think it is not entirely correct to say she is an avatar of Vishnu (or sometimes Krishna who is an avatar) because an avatar is strictly an incarnation that the god assumes one at a time down through history. Ruth Vaneeta says (in Same-Sex Love in India: readings from literature and history, ed. Ruth Vaneeta & Saleem Kidwai, Palgrave, NY, 2001) that the traditional interpretation of Mohihini is that Vishnu's play (leela) is to make Shiva forget he is a man and become attracted to his Mohini form. However in one of the versions of the play between them it is Shiva who asks Vishnu to assume his Mohini-form because of her beauty. So Shiva is aware of the ambiguous nature of the form. In fact in one case in the middle of their love-making Mohini turns back into Vishnu but the love-making continues.

                  A distinctive version of the legend of Vishnu-Mohini is celebrated in festivals in several villages in Tamilnadu. Ayyappa the son of Mohini and Shiva has vowed to be a celibate yogin and refuses to marry the goddess he liberated from the demonesses ashes (though she wants him) until no new pilgrim comes to Sabrimala, but on the other hand Aravan, is a soldier, a hero told about in the Mahabharata, centre of the Pillaiyarkuppam festival and he wants to be married. He has offered to die to gain victory for his side in a battle to come but before he dies he is desperate to experience married bliss at least once. No Indian woman in her senses would accept to become a widow on the day after her wedding. Out of compassion Mohini offers to be his bride. This is not exactly the ideal marriage but it is the best on offer for Aravan. The transgendering elements of the story are made explicit through the presence of Alis. They take a central role in the ritual when they re-enact the part of Mohini in her marriage to Aravan. They turn up in Royal saris – bright red and gold. They are brides for a night. They consummate this symbolically by selling sex in an adjacent field to men who attend the festival. In this they are joined by dangas, local men who cross-dress for the duration of the festival but appear to lead ordinary married lives the rest of the year. In the morning the Alis break their wedding bangles and exchange their bridal saris for white, the colour of death, the colour of widows.

                  See http://www.fas.nus.edu.sg/journal/kolam/VOLUMES/V… for more information and for some links to pictures of Alis in the APPENDIX

                  Blair and Peter, I hope I haven't gone on too long. I have attended the Sabrimala pilgrimage but never the Pillaiyarkuppam festival, though I'd love to go. Bill Powell wrote an account of his visit there on a motorbike for the Telegraph some years back. I can't lay hands on it but if I do locate it I'll put up the URL.

                  • Wow, thanks for all this Tom. Have had a busy couple of days so don't have the brain-energy to respond at any length. But will just say that I think a key question is, how do these gender-bending mythologies and concepts of a third sex, bear on same-sex sex and how this is conceived of and talked about (or not talked about)?

                    I might quote a bit from Rabbi Steven Greenberg's work, which I've mentioned before, another time… :)

                    in friendship, Blair

    • Actually Niall, I am sure it was the opposite of that. I guess it dated from the time of the Trials of Oscar Wilde but while I was a boy men policed their shows of affection for one another in Britain. My uncles as far back as I can remember were always quick to spot where they thought men were "not the marrying kind", "confirmed bachelors" or worse "pansies". Its just that those confirmed bachelors generally made efforts to conceal it unless they moved in very selective circles like the Bloomsbury Group or worked in the theatre.No one "came out" then but there was tittle-tattle about people like John Gielgud. Lord Montagu and Peter Wildeblood actually got caught and were sent to prison. My sister and I were never allowed to go to the ballet because my father said he disapproved of men wearing tights. I think TMOTCO would have shared those prejudices.

  4. Re: homosexualist. The earliest I can recall this word being used was by Gore Vidal in either the 70s or 80s. His point was homosexual is an adjective describing acts, not a noun describing people. Vidal also made the point that nobody would claim that President LBJ and Bertrand Russell shared characteristics because they were both heterosexualists, so why the talk of 'gay sensiblity' and the like? Despite being an arch-liberal, Vidal's use of 'homosexualist' actually accords in many ways with Gagnon's; describing those who engage in (or at least have a taste for) certain acts instead of 'gay's' false essentialism.

    Sociology always seemed to present some strange challenges to Christianity. For example, the way that finding one tribe somewhere where men raise children was offered as a proof that gender is simply a construct. You don't need to be a John McCarthur or Pope Benedict XVI to find something a bit screwy in the overturning of generalisations on the basis of such 'exception that proves the rule' tangents.

      • Why don’t you visit the websites I shared with you to find out, Or better yet, do some research of your own? They clearly go into detail about what The Bible originally said about homosexuality in it’s original languages. It pretty much said nothing, and there were same-sex marriages that existed in those times.

        • Right Aaron, because I’ve done *no* research of my own.

          What I want you to do is lay out the reasons why you think David and Jonathan were gay lovers. Once you’ve done that we can examine your argument to see whether it has any merit.

          Over to you.

                • In context Saul is very clearly berating Jonathan for choosing to be loyal to David and not him. Saul fears that Jonathan will not follow after him as king – “^For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.”

                  • This could easily be taken to mean that, since Jonathan was in love with David, and one of the regulations of becoming king was to produce a heir, and obviously two men cannot reproduce, that Jonathan would not be able to become king. Jonathan may have not wanted to produce a heir. He did have a child, but there’s no mention in The Bible of the child’s mother. Jonathan could’ve easily adopted him. David, on the other hand, was attracted to women as well, and could reproduce. I think Saul fears that Jonathan will not become king, because he can’t fulfill all the obligations of becoming one. There’s no indication in 1 Samuel 20:30 that Saul is angry with Jonathan because he is choosing to be loyal to Jonathan instead of him, otherwise the author would’ve used different wording.

                    • “There’s no indication in 1 Samuel 20:30 that Saul is angry with Jonathan because he is choosing to be loyal to David”

                      Apart from of course verse 31 which makes sense if Saul’s issue with Jonathan is simply his unwillingness to sire any child but makes every sense if the real issue is that David is a rival to the throne.

                      But let’s suppose you are correct. How should the Hebrew be rendered to make my theory work? What is it about the Hebrew that makes your theory work?

                    • Saul could’ve said, “You son of perversion of the rebelliousness, do not I know that you’re choosing the son of Jesse OVER BEING LOYAL (if there was a word for loyal in Hebrew, or an equivalent) TO YOUR FATHER.” This and numerous other verses in 1 Samuel in the original text makes my theory work. There are also medieval scholars who believed that David and Jonathan’s relationship was more than friendship or brotherly love http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_and_Jonathan#Medieval_and_Renaissance_allusions

                    • Not to me it isn’t. Please tell me what the alternative Hebrew should be. Or did you pick this up from somewhere else and actually you have no idea what the Hebrew should be?

                    • I do not know what the Hebrew would be. I do believe that The Bible would’ve said something different, if it was referring to what you believe it does.

                    • So wait a minute, you’re suggesting to me that the Hebrew should have said something different if it was meaning to imply an issue around loyalty and succession, but you have absolutely no idea what that Hebrew is?
                      And the reason I should take you seriously is?

                    • Decide what? You make a contention that the Hebrew would be different if the verse meant what I think it means, but you can’t tell us what the Hebrew would be?

                      And you expect me to take you seriously?

                    • If you can read Hebrew and Koine, why do I need to tell you what the Hebrew should’ve said? Why don’t you find out for yourself?

                    • Because I think the Hebrew says what it should have said and is translated adequately.

                      If you want to suggest that the Hebrew has been incorrectly translated into English you need to tell us (i) which Hebrew word, (ii) what it should be translated as (with contextual examples) and (iii) what the word is that should have been used (with contextual examples).

                      If you can’t do that please don’t insist we are all wrong without providing a shred of evidence to support your contention.

                    • I have nothing to prove here. I’m happy with the UBS 4th Edition and the ESV English text. If you think they’re wrong prove otherwise (particularly with reference to external evidence for the “Erection” translation).

                    • I’m not asking you to prove anything. I asked you what you believe 1 Samuel 18:21 and 1 Samuel 20:41 say in their original languages, since you said you can read Hebrew and Koine. People such as hoperemains.webs.com and homosexualeunuchsandthebible.com have referenced the Hebrew texts and came to the conclusion that David and Jonathan were married, and there were medieval scholars who believed they might’ve been. I did not ask you to give me other translations of those verses.

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