The biblical story of David and Jonathan is one of the most powerful stories of love in the Bible. The enduring power of their relationship inspires many LGBTQ people and affirms that same-sex relationships are a blessing from God. Some even honor them as saints and celebrate their feast day on Dec 29.
However, it is important to remember that the biblical account of David and Jonathan is a story and not history. It is a narrative crafted by human authors and, as such, it is subject to biases. Nevertheless, this is an exceptional love story that receives major emphasis because the Holy Spirit, the ultimate Author of scripture, decided to give it that emphasis.
In addition, non-gay scholars point out that the Bible explicitly states that sex with men is a sin. In fact, the most comprehensive academic treatment of homosexuality in the Bible and its ancient Near Eastern context (The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics) concludes that Leviticus 18:22-23 “describes a level of revulsion toward loving same sex intercourse without parallel in the ancient Near East.” Therefore, it is unthinkable that the biblical authors would have allowed a sexual relationship between David and Jonathan.
Further, the account of their relationship reveals that their friendship was very close and deeply intimate. First Samuel tells us that the souls of the two men were bound together – a word which means to be connected, to become a single unit. The two were so close that when David met Goliath, he asked for his sword.