The effects of the recent rise of homosexuality in America are far reaching and long lasting, and many of the major issues have been talking points in churches for over a decade. However, it will take decades more to uncover the collateral damage caused by the accelerating prominence and acceptance of homosexual relationships in society. Recently, I read through the book of 1 Samuel and uncovered two more victims from the wreckage: Jonathan and David.
When I write the perversion of Jonathan and David, I don’t intend it as you read it. In fact, what I mean to explain is that our society has brought about the perversion of one of the most amazing relationships in the whole Bible. In recent years, Jonathan and David have been championed as poster boys for biblical homosexuality. Even worse, Christians have all but surrendered this relationship between Saul’s son and “the man after God’s own heart” to the homosexual cause. They will no longer touch it with a ten foot pole; it makes Christians uneasy at best. It’s one of those passages that is best left in the corner of a church closet somewhere–maybe under the pile of “Homosexuality is a Sin” posters.
What is more, in reaction to stereotypes, particularly of gay men (right or wrong), Christian men have become deathly afraid of exhibiting many of the elements written about Jonathan and David in 1 Samuel 18-20. Nothing would drain the blood from their faces quicker than for someone to witness them weeping with their arms around another man (1 Samuel 20:40). It is shameful enough that we lack the hermeneutical manhood to stand up and prevent the perverse misinterpretation of these texts. What we don’t even realize is that in this same moment we are being robbed blind of an amazing example of true Christian manhood.
I believe biblical manhood is seen at its zenith in the relationship between Jonathan and David. To pretend it isn’t in the Scriptures is at best ignoring the issue and at worst losing a blueprint for true ‘bros’ in Christ. Jonathan was a man willing to lay aside his personal ambitions for the sake of God’s plan. His friendship with David meant the death of his own royal career: David was ordained by God to usurp Jonathan’s inheritance as successor to Saul. Rather than joining his father in a murderous pursuit, Jonathan chose to side with the Lord’s Anointed.
Jonathan and David were anything but soft. They were men of battle. They were men who had come within a hair’s breadth of death. Jonathan’s own father hurled a spear at him for choosing to befriend David. When David was abandoned and alone, being chased by an angry and demented king, Jonathan was the one who stuck by him closer than a brother. When Jonathan finally realized his father was hellbent on destroying David, he wept at the thought of never seeing his friend David again.
This is the kind of manly friendship we need to see in our churches. Not the kind where guys grunt around a bucket of hot wings, or argue about football teams, or watch UFC at a bar together. Biblical men weep with one another. They risk their necks for each other. They stick by each other even when the rest of the world seems to be crumbling around them. Jonathan was willing to lay down his very life for David, and in a very real sense he did. He stepped aside to give David the right to inherit the throne of Israel. He chose to defy his own father. He set aside his own ambition for the sake of his friend.
In my life, God has blessed me with a few rugged men who have supported, encouraged, wept with, and sharpened me. We need men like Jonathan who are willing to lay down their lives for us. Perhaps more than that–we need to become men like Jonathan. We each have chosen to lay aside our ambitions and to follow the Lord’s Anointed: Jesus Christ. Jesus himself said, “Greater love has no man than that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Just one verse before Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
It’s not gay to love another man–and don’t let society tell you differently. It’s about time we stop allowing our culture to dictate how we will and won’t behave as disciples of Jesus Christ. Men in our churches need to be able to depend on one another for more than football tickets or a good fist-bump. We are to fight together. We are to fight for one another. We are to fight for each others’ marriages, kids, jobs, and whatever battles may come. We are to become the friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Don’t be willing to forfeit a relationship like Jonathan and David because the world can’t understand the love of Christ. Jesus loved us enough to die for us–his brothers. Why should we do any less for our brothers?