David And Jonathan
Why did God focus on
their intimate partnership?

David and Jonathan - a true love story.


Did God bless David and Jonathan, a same sex couple in romantic, committed, sexual partnership? The Bible devotes more chapters to their love story than any other human love story in the Bible. What does God intend us to learn from that dramatic emphasis?



Donatello's David, in bronze, 1430



The traditional interpretation of the Jonathan and David story has them forming a political covenant and a close, non-sexual friendship.



Our powerful 390 page book, Gay Christian 101 - Spiritual Self-Defense For Gay Christians, takes a fresh look at the textual evidence and offers an honest understanding of Jonathan and David, which is faithful to the scriptures. Portions of this page are excerpted from the book Gay Christian 101.

The story of Jonathan and David has long been a favorite of gay people, who easily identify with the challenges these intimate friends faced.

David, by
Donatello de Bardi, 1396-1466



David, 1430,
a side view
in bronze
by Donatello


"Donatello was one of the greatest artists who ever lived and in some ways was the central figure of the Renaissance.

Before him, artists were aware of definite limits to what could or ought to be done in art.

Donatello was so consistently and shockingly original that after him, all the limits seemed to have disappeared, so that an artist was constrained only by his powers."

-Paul Johnson, The Renaissance


Were they lovers?

Many gays believe that Jonathan and David were same sex lovers, based on the way God presents their story in scripture and based on the Hebrew words used to describe their relationship.

Some gays and many nongays disagree, insisting that florid language and men kissing men is typical Middle Eastern behavior and in no way indicates a homosexual relationship.

Nongays allege that the Bible strictly forbids all homosexual activity therefore Jonathan and David could not be gay. The reasoning is that if they were gay lovers, God would not laud their partnership in such positive fashion.

Did Jonathan and David
do anything that might
indicate they were gay?



Young David preparing to
fight Goliath




Scripture speaks in glowing terms of Jonathan and David’s loving intimacy, exchanging clothing, embracing, weeping together, hugging and kissing each other.

Gays point out that the same Hebrew words used to describe Jonathan and David’s relationship also describe intimate opposite sex relationships.

Jonathan loved David and so they consistently make time alone together and when alone, affirm their love for each other. Each time they reaffirm their covenant, love for each other is the justification given in scripture. Jonathan goes against his father, his family, his opportunity to be Israel’s King, in favor of supporting David.

Yet, because it is believed that scripture does not directly state that Jonathan and David enjoyed a romantic, sexual relationship, the argument from the presumed silence of scripture is used to "prove" a sexual relationship between them did not exist.

Our task is to examine the scriptures to see if they are as silent about David and Jonathan’s romantic sexual relationship as some allege. There are many textual clues in the David and Jonathan story which allow us to draw a principled conclusion about their relationship, based on the weight of the evidence.

Jonathan and David's
intimate friendship
is clear in the Bible

If Jonathan and David did enjoy a romantic sexual relationship, the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel presents interesting challenges and immense opportunities for twenty-first century Christians.

Is it possible that God so carefully preserved the David and Jonathan story in scripture to encourage the church to welcome saved gays and lesbians as equal members in the body of Christ? I believe this was precisely God's purpose.

Three Possible Interpretations



Jonathan, David's partner
and best friend



  1. The Traditional Viewpoint - Jonathan
    and David formed only a political covenant and a close, loving, nonsexual friendship. This is the view of most nongay commentators and most Christians, including gay Christians.

  2. The Secular Gay Viewpoint - Jonathan and David were sexually intimate but were not a partnered couple since both were bisexual and eventually married women. This is the view of many secular gays.

  3. The Minority Gay Christian Viewpoint - David and Jonathan, Saul and all Israel, viewed Jonathan and David as a couple who formed an emotional, romantic, sexual bond, lasting some fifteen years, until Jonathan’s untimely death.

    This is the view of some gay Christians although it is not the majority view among gay Christians.

Direct Evidence About
David And Jonathan’s Relationship

Direct evidence is clear evidence of a fact or event which requires no additional thought to prove its existence. Direct evidence is eyewitness testimony (such as King Saul in 1 Samuel 20:30), what a witness said, saw or heard that relates directly to the issue in dispute.

Direct evidence is to be accepted at face value. In general, direct evidence is regarded as more forceful than circumstantial evidence because direct evidence requires no inferences to reach a conclusion.

In the book, Gay Christian 101 - Spiritual Self-Defense For Gay Christians, we examine five lines of direct evidence about Jonathan and David.

Five Lines of Direct Evidence



Bust of King David


1. The testimony of the Holy Spirit, Who moved the writers of scripture to record what they wrote. 2 Peter 1:21.

2. The testimony of David about his relationship with Jonathan.

3. The testimony of Saul about Jonathan and David’s relationship.

4. The testimony of Jonathan about his relationship with David.

5. The Hebrew words used by the Holy Spirit to describe Jonathan and David’s relationship.

Circumstantial Evidence About
David And Jonathan’s Relationship

Circumstantial evidence suggests facts by inference. A reasonable person might reach a conclusion based on appearance or testimony that suggests a connection or physical evidence that suggests a conclusion.

This requires weighing the evidence since, with circumstantial evidence, there is an inferential gap between the evidence and the matter to be established.

The question to be answered when dealing with circumstantial evidence is whether the evidence, if believed, could reasonably support an inference of guilt.

Five Lines Of Circumstantial Evidence

  1. The actions of Jonathan toward David.

  2. The actions of David toward Jonathan.

  3. The actions of Saul toward David and Jonathan.

  4. The actions of people who facilitated David and Jonathan’s relationship.

  5. Statements in scripture commending David’s character.

Discover Dramatic Evidence

We carefully examine direct and circumstantial evidence in our powerful 390 page book, Gay Christian 101: Spiritual Self-Defense For Gay Christians.

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Who is responsible for Jonathan and David receiving so much emphasis in the Bible?

This page revised October 14, 2011