Surpassing The Love Of A Woman
2 Samuel 1:26
“I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women.”
It should come as no surprise that the world grabs hold of this verse, and uses it as a proof text that somewhere between Leviticus 18:22 and 2 Samuel 1:26, God must have softened His stand on homosexual behavior. The world points to this page and tells you that the man after God’s own heart was engaged in an open relationship with a man.
In as clear language as I can muster, God never softened His stand. And this verse does not imply any such relationship.
The Church of God really doesn’t like to discuss homosexuality. Somehow we are content to read Leviticus 18:22, hang the word “abomination” on the act, and we simply don’t need to know any more. And at some level, you would be correct if you held that view. But it has its price. The world today wants to hear our views on the topic, and for lack of open discussion among ourselves, we have made ourselves illiterate on the topic. “Abomination” prevents us from exploring that world ourselves. But a less than God-fearing society is looking for a higher level of input. Droning out “abomination” every time we hear the topic arise can quite naturally make us appear as bigots. For most other commandments of God (perhaps excluding the Sabbath), we are prepared to provide a reasonable discussion on the topic.
It’s not as though the world is playing an honestly dealt hand. As I read this passage, How DARE they snip out the words spoken in the deep grief of a best friend’s passing, and paste them onto poster boards without context with their own dark imagination plastered into those words!
But the passage gives me pause as well. It forces me to examine David’s life in order to discern what he might have meant. And I must face a few facts. To begin with, David was married to Jonathan’s sister Michal (the divorce didn’t take place until 2 Samuel 3:14). And from all accounts, David’s bond with Jonathan was indeed stronger than his bond with Michal. By now, David had been married three times. Yet I still wonder if he even comprehended what “love of women” meant. If you seek to be a man after God’s own heart, seek examples regarding family life from someone other than David.
The world may in error equate love and lust. But God never confuses the two. The Church must de-literalize “Greet one another with a holy kiss” simply because we have partially bought into the world’s confusion of love and lust, and we really have no conviction of what a holy kiss is. David loved Jonathan, but was never intimate with him. David was intimate with Michal, but never loved her. This is hardly a new paradigm of excellence. But let’s be honest about what David is guilty of, and of what he is not.
The world says that what David and Jonathan actually consummated is irrelevant; David exposed his heart’s desire in this verse. But my reply is – even if it is possible that David lusted after Jonathan, a supposition that is without evidence – the temptations of David’s heart are irrelevant; had David acted on such a temptation – whether real or supposed – then God would have set aside the part of David that was a man after God’s own heart, and labeled David an abomination.
Homosexual activity is everywhere in scripture. But I believe (I haven’t researched this thoroughly) that God has blotted out from the book – from the Bible – the name of everyone who participated. Every participant is nameless.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (esp. 22) is sometimes used as a proof text that Paul was homosexual. But the context is clearly non-sexual. Hebrew 4:15 might imply that Jesus was tempted by homosexuality. But some scholars couple Hebrews 4:15 with 1 John 2:15, “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life” as fulfilled in the wilderness (Matthew 4). I suspect He probably was tempted. Had Satan succeeded in that temptation, that would have been a huge trophy for him. But of course Jesus overcame the temptation. Being tempted doesn’t necessarily result in an act of sin, and in Jesus’ case, it absolutely did not. I may be tempted to steal; have I therefore stolen? Matthew 5:21-30 may warn that the temptation exposes to me that I have the seeds within me to convert the temptation into an act of sin. But does the temptation to steal make me one who has stolen?
The world says that the Church deprives the homosexual of his civil rights. This is wholly a creation of the world’s world view. The world says that among (not necessarily two) consenting adults, all activity is good. The Church of God says that between (two) a man and the wife he himself is married to, all activity is good. A world view that places all sexual activity within the boundaries of marriage1 does not discriminate against homosexuals. It is only the world’s assumption that marriage plays no role in determining the boundary that makes this a topic at all.
If I may step out of my league a moment, I am not fully persuaded that it is a victory for God to convert a homosexual. On the surface, it appears the efforts are simply re-directing his base lust from one portion of the population to another. And there is no righteous means by which to test the results of the conversion efforts. But I confess I have never been part of a conversion effort.
Various studies debate whether a man chooses homosexuality. For a change, the world and I agree on this one: The correct answer is “who cares2.” It is possible that in Matthew 19:12, “eunuchs from birth” describes homosexuals. And Jesus treated them in this passage with dignity.
When you are tempted to lust – regardless the target – the less said about it, the better3. I don’t know if anyone uses the expression “a little birdie told me” any more or not. The expression probably originated in the mid ‘20’s with the musical Peggy Ann. That “little birdie” is straight out of Ecclesiastes 10:20. Satan is not all-knowing. So if you give him the information he needs by mentioning it out loud – even in private – that becomes information he can use to your harm. Some temptations are converted to sins merely by discussing them.
1The Catholic Church has this one right: Performing a wedding and registering a marriage are Church functions. The Church should register marriages just as it registers baptisms. Since the State we live in insists on its own registry, our marriages should be registered both by the Church and by the State. But the Protestant Church long ago abandoned its duty to register marriages – perhaps seeing the effort as duplicative. But it ceased being duplicative when the State and the Church parted ways on what constituted a marriage. How much simpler today’s debate would be had the Protestant Church continued its own registry of marriages!
2The world and I have the same answer to the question, but the world and I apply it somewhat differently. The world says “who cares” because regardless of the answer, the world will endorse their behavior. I say “who cares” because regardless of the answer, God calls the act an abomination.
3Even in Godly counsel, discussion should be limited. For instance, her name is irrelevant both to the counselor and to the session at hand.
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