David’s Loves, Jonathan’s Laments by Dirk von der Horst

David’s Loves, Jonathan’s Laments by Dirk von der Horst

LGBTQ+ people in biblical religions often turn to the story of Jonathan’s love for David as an example of biblical affirmation of same-sex love.  The biblical narrative in 1 and 2 Samuel stresses Jonathan’s love for David from the moment David and Jonathan meet to Jonathan’s death after which David utters the famous words, your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” Nevertheless, “love” can indicate many different kinds of relationship, both sexual and non-sexual, and one finds much resistance among biblical scholars to reading Jonathan and David as a model of sexually-expressed love between men.  While some passages in the text are sexually suggestive, nothing in the Bible explicitly states, “David and Jonathan had sex.”  Thus, the strategy of holding up Jonathan and David as a biblical vindication of same-sex love and desire only throws LGBTQ+ people back into the exhausting state of being endlessly debated.

My new book, David’s Loves, Jonathan’s Laments: Gay Theology, Musical Desires, and Historical Difference speaks from the pain of the experience of being caught in the crosshairs of that debate.  Inspired in large part by Mary Daly, it also speaks from an impatience with the state of being stuck in a debate that endlessly repeats itself.  This inspiration from Daly is only one way in which feminist thought deeply informs my project of rethinking the relationship of Jonathan and David.

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