November 16, 2003 / Volume 7, Issue 46
Same Sex Couples In The Bible?

A few days ago, a visitor to our website wrote the following:

There appears to be strong same sex relationships in the Bible; one between Ruth and Naomi (Ruth says to Naomi, ‘May nothing but death separate us'). These are words used in wedding ceremonies, and the other relationship is between David and Jonathan. The Bible states that David's love for Jonathan was greater than his love for women. Ruth is said to have cleaved to Naomi. This word is also used in Genesis regarding how a husband should relate to his wife.

Let's deal with these supposed same sex couplings in today's article.

First, if you have not already read through the other articles appearing on our website regarding homosexuality and the Bible, I direct you to them now.
The Bible And Homosexuality - 1
The Bible And Homosexuality - 2
The Bible And Homosexuality - 3
God Gave Them Up

It is said by our visitor that both Ruth and Naomi, and David and Jonathan are Bible evidence of same sex relationships. Relationship is a broad term. Merriam Webster's Deluxe Dictionary defines "relationship" as:
1: the state of being related or interrelated (studied the relationship between the variables)
2: the relation connecting or binding participants in a relationship: as a: kinship b: a specific instance or type of kinship
3a: a state of affairs existing between those having relations or deals (had a good relationship with his family) b: a romantic or passionate attachment

So sure, I agree, Ruth and Naomi had a relationship (mother-in-law / daughter-in-law), and yes, they were both women. However, these facts do not make their relationship a homosexual relationship. Likewise, David and Jonathan had a relationship (friends), and yes, they were both males. However, again, these facts do not make their relationship a homosexual relationship. Such a conclusion is nothing more than homosexuals seeking to justify themselves by the misuse of valid non-sexual/non-romantic relationships found in Scripture.

Ruth and Naomi were in-laws. Ruth had married one of Naomi's sons, who had passed away. Her other daughter-in-law remained in her own country, returning to her father's house (Ruth 1:11-15), but Ruth clung (v 14) to her, and sought to stay with her mother-in-law (1:16-17). First, it is stated that this word "clung" is the same word used in Genesis regarding a husband's relationship to his wife. Indeed, it is. It is the Hebrew word dabaq. Does that establish that Ruth and Naomi shared a homosexual relationship? No, for the word is also used of a man "cleaving" to his inheritance (Numbers 36:7, 9), of a man "cleaving" to God in service (Deuteronomy 10:20; 11:22), of pestilence and disease "cleaving" to Israel if they did not serve the Lord (Deuteronomy 28:21, 60), of the men of Judah "cleaving" to their king (2 Samuel 20:2), of Eleazar "cleaving" to his sword (2 Samuel 23:9), and of Jehoram "cleaving" to the sins of Jeroboam (2 Kings 3:1-3). Perhaps that is enough examples to illustrate that the word does not necessitate a marital relationship, and in fact, in most instances is not used in that fashion. I might further mention, this Hebrew word appears three more times in the book of Ruth: in 2:8, where Boaz told Ruth to "cleave" to his maidens, in 2:21, where Ruth tells Naomi that Boaz told her to "cleave" to the young men until they ended the harvest, and in 2:23, where we're told that Ruth did as Boaz instructed, "cleaving" to the maidens who were gleaning in the fields.

If the idea of "cleaving" necessitated a marital/romantic/sexual relationship, then Ruth was a very promiscuous woman. In this short book, she "cleaved" to Naomi, Boaz' young men and maidens in the field, and eventually Boaz (as she eventually married him). However, it is evident that one may "cleave" to another without it having anything to do with a romantic relationship. Ruth's "cleaving to Naomi is not evidence of a homosexual relationship. Notice, in the very context where it is mentioned, Naomi is encouraging Ruth to turn away, since she (Naomi) had no more sons to offer her for marriage. However, Ruth's love of her mother-in-law compelled her to go with her.

In expressing her desire to go with Naomi, Ruth stated, "Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me." (v 17). It has been claimed that these are the same types of words which are used in a wedding ceremony. Indeed, when two people marry, it is a union which is to last until death separates. In Genesis 2:24, the Lord ordained that "...a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Commenting on this, Jesus said, "So then, they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." (Matthew 19:6). However, to conclude based upon Ruth's statement that she shared a homosexual relationship with Naomi is to read into the text something that is not there. Can a daughter-in-law not be committed to her mother-in-law with such devotion? Understanding Naomi's position helps to comprehend Ruth's commitment to her. Naomi was returning to Judea without a husband or son. She would have no one to care for her as she aged. Rather than see her mother-in-law destitute and alone, Ruth chose to go with her and provide for her. That's not evidence of a homosexual relationship, that's a wonderful example of family compassion. Also, let it not escape the reader's attention, Ruth eventually married Boaz. No doubt she and Boaz would thereafter tend to the needs of Naomi, but her commitment to Naomi was not parallel of that in marriage.

Regarding David and Jonathan, these two were best friends. David was brought to the house of Saul in what appears to be his teenage years (1 Samuel 16:17-23; 17:13-15, 33, 42). In 1 Samuel 18:1-4, we are given a few words about the relationship these two shared. "Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him, and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt." The nature of their relationship is much like what when I was young friends would call "blood brothers". That is, two friends who cared deeply for the other, and would stand and defend the other at all cost. There is no inference of homosexuality in this text, simply a picture of devoted friends. Notice, as we continue through 1 Samuel 18, "...it pleased David to become the king's son-in-law." (v 26-28). Now, if David and Jonathan were in a homosexual relationship, and such was acceptable before the Lord, why did David marry Michal, Saul's daughter and not Jonathan? At this point, even if homosexuality were not sinful, it would be sexually immoral for him to share such a relationship with Jonathan, since he is a married man.

Finally, what shall we make of David's words, as expressed in the Song of the Bow (2 Samuel 1:18-27)? At verse 26, we read, "I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; you have been very pleasant to me; your love to me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women." These are words of sorrow and praise regarding Jonathan after it had been revealed to David that he was dead. At the time of writing this, David appears to have 7 wives (Michal, Ahinoam, Abigail, Maaccah, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah, 2 Samuel 2:2-5; 3:14-15). God's plan from the very beginning was that one man should have one woman. There are several instances recorded in the Bible where a man had more than one wife, and I confidently say, not one of those instances speaks of the situation favourably. Quite the contrary, when a man has a plurality of wives, we often see trouble accompanying it. The love that a husband is to have for his wife is compromised when it must be spread over more than one woman. In turn, the love which a wife is to have for her husband is also impaired, knowing that his love is divided. In view of this myriad of women, none of which expressed the whole love which a woman can give to a husband who is solely devoted to her, David saw that Jonathan's love for him excelled that of his wives. This is not evidence of a homosexual relationship, but rather strong evidence in support of monogamy.

There is not a single instance where a homosexual relationship is shown in the Bible to be acceptable to God. On the contrary, the Bible time and again speaks against those who participated in homosexual relations (Genesis 18:18-19:29; Romans 1:24-27), and indicate that such will not inherit the kingdom of God unless they repent of their sinful actions (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).


Click here for this week's Answering The Atheist
Can God be seen? Several verses indicate that He can be (Genesis 12:7; 17:1; 18:1; 26:2, 24; 32:30; 35:1, 7, 9, 48:3; Exodus 3:16; 4:5; 6:3; 24:9-11; 33:11, 23; Numbers 14:14; Deuteronomy 5:4; 34:10; Judges 13:22; 1 Kings 22:19; Job 42:5; Psalm 63:2; Isaiah 6:1, 5; Ezekiel 20:35; Amos 7:7; 9:1; Habakkuk 3:3-5). However, there are some verses which say He cannot be seen (Exodus 33:20; John 1:18; 6:46; 1 Timothy 1:17; 6:16; 1 John 4:12). Is there a contradiction?


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