Question: Someone who is liberal in theology told me that Jonathan and David were homosexual lovers. Is that true?
Answer: No, that isn’t true. Whenever you interpret Scripture, always remember to read the verse for what it says—not what you think it says. Some people read more into verses than what is actually there, often because they want to change its meaning.
1 Samuel 18:3-4 says, “Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt.”
David and Jonathan were close friends and had a brotherly relationship. When it says Jonathan “loved him as himself,” it meant Jonathan was willing to lay down his life for him in battle, showing his allegiance over his father Saul, who later tried to kill David. Some people have read too much into this passage, twisting the scriptures to say that Jonathan stripped himself naked and they had a homosexual relationship. But is that what the verse says? No. Jonathan only took off his robe, which he gave to David. The two men made a covenant that day to protect each other’s lives, and Jonathan’s giving his robe and weapons to David was part of that covenant ceremony.
Whenever two parties made a covenant, they would exchange weapons and clothing. The gift of the garment was to signify “all that I have belongs to you, and all that you have belongs to me.” The giving of weapons was a pledge that “anytime you need help in defending yourself, I will come to your aid, and anytime I need help, you will come to my aid. My strength is your strength, and your strength is my strength.” (Harold J. Chadwick, Christ is God’s Everything for You, Bridge-Logos Publishers, 2009, 29.)