Thinking Out Loud

June 8, 2013

David and Jonathan Weren’t Gay

In the Bible we see a number of special friendship relationships between men. Jesus and John the Apostle are frequently mentioned, but probably even more so is the friendship between David and Jonathan.  J. Lee Grady addressed this a few days ago. I was going to run this as a link in a weekend link list, but there were a few things that would have appeared in that list that really need to be seen by a larger audience than normally would click through. Still, if you want to read this at source, click through to Lee’s Charisma blog, Fire in My Bones where this appeared as How I Know David and Jonathan Weren’t Gay. Also, before some of you get itchy to make a comment, please remember this is about Bible interpretation more than it is about a particular social issue. Also if you want a comment to be seen by the author, click through to the source blog.

Some “theologians” today are perverting Bible stories to promote their agenda. We can’t let them hijack the gospel.

A few weeks ago when I addressed the topic of homosexuality, a reader posted a comment on our forum suggesting that the biblical King David and his friend Jonathan were gay lovers. After a few other readers questioned this interpretation, another reader repeated the claim. “The Bible is clear that David and Jonathan were physical, sexual, gay male homosexual lovers,” this person wrote authoritatively—without citing a chapter and verse.

Most evangelical Christians would drop their jaws in bewilderment if confronted with such an odd theory. Even people with minimal knowledge of the Old Testament know that (1) David was married to Jonathan’s sister, Michal—and he had a few other wives, and (2) David’s biggest blunder was his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba—a woman he saw bathing on a rooftop. God was not happy about David’s lust or with his decision to have Bathsheba’s husband killed so he could hide his sin.

It is illogical to read homosexuality into the story of David and Jonathan because neither Jewish nor early Christian tradition ever endorses sex outside the bounds of heterosexual marriage. If you read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, you will never see a depiction of a gay relationship, ever. Nor will you see homosexuality affirmed. You cannot get around the fact that the Bible says gay sex is flat-out wrong.

But that doesn’t mean people won’t try to change the meaning of Scripture. “Theologians” from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds have written books claiming that various Bible characters were gay. They have suggested that Ruth and Naomi were lesbian lovers; that the Roman centurion in Matthew 8 had a gay relationship with his servant; and that the disciple John had a homoerotic relationship with Jesus.

Gay-affirming theologians also have pounced on the story of David and Jonathan. They point to David’s words in 2 Samuel 1:26 when he eulogized Jonathan and Saul: “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; you have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women” (NASB).

So how do we interpret this verse? We need to keep these points in mind:

1. Old Testament morality has not changed. Our culture today is redefining sexuality. We’ve made killing babies a right, we celebrate fornication and we’re on a mad dash to legitimize gay marriage. But with all the bending, twisting and legal redefining, we cannot change what was written in the Bible thousands of years ago. It’s silly to make the Bible imply something it never said. And it’s laughable to suggest that David, the author of many of the psalms—and the biblical figure who best represents a true worshipper of the one true God—would be recast as being in a gay relationship.

Conservative Jews in our country agree. The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the nation’s largest body of Orthodox Jews, recently reaffirmed their commitment to Old Testament morality. The RCA recently stated, “The Torah and Jewish tradition, in the clearest of terms, prohibit the practice of homosexuality. Same-sex unions are against both the letter and the spirit of Jewish law, which sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony.” Jewish priests in the time of David and Jonathan held the same view.

2. David and Jonathan had a model friendship. Scripture says Jonathan loved David “as himself” (1 Sam. 18:3). Jonathan’s love was selfless and heroic. Even though he was in line to be the next king of Israel, he recognized David would step into that role—and Jonathan not only celebrated his friend as the rightful king but also protected him from his father’s spear-throwing tantrums.

Jonathan’s love was not lust. It was the ultimate in sacrifice. He laid down his rights so his friend could be promoted. He opposed his father’s self-willed ambition and instead affirmed that David should be the true king. Jonathan showed us all how to be a true friend. David’s comment that his friend’s love was “more wonderful than the love of women” was not sexual; he was praising Jonathan’s loyalty and brotherly devotion.

3. We should encourage healthy male friendships instead of sexualizing them. In our fatherless culture, men are starved for affirmation and encouragement. God wired men to need close friends, but few of us are willing to build those kinds of relationships because of insecurity, inferiority or pride. Many guys are lonely, isolated and afraid to admit they need help. Some may even struggle with sexual confusion, yet they could find healing through a combination of the Holy Spirit’s power and healthy male bonding. The church today should do everything possible to encourage male friendships.

It is incredibly perverse—not to mention blasphemous—to suggest that anything sexual was going on between David and Jonathan. Yet I suspect that leaders in the gay-affirming church movement will continue to come up with more bizarre examples of Scripture-twisting in order to promote their agenda. We can’t allow them to hijack the purity of the gospel.


J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of the Mordecai Project (themordecaiproject.org). You can follow him on Twitter at @leegrady. He is the author of The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale and other books.

March 12, 2011

The Lie That Women Shouldn’t Teach Men

Several years ago I had a conversation with someone who told me about the monthly editorials by J. Lee Grady in Charisma Magazine.  I immediately became a fan.  In an environment often characterized by excesses, Grady is a balanced Pentecostal.  As such, he has my highest respect.

I should say now that this isn’t a book review, but rather a chapter review from his latest, 10 Lies Men Believe: The Truth About Women, Power, Sex and God, and Why It Matters; the final chapter, which is titled “#10 – A Man Should Never Receive Spiritual Ministry from a Woman.”

Grady begins with the story of the famed Southern Baptist event where guest speaker Anne Graham Lotz was met with the commotion of many men turning their chairs in protest so that their backs were to her as she spoke.  Class act, huh?   He then goes on to present a rather convincing case that this viewpoint, that a woman should never teach the Bible where men are present, not only has no support in scripture, but that the Bible shows the very opposite to be true.

“While they praise mothers in the natural, they leave no room for spiritual mothers.” (p. 171)

Grady is convinced — and convincing — that the admonition against women in the New Testament is an isolated case.

“While Paul once clamped down on a group of women in Ephesus and forbid them to teach; if we look at the women who served with Paul in gospel ministry, it is obvious that he empowered men and women and invited them to be part of his team.” (p. 172)

Then he provides a list of some standout examples:

  • Priscilla (Acts – note she is always mentioned before her husband)
  • Phoebe (deaconess of Romans 16:2; word is prostatus, which means presiding officer)
  • Nympha (Col. 4:15; no other leader mentioned)
  • Junia (Romans 16:9; not Junias, the male form, as some translations tried to change it to fit their theology)
  • Euodia and Syntyche (who Paul describes as ‘fellow workmen’ in Phil 2:3)

He then refers to Old Testament examples such as Sarah, Deborah, Hannah and Huldah; and then jumping to modern day examples notes that both Bill Bright and Billy Graham cite Henrietta Mears among their greatest spiritual influences.

At the end of the chapter, he concludes that I Tim 2:12, the verse that says,

NIV I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.

  • conflicts with the Old Testament
  • conflicts with Paul’s own practices
  • conflicts with his writing in other places which encourages women to participate

# # #

Because some of you are no doubt curious, here is the list of the ten lies covered throughout the book:

  1. God made men superior to women
  2. A man cannot be close to his son
  3. A real man is defined by material success
  4. A man is the ultimate boss of his family
  5. Sex is primarily for the man’s enjoyment
  6. It’s OK for a man to hit or abuse a woman
  7. Real men don’t need close male friends
  8. A man should never admit his weaknesses
  9. Real men don’t cry
  10. A man should never receive spiritual ministry from a woman

10 Lies Men Believe is available in paperback from Charisma House, at 14.99 U.S. and went on sale last month.  To learn more about J. Lee Grady’s Mordecai Project, a ministry to empower women around the world, click on the book image above.

December 2, 2009

Best of this Week’s Links

Before we get into this week’s lynx links, I want to refer back to something on this blog a few days ago.

When I wrote a post a few days ago questioning some aspects of the Samaritans Purse Christmas shoebox project, I was simply giving voice to some things that were rumbling in the back of my mind.   I was hesitant to formulate much more than a few random thoughts because I really thought I was alone in criticizing a program that is so widely subscribed to by local churches.

I was wrong.   When Sarah’s comment came, I realized I had only begun to scratch the surface of issues raised by the program.   Here’s a reprint of her comment, but I want to strongly recommend you visit the link, which documents why in one Canadian province, a large denomination isn’t encouraging support of the program.   It takes you to a 16-page (.pdf file) report of which pages 4 to 11 are most important and will only take you a couple of minutes.

Thanks for this article–I think all your questions and concerns are excellent. If you’re interested in more, with a powerful eyewitness story about shoebox problems, see http://ucskco.sasktelwebhosting.com/TheGiftMattersSchoolkit.pdf

It shouldn’t be about followup for the giver at all; that’s a form of strings-attached giving.

Additional questions:

Does this encourage children to value Western cultures more than their own?

Do “shoebox” gifts become better than something simpler made lovingly by a family member?

Are they introducing commercial gift-giving into a culture that doesn’t celebrate Christmas in that way?

Do they respect people of other faiths who don’t celebrate Christmas at all?

Do they portray one race/culture as being better or more successful than others?

Most importantly, how do they work to bring about real change, in places where the needs are for justice, peace, and access to the necessities of life?

~ Comment by Sarah Shepherd

Your responses to this can go here or in the comment section of the original post.    If anyone has seen other good pieces online where the program has been critiqued, feel free to put the link in a comment as well.

Other links this week:

  • Bill Kinnon looks at youth culture ministry and points out that, “What we win them with, is what we win them to. Win them with entertainment, and you’ve created customers – who expect to be continually entertained.”
  • Here’s a book that’s got me curious.   Trevin Wax reviews Chris Armstrong’s book Patron Saints for Postmoderns. “Chris focuses on ten ‘saints’ from Christian history and offers insights from their lives that can be learned and applied today.”
  • Some of the Christian cartoons I use here are a lot of fun.  This one digs a little deeper, and could only be written by someone with an intimate understanding of life in the Charismatic or Pentecostal environment.  So some of you are going to really, really connect with this, and others maybe not so much.   But if you’ve been in those circles, you won’t want to miss this.   Check out World of Dod’s blog.
  • Speaking of all things Charismatic, over a week ago Christianity Today did a really good article on that community’s voice of reason, Charisma magazine editor J. Lee Grady.   I also recommend subscribing to Lee’s weekly e-mail, although it’s bundled with other things from Strang Communications, so it’s an all or nothing subscription.
  • Our iKettle still needs the support of our Canadian readers.   Money given to the Salvation Army stays in the donor’s community.   Click here.
  • Jessica at the general-interest blog, Indexed accurately sums up why people feel the way they do about their wealth.    It’s all relative.    Ain’t that the truth!
  • Paul Stoecklein, author of the general market humor book You Had Me At Idiot, has a very irreverent post about surviving the Thanksgiving holiday in a ‘religious’ family.  Sample:  “Protestants are different. With them, saying grace is like really bad performance art. I swear, I think these people believe that saying grace should have been one of the categories on Star Search… Read — if you dare — the whole piece here. [HT: Shallow Frozen Water blog]

  • Christian apologist Josh McDowell and coauthor David Sterrett discuss why they wrote a book, titled ‘O’ God, about Oprah Winfrey and why they don’t think Christians are equipped to respond to Oprah’s ‘teaching.’  This link takes you a four minute video on YouTube.
  • Speaking of Christian Apologists, New York Magazine profiles Timothy Keller and his Redeemer Presbyterian Church in the Big Apple.  “Although relatively few secular New Yorkers know about it—Keller prefers to keep Redeemer mostly under the media radar… —an Evangelical Christian megachurch is growing in the heart of Manhattan.”
  • Carlos Whitaker invites readers at his blog, Ragamuffin Soul, to leave their favorite quotation.   So far, over 80 responses, but plenty of room for you to add yours.

August 1, 2009

Toxic Faith – A Religious Spirit

Those of you who are RSS readers will need to either visit the blog today, or click on the link below for text of today’s post (and yesterday’s for that matter).   J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma Magazine and one of my favorite columnists.   Here he addresses the issue of people who have “a religious spirit;” and eight warning signs if it might apply to you!

Lee Grady banner

To read the story at source, click here.

Grady part one
Grady part two

December 27, 2008

Has the Charismatic Bubble Burst?

Filed under: Christianity, Church, Religion, theology — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:19 pm

jleegrady_newThis post actually dates back to mid-November, but after reading it again, I wanted to share it with you. J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine shocked me when he said;

“Was it supposed to end like this? How did a movement that was at one time focused on winning people to Christ and introducing them to the power of the Holy Spirit end in such disgrace?”

For Charismatics*, 2008 wasn’t such a great year.   Go back to the beginning of the article here.

*Charismatics are distinct from Pentecostals, though many use the terms interchangeably.   In Australia, for example, members of  the non-mainline branch of Protestantism are called EPCs, short for Evangelicals, Pentecostals and Charismatics.   Pentecostals and Charismatics emphasize the power of the Holy Spirit and the supernatural gifts of the Spirit recorded in I. Corinthians.   Pentecostals trace their roots back to the early 20th century, while the Charismatic movement is more recent, dating back to the ’60s or ’70s.   In North America, the term Pentecostal is often reserved for those who are members of a Pentecostal denomination such as the Assemblies of God or the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.

December 11, 2008

Top Christian Newsmakers of 2008: Charisma Magazine’s List

Once again, editor J. Lee Grady and Charisma magazine have chosen their top 12 newsmakers for the year.   Not surprisingly, there are a few names here that may not be recognized outside the charismatic world, but it makes an interesting springboard for discussion.   You can read the list in its original context here.  Here’s the short version with a few comments of my own on the top ten (but be sure to read the original, also):

1.  The Martyrs of India – Religious violence in this country shows no signs of slowing down.

2.  African American Pastors – Chosen for their pivotal role in the outcome of the U.S. election (again, the significance on a world scale is lost here, as with other instances where the American Christian media can’t see past its own border.)

3.  Sarah Palin – Possibly America’s first  political Pentecostal at the executive branch level raised some key issues, but also provided late night talk shows with lots of laughs.

4.  Alex and Stephen Kendrick – The filmakers from Sherwood Baptist Church responsible for this year’s Fireproof movie as well as Facing The Giants.   (A great film, but the credits tell the film’s own story which is just as interesting.)

5.  William P. Young – The author of The Shack caused many heated discussions right here on the internet, and a million other places, too.  Probably got more people thinking theologically who had never done so much before.   But remember folks, it’s fiction.   Fiction.   Fiction.

6.  Bob Fu – Outspoken critic of China’s human rights abuses who Lee Grady says was a “voice in the wilderness” during all the Olympic glitz; Fu met with U.S. president Bush before the games began.

7.  Jim Garlow – California minister behind that state’s Proposition 8; injecting a traditional definition of marriage into the state consitution.   Google the phrase “Prop 8” to see how huge this issue was and is.

8.  Irene Gleeson – Didn’t know this story, though presumably Charisma readers did.   An Australian grandmother who started a school for orphans in northern Uganda which became the basis for a movie, Cinderella’s Children.

9.  Doug Stringer – His organization, Somebody Cares, played a key role after Hurricane Katrina and again this year after Hurricane Ike.

10.  Joe Stockstill – Youth evangelist sees about 100 kids come to Christ each week through a cell-based ministry.

So now then, what do you think of the list; the placement on the list; and who do you think ought to have been added??

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