As soon as 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 Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. (1 Samuel 18:1-5)
I don’t hear this often, but I have heard some people claim that David and Jonathan were gay based on this passage. After the death of Jonathan, David laments by saying
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. (2 Samuel 1:26)
MORE than a woman?! Sounds suspicious, don’t it?
I see no reason to think so, though. Two persons of the same sex can love each other deeply and it not be romantic at all. In our culture it seems strange for guys to show deep affection for each other, but it isn’t always this way in other cultures or in history. I personally have a deep love and affection for a few male friends of mine. I call them brothers because I love them. I hug them, lean on their shoulders, etc. It’s intimate, but I certainly feel nothing romantic towards them!
John Newton (the pastor who wrote the hymn, Amazing Grace) and his friend, William Bull, wrote pretty affectionately towards each other as well, and they certainly weren’t gay.
By the mid-1770s they had become intimate friends. “I love you; I love your company because I believe the Lord speaks through you to my heart, and therefore I wish to see you as often as I can,” wrote Newton to Bull. Bull later characterized their friendship in equally affectionate terms, writing to Newton, “Sometimes I think nobody loves me, and it makes me very low. But I know you do, and I am sure Jonathan did not love David more than I do you.” (1)
So I don’t think the language the Bible is using is conveying anything but a deep friendship, not a romantic one.
(1) Aitken, Jonathan. John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007. Print.