I was doing some reading this morning about the Bible and homosexuality on ReligousTolerance.org, and discovered that there are three possible same-sex relationships in scripture.
Ruth & Naomi
After the death of Ruth’s husband, Ruth tells her mother-in-law the following:
“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” – Ruth 1:16-17 (NIV)
This verse invokes such devotion that many heterosexual and same-sex couples use it during marriages and civil ceremonies. Some Bible scholars have speculated about a romantic relationship between between Ruth and Naomi, but there is no clear evidence in scripture. This theory is based on Ruth 1:14, which mentions that “Ruth clave onto her.” (KJV) The Hebrew word translated here as “clave” is identical to that used in the description of a heterosexual marriage in Genesis 2:24: “ Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (KJV)
David & Jonathan
“…the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. From that day, Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.” – I Samuel 18:1-4 (KJV)
The first part of this reading is pretty self-explanatory, but the latter part becomes even more clear when we understand that people in those days didn’t wear underwear. Disrobing in front of another man would have been extremely unusual behavior then and now.
“…and they kissed one another and wept with one another, until David exceeded.” – I Samuel 20:41(KJV)
This verse has been so controversial among Bible translators that it’s difficult to find two translations that are the same. The Living Bible completely removed the reference to two men kissing, changing it to shaking hands. The original Hebrew text translates as “the two men kissed and wept until David became great”. The word translated as “great” is “gadal”, which has lead some theologians to interpret this verse as sexual arousal.
“I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.” II Samuel 1:26 (KJV)
Since platonic relationships between men and women were unheard of in this time period, the only relations that David would have had with women would have been of a sexual nature. Comparing sexual love for women with platonic love for men makes no sense, so this verse could be referring to physical/romantic love.
Daniel & Ashpenaz
“Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” – Daniel 1:9 (KJV)
The original Hebrew words that describe the relationship between these two men were “chesed v’rachamim”. “Chesed” is commonly translated as “mercy” and v’rachamim” translates as either “mercy” or “physical love”. There is no reason to have the word “mercy” repeated, so some scholars believe the correct interpretation would be “mercy and physical love”.
Both men were eunuchs, which means they were castrated, so there is question about whether a physical relationship would have even been possible. However, males who are castrated after puberty have been known to retain their sex drives.
(The information at ReligiousTolerance.org was very useful in the writing of this entry, and I recommend that you check them out.)