The acquaintance, let’s call him Bill, was using passages from 2 Samuel chapters 18 and 20, as well as 1 Samuel to suggest that God takes no issue whatsoever with homosexuality because God approved of David, who Bill argued, “was clearly a homosexual.” Bill zeroed in on Jonathan’s “love” for David and David’s “love” for Jonathan. Ratcheting up his argument, he quoted the last half of 2 Samuel 1:26, “your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women” [ESV]. Despite how one might feel about homosexuality, gay marriage, or California’s Proposition 8, we should not allow these feelings to mask the poor exegesis of the Second Samuel passages he used. We should also realize that his interpretation was relying strictly on the English word that represented the original Hebrew word. And he read modern concepts and meaning (loaded with ideas from present culture) into a text that was speaking to an audience with a different understanding of these concepts and word meanings.
Bill is an openly gay man who attends a church body that holds to a confession similar to Bill’s argument. Bill’s pastor is also openly gay, as are most of the men and women of Bill’s local church congregation. While it is not my point to identify the specific incorrectness of Bill’s exegesis of these passages (or his confession), it is easy to see that Bill’s statements rest comfortably in the subjective factors of his own background, political ideology, and congregational culture.
After Bill finished and the non-believers moved on, I asked Bill how he reconciled this belief with other scriptures found throughout the Bible. His response—focusing mainly around an argument that the Old Testament was written before Pentecost, without the Holy Spirit’s assistance, and that Paul’s statements were simply Paul’s own opinions—left me thoroughly confused about how Bill could still argue for the inerrancy of Scripture. Clearly, Bill’s exegetical methodology was not good and probably detrimental to his own faith. Even more troubling was how damaging his interpretation of specific scripture might have been to the non-believer’s understanding of the books of Samuel, the Gospel of Christ, or how Christians approach the Bible.
* Photo is registered under a Creative Commons License: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fatmanad/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0