Creating and Finding “Jonathan- and- David” Friendships
I love the story of Jonathan and David. In fact, it is one of my very favorite stories in the Bible. There is so much taught in that story and it leaves me ever searching for those kind of friendships in my life.
I believe most men are looking for the Jonathan and David experience in their lives. It is not just “gay” men that are looking for deeper more meaningful friendships, it is nearly all men. Some will not admit it, but there is something God-given in all men to seek the companionship of other men in their lives and to have more meaningful friendships.
I refute the Gay Community’s declaration that the story of Jonathan and David is the perfect story of two gay men engaged in a “romantic relationship”. It is the perfect story, but it is not a story about a gay romance, and the story does not condone in any way sexual relationships between men that love each other. It is an amazing story of two men who had an amazing platonic relationship, meaning deeply loving and affectionate, but non sexual relationship/friendship outside the covenant of relationships with their wives. It is made clear in the scriptures that these men had wives and were attracted to women. It was also made clear that they had an amazing relationship with each other; one that would transcend most friendships in our culture today.
How much clearer can it be when it states “Their souls were knit together as one.” Later when David declared that his love for Jonathan even exceeded his love for women. Could it be any clearer of a view of how they felt for each other? It does not say that they did not love their wives. We know David loved and even lusted after Bathsheba to the extent that he sent her husband to his death over it, so that he could marry her. .
So, from this story we know that both of these men loved women. What I marvel at is the love they shared for each other. Jonathan was the rightful crowned prince of Israel and David was chosen by God to be the King. Jonathan had every right to not like David, considering David took his throne that he had been training to inherit take his whole life. But Jonathan chose to love David; and not just to love him, but to protect him all his life, even at the risk of his own life.
My personal belief is that David made the poor choice of sending Bathsheba’s husband to his death because Jonathan was not there to look after him. Jonathan spent his life protecting his friend and keeping him out of danger. True friends do that. No matter the cost, a true friend looks out for his friend, protecting him from harm in any way, spiritual or physical. Jonathan was that type friend to David.
The real secret for success in their friendship, however came down to the crucial fact which Jonathan stated to David several times. “The Lord is between me and thee.” That tells me so much about creating good friendships. When we place the Lord in the center, true friendships are created, and there is an increase which cannot come in any other way. It deepens the bond and takes it to a higher level than the standard the World touts.
The World’s standard is often sexually based and sexuality is encouraged. Often times this means creating relationships that completely over look the central role the Lord plays in strengthening our friendships when we include him in the middle.
That does not mean there cannot be a physical attraction or even a physical experience in the friendship. It means to me, that we must go against the standard of the World by creating Jonathan- and- David type friendships by not having sexual relationships with our friends; physical yes; but not sexual. I believe that a healthy, physical connection is vital to strong, deep, meaningful friendships.
Jonathan and David were covenant-keeping men. They loved the God of Israel and were men of integrity and men of God. Did they make mistakes? Of course! They were not perfect men, but they truly understood the power of centering the Lord in the middle of their friendship and this is what gave their friendship its strength and depth.
As men, how do we find and create this type of friendship? Friendships that over time increase in love and beauty? Friendships that have the Lord in the middle?
I have pondered this and studied this concept for many years, and I want to share what I have learned with you in the hope of your gaining a better understanding of how, as covenant men we can create those covenant relationships with other men which can fill our emotional, spiritual, and physical needs.
First, I believe we have to be brave. We have to be willing to step out of our comfort zones; and yes, even maybe even experience rejection. As we learn to understand and act upon the things we are feeling, we will have greater opportunities of finding and creating our own Jonathan- and -David experiences in our lives.
I know for a fact, that we all have had those moments when we meet someone and are blown away by our instant bond with each other, when we feel things so deep we cannot put them into words. I have learned over the years, that, when I feel that, I have to act. I have learned not to ignore those feelings. For what reason, or where they come from, I don’t totally understand, but what I do understand is that it’s a signal for me to act and to reach out and make a connection. Every time I have done that I have ended up with a friend. And depending on where they are in their journey, I have created a Jonathan- and- David type friendship. I also wanted to mention, and emphasize with conviction, don’t limit yourself on how many Jonathan- and -David friendships you can have in your life. There are no limits! Remember, the human heart has an unlimited ability to love as many as deeply as we can or want. I have often pondered what David’s life would had been like after Jonathan passed if he had a backup Jonathan. Meaning we need more than one Jonathan or David in our lives. Having many increases the joy we can experience here in this life.
Not all men are ready for that type of friendship, but regardless, all men are ready to be loved and affirmed. Some men that I have loved so deeply are just not there yet, but I know I have touched their hearts and do not regret ever reaching out and enjoying the experience with them. I have learned we all have our agency and we have to let others practice theirs.
There have been times when I have reached out and totally scared the person at first. After al, l it can be overwhelming when a man hugs you and whispers in your ear that you are supposed to be best friends, or just walks up to you and tells you he has a huge man crush on you. Those things can catch men off guard. My wife constantly tells me that I cannot just go around telling men I have crushes on them. I told her that men love that and I have found that many of them do. All men love affirmation and love to be seen and love to be told they are amazing.
I often think about how I feel when another man affirms me. Wow, it is like pouring healing salve into a deep wound. It is healing, life changing, and takes my breath away. If I feel like that, I have learned that most men feel the same way and most men live in fear of rejection, just like I have done in the past; and to be honest I still fear rejection.
I met a man once, and was instantly connected to him. He was connected to me also, I could tell. I walked up to him and introduced myself to him, and after we had talked, I told him that I had felt a connection to him. He told me he had felt the same but never would have been brave enough to do something about it.
The amazing thing is; when we are brave miracles happen. Most of all my Jonathan- and- David friendships happened because I was brave and made the first move. Most men feel something, but have no clue what to do. Most men, if not all, are afraid of rejection or feel extremely embarrassed expressing what may be deemed as homosexual feelings so they completely close themselves off to the expressing their desires for connection. We need to be willing to take the initiative to open up about feelings.
Second, we need to truly understand who we are as men. We are sons of God with great power to affect those around us. We can bring them down or we can lift them up to a higher level by our actions. When we truly consider that other men are our brothers, and we have a solemn responsibility for their welfare, it changes the whole picture. Jonathan understood this. He understood that God had called David to be king and was anointed by God, he honored that with all of his heart. I believe that as we accept Christ in our lives, we are anointed by God, and as we honor our brothers, as Jonathan honored David, we would never put them in harm’s way, physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
I have learned how important it is to cherish other men as men of God and brothers in Christ. That mindset sets the stage for building stronger deeper friendships. Being open and honest and setting proper boundaries are vital for developing this type of friendship.
Third, we need to understand how important it is to not be afraid of the physical part of a friendship. I feel deeply that the fear of the physical aspect is one of the things that can hold us back in creating deeper friendship. For me, that is one of the most cherished parts of the friendship. I am a very touchy- feely person. Not all are, but most want and desire healthy, physical connections. We have to face that fear and be open about it. How can your hearts be knit together as one if you have never enjoyed a deep embrace, a heartfelt hug, a meaningful touch, or even a kiss on the cheek? We are physical beings and even more than that we are spiritual beings. When we physically touch I believe that our spirits likewise connect, and by that connection we are bound together in deeper and more meaningful ways.
When I embrace a friend I learn so much about them. You can feel where they are and how they feel emotionally and spiritually. It can be an amazing experience! On the other hand, I do have to say, that when the physical aspect goes too far-as much as good physical enhances the bond-inappropriate physical touch can do immense damage to the bond and friendship, especially in the long term. Unhealthy, physical touch leads to destruction of what you are trying to build, in the process of creating a Jonathan- and- David friendship.
Men are craving deeper, healthy, loving, physical friendships. As men, we need to stand up for, look for, and create them. We have to drop the fear of rejection and shame for wanting something, that, I believe, is God- given in each of us and so needed for us to continue on our own journeys in this life.
No matter where we are in our journey, we need the support and affirmation of great men around us. We need men who protect and look out for our best interests, even at the peril of their own lives. This, to me, means that a true friend would never compromise my relationship with God, or others whom I have made covenants with. Jonathan and David were covenant men.
Their Friendship must be a model that we use today to create deep, meaningful friendships, which truly express that “The Lord is between me and thee.”