The kiss in the Bible (The kisses of Jonatan and David)

A Latin American (except for Argentines) reads this from the kisses of David and Jonathan (1S 20:41) and will take one of two reactions: if he is a homosexual or someone of advanced will say "what's wrong? Leave the prejudices! "If it is not, it will say:" And what are these guys? That is as weird. "

The above is a small example of what happens with the reading of the Bible; we read it from our presuppositions. Can not it be a different way; We can only read like that. However, the reader should be careful to violate the text. While subjectivity is preciso, we are not condemned to subjectivism, however fashionable it may be and by many sophisticated names put in English or French: "reader-response criticism", "différance", "deconstruction". It is funny to see the defenders of these ideas talking about their bad interpreters.

Another example: If a court by means of a sentence imposes on an irresponsible parent a monthly sum to pay the support of the children that he left, that father is not free to interpret the document at will. While interpreting the children, they die of hunger. The authorities will remove him from doubts with an requisa or an imprisoned one and they will ask him: "what did he not understand?"

The books of the Bible were written from a specific worldview and culture, in concrete historical circumstances, for actual people in particular life situations. It is not always possible to determine everything exactly, but that is precisely the task of the interpreter: to go beyond mere intuition. Getting to the Bible is like arriving in another country. There are common customs, others suspicious and some that we do not understand. You do not realize that with the Bible because you read it translated; he understands everything (the reader thinks) and he does not hear any accent, because he himself is the one who reads. But when you are in another country, especially if there is another language spoken there, you will notice differences: you will notice that in one country people on the train do not look at you, in the other they look at you too much; a woman is offended if a man opens the door, another if he does not open it; in one country people religiously respect traffic signals, in another they do not exist or are completely ignored; when they eat, some belch in satisfaction, others almost do not move their mouths; there are people who, instead of talking, shout, others are not heard when they speak; There are countries where men greet each other with kisses, in others they just give one the finger tip. That is the culture. The foreigner can not take much or criticize so much.

It is very different to see two men kissing each other in London or San Francisco than in Buenos Aires or the Bible. By the way, merienda I was in Buenos Aires, I was careless and a guy kissed me goodbye. On another occasion, an African grabbed my buttock to tell me he wanted to tell me something. I almost hit the latter. For me it was a great offense, for him an act of kindness. Neither of them was homosexual or making proposals to me. But the fact that they do it does not mean that I should do it. It is not a honrado duty, but a cultural custom. A reservation must be made. Not everything culturally accepted is the best or the most human. There are harmful and dangerous cultural practices that must be reviewed and changed. That is why every culture must be self-critical.

How should the kisses of David and Jonathan be read then? If we say that David was gay, we would have to say that he was hermafrodita because he had a wife. It is not a matter of "why not" or "this is weird"; it's about understanding the kiss culture as they saw it. There are cultures where the greeting of kiss between close men is común. The biblical culture is one. A different behavior would imply distance or rejection. That is, they are not rare or homosexual.

Finally, the last thing that would have crossed the mind of the flamante readers for whom this story was written is that David and Jonatan were homosexuals. On the other hand, this is a kiss accompanied by crying. It would be like saying that Snow White was a prostitute who slept with the 7 dwarfs, one every night. The reader who interprets it would be considered not only an incompetent reader, but a degenerate one. But if you still want to justify homosexual behavior with the Bible, you will have to look for another story because it has nothing to do with it. © 2009Milton Acosta

Milton AcostaAuthor: Milton Acosta

Professor of Old Testament in the Biblical Seminary University Foundation of Colombia (; Old Testament Editor for the Contemporary Biblical Commentary; M.A. Wheaton College Graduate School- Ph.D. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Old Testament).

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