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The Bro-mance

Posted by chesterlanducc on July 8, 2017 at 8:25 AM

For this sermon we read three different scriptures about David and Jonathan spanning two books of scripture.  The stories were spread out throughout the sermon but you can understand that sermon without reading the stories.  

My favorite story of relationship in all of literature is the 2,600 year old story of Jonathan and David. I first read this story when I was thirteen and I instantly related to passion and love and pain in this story.

The story of King David is truly one of legends—a Sheppard boy who with a fearless faith in God, becomes the fiercest and most dominant warrior in the history of ancient Israel. While also a poet and musician, King David is a womanizer and certainly someone who wrestles with his demons.

As a young man David catches the attention of King Saul, the first King of Israel. Saul is infatuated with David, until David’s exploits in battle and bravery begin to overshadow even that of the King. David becomes close to King Saul, marrying Saul’s Daughter Michal. But the real love of David’s life is Saul’s son, Jonathan.

Although not likely the case, if we were to read the story of David and Jonathan through today’s cultural lens, it would perhaps even appear to be a romantic story because of the language the writer uses to describe their intimate relationship. David and Jonathan love one another more than any woman—they love each other as much as their very souls.

The story however takes a turn and becomes a tragedy as King Saul’s jealousy leads him to order David to be killed. Even though David is a threat to Jonathan becoming the next King, Jonathan warns David of Saul’s plans and saves his life. King Saul realizing that Jonathan has betrayed him almost kills Jonathan and forever ends the relationship between the two young men.

The last time they meet is in secret. They weep, and kiss, and covenant together with God between them to protect each other’s descendants. The story only ends with more tragedy as David and his soldiers flee, a divided Israelite army is beaten battle and Saul and Jonathan die on the battlefield.

I read a Time Magazine article last year that was all about relationships and there was one article in particular about male relationships. The article said that men often have relationships while doing things together. Men often don’t just get together and talk about their feelings or their struggles with other men, but rather they play or watch sports together, they play on teams, they build things together.

While I want to be careful not to raise stereotypes of male and female relationships, I thought this was a pretty accurate perception of most of the male relationships I see. Most of the men I am friends with in Hiram, I have gotten to know by doing things with them. We will be at parities or events together with our families and we might chat a little, but mostly we stand around and drink beer and don’t pay attention to what our children are doing.

My wife and the wives of our friends often get together and they will watch a movie, or go out to dinner. One time they had an instructor lead a wine and painting session out at a little retreat like area.

I joke with Monica that most of the time when I hang out with just guys, we are butchering chickens together, or building a shed for the preschool or putting up fencing for the Hiram Farm. I got to know many of my guy friends when I remodeled my house and I would ask different people for help. As time went on we got to know each other better over replacing a pump in a tractor or water-heater that started to leak, or someone needed to borrow someone else’s tools.

A lot of my guy friends play sports together, hike or bike or rock climb. Some of them brew beer, or work on projects together. The Time’s article said that these types of relationships are important for men, but that they are fragile because if the projects, or the sports, etc… end, so might the friendships. The Times article also said that while men and women statistically have about the same amount of friendships when they are in their twenties, by the time as men get into their late 30s they fall behind women. As men get older is more likely they have fewer or no friends. And friendships and relationships are incredibly important to health and well-being. The article cited a study which compared the health outcomes of elder adults who were not in relationships having a similar chance of pre-mature death as smokers.

Faith communities are important opportunities for relationships of all kinds, but especially for men and intergenerational friendships. However, our church is about 70% women and quite a bit of the relationship building that happens in our faith community is female oriented—which is understandable. Those of us who are men, I think, are invited to reflect on the story of David and Jonathan and the benefits of male friendships.

This story is included in the Hebrew Scripture for a reason—the writers of book of Samuel must have seen value in telling the story of such an intimate male friendship. It is further interesting that God seems to be the foundation and the cement that holds their friendship together in the face of great conflicts. We as a faith community are invited to see how the divine is active in this relationship and what truths it reveals to us about the nature of relationship, both for men and women.

Let us reflect on this story of friendship and how God is present in these types of relationships.  Thanks be to God for God's stlll speaking voice.

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