The Scriptural tour de force published as a letter to the editor in a recent Providence Sunday Journal alleging that Jesus Christ was a homosexual demands a response. I would gladly write to the Journal itself, but since I have had a letter published in the recent past, they will not honor me so soon again.
The tired allegation that King David and King Saul's son Jonathan had a homosexual relationship is a wearisome exegesis. Jonathan was the active king's son. By any right, he should have been the heir to the throne. By having Jonathan defer to David, a mere Johnny-come-lately, the sacred author was according legitimacy to the reign of King David and to all that David represented, especially unity of all tribes around Jerusalem. Jonathan was not so much a symbol of affection as a symbol of allegiance to the Davidic line which the authors of Jewish history were intent to affirm.
As far as Jesus gathering 12 men around himself as disciples being a sign of homosexuality, what would the letter writer have expected Jesus to do? According to this reasoning, had Jesus gathered 12 women around himself, he would have been a lecher.
Moses gathered 72 men about himself as advisors and supporters. No one interprets this as questionable. And as far as Jesus being unmarried, clearly he was bearing witness to ultimate fulfillment being beyond the joys of the world. Jesus' celibacy, as all effective celibacy, was a striking witness to the supernatural.
Finally, St. John's proximity to Jesus during the last supper makes much more sense if the reader remembers that the ancients "reclined" at table - they did not sit at table like we do. With everything stretched out on or near the floor, there probably were many contortions that would surprise the modern diner. Furthermore, to this day, overt signs of fraternity among Middle-Eastern men are much more frequent then are found in our post-Puritan, post-Jansenist Western society.
Father John A. Kiley
St. Francis of Assisi Church
(This letter originally appeared in The Providence Visitor)