Same-sex attraction in the bible

Reading time 2 min.
Religion (illustrative)
Religion (illustrative)

The Bible approves and has positive stories of same-sex attraction involving love and deep friendship. For example David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, Jesus and two of his followers. As far as we know, these relationships were not sexual.

Men emotionally attracted to men


Jesus loved Lazarus (John 11:3, 36) and one of his disciples – probably John (John 20:2). In each case, an intimate buddies or mates type of love (phileo) is described. The closeness of Jesus and John is shown by John having the place of honor to the right of Jesus at the Last Supper (this is the meaning of the Greco-Roman expression reclining in Jesus’ bosom) (John 13:23 and 21:20). And when Lazarus died, Jesus cried his eyes out (John 11:35) before bringing Lazarus back to life.


Jonathan, a king’s son, loved David, a shepherd who became army chief and, later, king.

The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own self (1 Samuel 18:1). He made David enter three agreements of a political and, probably, emotional nature (1 Samuel 18:3, 20:17, 23:18). His love for David surpassed a woman’s love (2 Samuel 1:26). He greatly delighted in (or desired) David (1 Samuel 19:1), chose David as his companion (1 Samuel 20:30) and saved David’s life (1 Samuel 20).

Although the story does not specifically say that David loved Jonathan in return, it is still a prominent story of same-sex attraction and shows an intimate buddies or mates type of love. Incidentally, the main purpose of the story is to show that Jonathan wholeheartedly assented to David being king instead of himself (1 Samuel 23:17).

Women emotionally attracted to women

Ruth and Naomi

One Biblical story of same-sex emotional attraction and deep friendship is the relationship between Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi. Ruth gave up her family, country and gods to take care of Naomi and be her companion. Ruth vowed to remain with Naomi until death (Ruth1:16-17). It seems that there was a mother-daughter type of love between them.


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