In one of today’s Old Testament readings we have a beautiful description of Johnathan’s love for David: “. . . the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. . . .” (1 Samuel 18:1) This love caused Jonathan to covenant with David, giving him his robe “and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.” (1 Samuel 18:4)
I have felt this profound movement of the soul twice in my life. The first time was when I fell in love with the children I came to adopt, and the second was when I fell in love with Rosean, my partner. Both times my life was changed irrevocably and I wanted to respond with a covenant.
With my kids, I began the process of adoption which resulted, after a year, in me swearing before a judge that these children would be mine, my responsibility and my heirs.
With my partner, the covenant was, like Jonathan’s with David, a very private thing. Rosean and I swore our vows to each other. Most nights, before we went to sleep, we would ask each other, whimsically but also dead seriously, “Do you love me? Will you love me for ever? Will you be the mother of my children and the grandmother of my grandchildren?”
It was ten years before a priest who was willing to bless our union came into our lives. And when the Rev. Ann Fontaine agreed to preside at our commitment ceremony, I was not at all sure that it would make much of a difference.
We had 85 people at our ceremony. Many were Wyomingites who would never have dreamed they would witness two women “getting hitched”. Rosean and I publicly made our vows — and then our community made its pledge. Asked if they would support our relationship, all those hard-headed, God-fearing people shouted “we will”. And with that our relationship was given a place in community in the light of day. It could thrive and truly bless the world.
What would have happened, I wonder, if Jonathan and David had been able to make such a commitment to one another? If David could have been openly gay and still king — not needing to sneak around, being able to celebrate his love, being able to come before his people whole — perhaps many of his more egregious mistakes would have been avoided.
Even today many young men and women, finding their souls bound to the soul of another of the same sex, have to be duplicitous. Unable to give themselves fully to a heterosexual relationship and equally unable to remain celebate, they live out their most meaningful relationships in darkness. Some suffer such horror and despair that they take their own lives.
They need to know that their souls speak true. Their relationships are whole, blessed by God, and worth celebrating. Souls bound to one another are to be celebrated, a profound blessing to the world.