I'm currently debating this with a fundamentalist Christian. The thing I picked up a long time ago is that Christians really don't know how much information is contained in the bible. When Christians read the bible the information goes right over their heads.
Let me begin by giving some back story to David and Jonathan and begin by clearing up some things. When most people think of David they think of King David and they view him as this virile, manly-man. However, people seem to forget that when a man is a boy or even a teenager that he may have been quite different. In this case, Jonathan was the oldest son of King Saul and was likely older than David. David was a young teenager and would probably be best described using the gay slang of "twink". He was young and skinny and was probably a pretty boy. David was a harpist in King Saul's court and Jonathan probably saw him often and crushed on him. However, the bible implies that this was 'love at first sight' for Jonathan. But it seems strange that Jonathan wouldn't have noticed David before. Also, it should be stressed that Jonathan is the assertive one in the relationship, with David being passive. Back in this time period there was much shame placed upon men who acted the passive role in homosexual relationships. Men who acted the assertive role were not subject to this sort of shaming. Because David was more of the passive figure this may be why there is no blatant terminology suggesting their homosexual relationship. Instead, it's subtle but it's still definitely there.
So let's start where they first meet, and the "love at first sight" stuff.
1 Samuel 18:1 KJV
And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
So Jonathan fell immediately in love with David the first time he supposedly saw him. Again, this is strange because he should have seen David often because David was a harpist in King Saul's court. So take of it what you will. In the bible, Jonathan fell in love with David at first site. His soul was merged with David's soul and he loved him deeply. No, nothing gay here at all! LOL
1 Samuel 18:3 KJV
Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul
So Jonathan and David make a covenant with each other because they loved each other so very much. What type of covenant, to be loyal to one another and love each other forever?
1 Samuel 18:4 KJV
And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.
So Jonathan strips naked in front of David. People back then didn't wear underwear. Jonathan was older than David. So Jonathan gets butt naked in front of David and hands him his robe, his sword, his bow and his girdle. This is a well known practice among men who are super close back then. It's a homoromantic and homosocial thing when two guys who loved each other dearly do this as a ritual to cement their relationship.
1 Samuel 18: 17-18 KJV
17. And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife: only be thou valiant for me, and fight the Lord's battles. For Saul said, Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him.
18. And David said unto Saul, Who am I? and what is my life, or my father's family in Israel, that I should be son in law to the king?
King Saul wants to give his eldest daughter Merab in marriage to David. Remember, people didn't marry for love back then. Marriage was a social and economic contract. However, David doesn't want to marry her. This is important because David is not stupid. David knows that marriage is a social contract. He knows it doesn't matter if he doesn't love Merab. Being the son in law of King Saul would be a very good thing for it would ensure his wealth and prosperity. However, David doesn't want to marry Merab. Strange. So King Saul gives her to another man. That's the point here. David didn't wan to marry her.
1 Samuel 18:20-21 KJV
20. And Michal Saul's daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.
21. And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain.
So David didn't want Merab. However, Michel, another of King Saul's daughters had fallen for David and wanted him as her husband. So she goes tell her daddy that she wants David and King Saul agrees. David goes on to marry Michal. However, at no time in the bible does it ever state that David loved Michal. David ends up with many wives and nowhere is it ever stated in the bible that he loves them. He lusts after them, or some of them at least, but David's great love of his life was with Jonathan. Jonathan is the only person whom David is revealed to truly love.
Now, let's focus on the last sentence in verse 21 above:
"Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain."
Basically Saul is saying that now David is his son-in-law for the second time. How can this be? He married Michal but that's the only daughter he's married. How can this be his second time being Saul's son-in-law? This verse must signify that King Saul recognized that Jonathan and David had some form of union!
1 Samuel 20:4 KJV
Then said Jonathan unto David, Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will even do it for thee.
So Jonathan says he will do anything for David. This just goes to show how strong his love for David was. It reminds me of that gay themed joke you hear from time to time, "I'll do anything...ANYTHING!" LOL
1 Samuel 20:30 KJV
Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother's nakedness?
Okay, this is going to take some explaining. I'm pretty sure the meaning of this verse goes right over people's heads. Believe it or not, this verse is King Saul admitting the homosexual relationship between Jonathan and David. People, this may be shocking to you but this was nothing back in this day. It was very common for young men to form temporary homosexual relationships, usually before they got married. King Saul is basically saying, "Look, I'm not stupid. I know you and David are more than just friends and you are bringing shame unto yourself." If that's not enough King Saul is also placing blame on Jonathan's mother. This is interesting because many fathers in modern times also blame the mothers when a son is homosexual, as if the mother did something wrong that caused it. Remember, before this time Saul has made no statement that he did not approve of their relationship. Before this time King Saul knew they were lovers and he approved and he even recognized that Jonathan and David had some form of union. Only now when Saul is upset and views David as a threat to the throne that he doesn't want his son in a homosexual relationship with David.
1 Samuel 20:41 KJV
And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded.
Okay, the problem here is not so much they kissed. People kissed a lot back then, even males with other males. What sets this apart is the last word, exceeded. So what does it mean? Well, honestly I can't tell you. It has two meanings. What you think it means is up to you. One view is that they cried and kissed each other but that David cried and kissed Jonathan more, that David was the more emotional of the two. Another and more controversial meaning is that that they cried and made out with each other until David got an erection.
Jonathan is killed in battle. David says this about him:
2 Samuel 1:26 KJV
I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
So David said his love for Jonathan was more than his love for women. People need to realize the importance of this. David would be what we would classify as bisexual. Jonathan would also be classified as bisexual as he too had a wife and a child. However, the great love of David's life was Jonathan. David ended up with multiple wives and many children. However, he truly only loved Jonathan. His dealing with women were strictly sexual and or part of a social contract. There is nothing in the bible about David ever loving a woman in the same manner as he loved Jonathan. He lusted after Bathsheba but he never, ever loved her with the same passion as he loved Jonathan.
I wonder if David thought of Jonathan often or if time eroded his memories. I would like to think that as David knew his time was growing short that he began to think of Jonathan more and more, perhaps hoping they would be reunited.