|Was Jesus gay?|
Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
This verse has been cited in the past as alleged proof that Jesus was homosexual. I imagine there are a few other verses used for this, and I know some folks like to claim David and Jonathan were gay lovers as well. One particular site admits there is no evidence of Jesus having a gay relationship, but uses this verse to say, "The incident makes clear that an emotional relationship existed between Jesus and the disciple closer than that which existed between him and any other, including Peter."
To put it bluntly, such arguments view intimate relationships through jaundiced Western eyes. Put your head on the breast of another man today here in America, and the jokes will fly. But in the ancient East, not so; and even today, such affectionate displays are typical on that side of the world, and well-publicized (remember all the news clips of Arab and Middle Eastern leaders kissing each other on the side of the face?), which is probably why we don't hear these sorts of verses brought up in service of homosexual Bible characters, except by the incredibly underinformed.
Abraham Rihbany (The Syrian Christ, 65), a native of the East early last century, bore with some patience the misinterpretations of modern Westerners who read the Bible through their eyes and tastes and missed certain points about what was being said and done. The particular instance of John 21:20 represents a custom "in perfect harmony with Syrian customs. How often have I seen men friends in such an attitude. There is not the slightest infringement of the rules of propriety; the act was as natural to us all as shaking hands. The practice is especially indulged in when intimate friends are about to part from one another, as on the eve of a journey, or when about the face a dangerous undertaking. Then they sit with their heads leaning against each other, or the one's head resting upon the other's shoulder or breast."
By the same token, Easterners will use "terms of unbounded intimacy and unrestrained affection" to one another: "my soul," "my eyes," "my heart." Paul's holy kiss (Rom. 16:16, etc) is no more of a homosexual exchange.
Critics should not read Eastern custom in Western terms when they make their arguments.