Friday, October 13, 2017

The Book of Ruth: Not the Love Story You Thought it Was

I feel like the book of Ruth has been overly romanticized. I always see Ruth held up as a biblical love story to remind girls that "God has a Boaz for you" (which, I must point out, is definitely never promised in scripture). I've heard summaries that go along the lines of "Ruth waited and God provided the right guy for her". Now, yes, that is true, but also take note that Ruth's first husband died. The account of Ruth is far more than some cute little story about a young woman waiting for the right guy.

At the start, Ruth's mother-in-law, Naomi, becomes a widow. Shortly thereafter, Naomi's two sons die and that leaves Ruth and her sister-in-law, Orpah as widows also. Naomi plans to return to her people but urges the girls to stay and find new husbands while they're young. Orpah agrees, but Ruth does not want to leave her grieving mother-in-law on her own. Ruth's mind was not on finding a new man to be with, but on being there to support her mother-in-law in the worst time of her life.

When it comes to Ruth meeting Boaz, it was never presented that she fell in love with him, as we might like to think. She does intentionally put herself in his presence, but it is because the custom of the day was for a widowed woman to be "redeemed" by a close relative of her husband. The idea behind this act was not to find new love, but to perpetuate the family name of the deceased husband. Boaz praised Ruth for not going after the younger men, but rather choosing to honor her husband by seeking a redeemer with whom the family line could continue through.

The moral of this story is not that God will provide a man for every girl who waits. The real lesson here is that Ruth chose to make love an action in her life and God blessed her through it. Ruth chose to love and support Naomi in her hardest time rather than seeking a new man to marry. She also chose to love and honor her deceased husband by finding a relative with whom to continue the family line. Did she find a man to love in all of this? It appears so. Was that her primary goal? Not in the least.

Read the story for yourself in Ruth 1-4.

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