Lessons Learned: The Perfect Marriage?

The book of Ruth is about so much more than just marriage.

Introduction

The story of Ruth and Boaz always comes back to the idea of a perfect husband and a perfect marriage. Yet, reading back through the book of Ruth, one has to add a lot in to the story to get the story of romance people make it out to be. As I mentioned in the posts on each chapter, the story of Ruth and Boaz really tells the story of the Church and Christ. Personally, I think this is even more interesting.
Top

The Romance

Photocredit: FreeImages.com/Jennifer Freeman
Despite being unmarried, I'm well aware that any Christian marriage counselor will tell you that if God is not at the center of your marriage, you will not have a successful marriage. Amos 3:3 asks us the question "Can two walk together, except they be agreed." Generally this is used to confirm that we are not to be unequally yoked, but it also speaks about God being the center of a relationship—any relationship, really. If both people are walking together, they will end up in the same place, but who's to say that place is one of happiness? Two people could walk into adultery together for all we know. In the movie Why Did I Get Married? there is a scene where a husband nervously reveals that he caught an STD from a woman he cheated on his wife with; she shocks the whole table by informing him that he didn't get the STD from the woman he cheated with but from his wife who acquired the STD from a man she had cheated with. Dizzying? That's a whole lot of drama, but it seems like these two people were walking in exactly the same direction, it just happened to be a bad direction. The solution to that is to let God do the steering. If I'm walking with God and my spouse is walking with God, then we're clearly walking together, but we also are guaranteed to end up in a positive place.

Ruth didn't know much about the God of Israel when she was introduced. However, she took a leap of faith and chose to follow Him when she decided to stick by Naomi's side. Boaz also chose to follow God when he decided to heed God's commands about providing for the poor and widows. In following God, they found each other.

I'm not particularly qualified to speak on relationships and marriage, being that I am perpetually single and unmarried, but one thing I know that is illustrated by the book of Ruth, is that God orchestrates the right pairing at the right time. Ruth did not go to Boaz's barley field with the intent of finding a husband, and Boaz did not check on his field with the intent of finding a wife.

There is a saying to be dolled up and prepared because you never know where you'll meet your husband and another encouraging people not to cry/frown because "you never know who's falling in love with your smile." However, if a man or woman cannot accept you when you aren't dressed for the run way and they are not willing to comfort you when you are hurting, how is this the mate God intends you to spend your life with? Sure, first impressions go a long way, but does anyone think Ruth was Instagram ready and smiling as she struggled to harvest barley when Boaz first saw her?

God already knew that these two would meet and marry, just like He already knows who each of us will marry. He sets the stage and He brings the couple together when both people are ready. I know people who knew each other and were friends for a long time. Each person was dating someone else, and when their respective relationships crumbled they found their way to each other and are now happily married. One can always speculated what would have happened if they'd dumped their significant others earlier in life, would they have dated sooner, married sooner, etc.? Possibly, but the truth is, they weren't the same people when they first met. It was only after spending time alone and working on their relationship with God that they were ready to pursue the relationship God intended.

The concept of waiting for your Boaz (or waiting for your Ruth if you're a man) speaks of exercising patience while we grow in Christ. Just like my friends who found their way to each other later in their friendship, we have to be solid in our relationship with Christ first and foremost. It is only when we are rock solid in our connection to Him that we can fulfill the duties of a spouse.
Top

Controversy

This is why I think the underlying example of the love story between the Church (also known as the Bride of Christ) and Christ is what really establishes the book of Ruth. The problem is that so many people miss this underlying message

I've seen commentaries on the book that confuse Ruth's act of lying at Boaz's feet (Ruth 3:7-8) for the vulgar act of trying to seduce Boaz into consummating a marriage in his drunkenness. Pastor Deffinbaugh at Bible.org suggests that Naomi and Ruth schemed to wait for Boaz to be drunk, have Ruth slip into bed with him, and hope that he would sleep with her thus obligating him to marry her. This is the furthest thing from what is actually written. The act of lying at his feet is confirmed 3—there's that holy number 3—times.
And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.Ruth 3:4 KJV
And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down. 8And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet.Ruth 3:7-8 KJV
Ruth wasn't playing the role of seductive temptress, she was declaring herself a servant of Boaz. This is confirmed in Ruth 3:9 when Boaz inquires as to who she is and she replies " I am Ruth thine handmaid." It was common practice during that time period for servants to lie at the foot of their master, ready to aid the master should he (or she) need anything in the night. If any confusion enters from the use of the phrase "uncover his feet," which admittedly sounds like the euphemism for sex "uncover thy nakedness," it is cleared in Ruth 3:8 when Boaz wakes to find a woman literally lying at his feet. Notice that Boaz was afraid, then he turned himself and then he saw Ruth laying at his feet. Some suggest the word "feet" was a euphemism for male genitalia, but really if you start turning the word foot in the Bible to male genitalia, you're gonna get a really perverted reading of the scriptures... Which brings us back to logic. Let's say they're right that "feet" is a euphemism for Boaz's privates. Now that could be why he woke afraid, but if he turned himself, would not Ruth have been forced to move? Also, if Ruth was laying on his "uncovered" sexual organ, why did it take until he turned over for him to notice her? It doesn't make sense in the context of the scene!

This is just an effort to distract people from the real message. While people are entertaining lustful thoughts and trying to make the Bible out to be as pornographic as modern TV, they're missing the very real symbolism that Ruth was declaring herself as a servant to Boaz the same way we are to declare ourselves as servants to Jesus. Luke 8:35 tells us the man whom Jesus cleansed of demons was found sitting at Jesus' feet; Luke 10:39 tells us Martha's sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. Think of the countless worship songs that reference falling at the feet of Jesus. This is a sign of servitude and committing ourselves to Him. In the context of Ruth and Boaz, this was the sign that Ruth was proclaiming herself a servant of Boaz.

10And he said, Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich. 11And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.Ruth 3:10-11 KJV
Boaz's reply that she is a virtuous woman proves that Ruth was not in a compromising position!

Top

Relationship with Christ

I digress back to the point of the love story between the Church (also known as the Bride of Christ) and Christ. In the New Testament we are told to go to our closet and pray in secret; Ruth went in secret to ask Boaz to redeem her. There parallels are endless! What you should leave the book of Ruth with is an example of how Christ acts as our Redeemer, how we approach him for redemption and He settles the matter.
Top

References

  1. Annie. "When is a Foot Really a Penis? And Other Things the Bible Taught Me". AnnieGirl1138. 2011
  2. Davïd. "How does the act of “foot washing” lead to the act of “sexual intercourse”?". Biblical Hermeneutics. 2014

Post a Comment

About

Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
Distributed by Gooyaabi Templates | Designed by OddThemes