“…Give up requesting me to go away from you…for where you go I will go…your people will be my people, and your God my God…
And when she [Naomi] saw that Ruth was strong in her purpose to go with her she said no more”.
– Ruth 1:16,18 [Bible in Basic English, BBE]
I write today with courting singles in mind. For the purpose of this piece, I call them ‘The Church of the Courting Singles’.Over the years, I have been fascinated by the Biblical story of Ruth and Naomi. I recall my excitement when I discovered Ruth eventually plugged into the prophetic becoming an ancestor of the Lord Jesus. Today though, it is how she came in there that captures my thought.
It is noteworthy that she knew nothing of this prophesy – absolutely nothing – for she was a Gentile. She had married a Jew though, one of the sons of Elimelech and Naomi, her parents in-law while the latter sojourned in her country.
Ruth had the opportunity to marry a Moabite but she, for unknown reasons, chose Chilion one of Elimelech’s sons. He like his big brother and Dad passed on, leaving behind two young widows of whom Ruth was one.
Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law decides it’s time to head back home. In so doing she closes accounts with everyone, but Ruth would none of this. The older woman’s logic and argument are poignant:
“Go back, my daughters, and go your way; I am so old now that I may not have another husband. If I said, I have hopes, if I had a husband tonight, and might have sons, would you keep yourselves till they were old enough? Would you keep from having husbands for them?…” – Ruth 1:12-13 (BBE)
But stronger was the resolve of the young woman Ruth,
“…Give up requesting me to go away from you…for where you go I will go…your people will be my people, and your God my God…the Lord do so to me and more if we are parted by anything but death.” – Ruth 1:16-17 (BBE)
As far as I am concerned, it was already a difficult proposition marrying across ethnicity and if death had legitimately terminated this, why would Ruth persist?
From her response at the contrary persuasion of Naomi, I see that the Jewish family, especially her mother-in-law burnt an impression into her she couldn’t let go. She loved Chilion no doubt, but more than that, she loved her husband’s people and what they stood for. Her man was gone, but not her love for what he represented in her heart.
Daughters-in-law are not usually the best of friends of their mothers in-law; not so with Ruth and Orpah, the former especially. They would go with her even when her sons, their husbands, were dead and gone.
It is a mistake to marry one whose people you quietly despise in your heart. If you can’t stand them, please don’t marry one of theirs. For the love of you, s/he might forbear, but that would be short-lived or at best acted courtesy.
Are you merely or barely tolerating your partner’s relatives and the people that matter to them? Do you know the people that matter to her/him in the first place?
True, you are headed for a unification, but that is by no means estrangement from her/his kith and kin. If their morality is the concern, then fine, you could talk that through. But if it is just an unfounded irritation, counsel – quit the relationship, it is a disaster waiting to happen. Not too long into marriage, you would either say or do something that offends your partner or and their people. It would be the beginning of a sour relationship.
Ruth loved her husband’s mother, her mother-in-law’s people and God. She saw the ways of this Jewish family and that is just what she wanted. She wasn’t there like Jezebel or Solomon’s wives, intent on changing her husband or his allegiance to Jehovah. Yours may not be as bad as trying to make your partner an idol worshiper, but do you consider your culture and traditions superior to that of your partner? Do you sneer at hers/his in your heart, purposing to change all that as soon as the marriage seal is on? Do you resent your to-be in-laws?
Simple test: how do you relate in your heart and outwardly with your partner’s people – parents, siblings, kinsfolk, acquaintances etc? Do you genuinely love them?
Ruth was more than emotive. She went the distance, and upon the initiative of her ‘former’ mother-in-law, she remarried a relative of her late husband with no particular responsibility to do so. She left her own parents, people and geographical nation and in the process walked into magnificent divine heritage! Awesome!
May the Lord bless us, all single fellows especially with this sort. And the Church shall say…. “Amen”.