Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sharon Youngs' "A More Perfect Union:" My thoughts

Sharon K. Youngs speaking at the Presbyterian Covenant Network's Conference, Marriage Matters, focused on the story of Ruth and Naomi. In her speech, “A More Perfect Union,” Youngs told their story adding some extra details that could be considered clever, fun and silly. But, there is a problem with the story told by Youngs; not only does Boaz get short shrifted the Lord is also missing in the details. Beyond that is the hinted assertion that Ruth and Naomi are just the right image of marriage, And of course, sexuality is missing from this picture of marriage. So everything is messed up.

Friendship between two women loses its beauty as it is twisted to picture something else. The man and woman relationship seen by the various meetings of Boaz and Ruth is horribly distorted. She is the woman with integrity who takes care of her mother-in-law and claims the God of Israel as her own; he is the man who provides protection and sustenance to both Ruth and Naomi and in the end images the great Redeemer to come. And God's gift of a child to heal the hurt of past years is turned, somehow, into a gift by Ruth to Naomi.

Leon Morris in his part of the Tyndale Commentary on Judges & Ruth offers a much clearer picture of the book of Ruth. After pointing out the various suggestions for themes of the book, and evaluating them, he writes:
It is better to see it as a tale told because it is true and because it shows something of the relationship between God and man. There is a good deal to be said for the view that the key verse is 2:12, 'The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust' (AV). That is what the book is about. It is not without its interest that the initiative is with Ruth in chapter 2, with Naomi in chapter 3 and with Boaz in chapter 4. None of them can be said to be the person about whom the book is written. But the implication throughout is that God is watching over His people, and that He brings to pass what is good. The book is a book about God. He rules over all and brings blessing to those who trust Him.

As far as sexuality goes, as in the movie “Mostly Martha” where one of the most sensual scenes found in any movie, is an attempt to guess the ingredients in a pan of soup with her eyes covered, the scene of Ruth lying at the feet of Boaz, asking him to cover her with his mantle, is both romantic and sensual. That scene implies and points to the eventual sexual relationship they will experience in marriage. Leaving out this part of the story aids Youngs in telling the tale of marriage, in reference to same sex, as a possibility, but that is not a truthful narrative. 

And Youngs, who, probably unintentionally, makes a mockery of both marriage and friendship, with her speech, misses so completely a beautiful picture of the redeeming God that I have alluded to above. The author of the commentary on Ruth quotes G A F. Knight who asks this question about the author of Ruth as he writes of Boaz and his actions as a redeemer kinsman:

Did he realize that if a mere man, a creature of God, could behave in the manner described, and had indeed by his action exhibited the power to redeem an outcast and bring her into fellowship with the living God, than two things could be said of the Creator of Boaz? - (1) God must feel at least as compassionate towards all the Ruths of Moab and of Babylon and of every other land as his creature Boaz felt towards Ruth: (2) God must actually be a God of redemption, with the desire and the power to redeem all outcasts into fellowship with himself.”

In looking at the book of Ruth and pushing toward same gender marriage Youngs has missed two faith themes found in the book, the sovereignty of God and the redeeming purposes of God. Both marriage and singleness must, for the Christian, be nestled within those two themes. From this follows two importance aspects of the Christian walk, both obedience and trust. 

1 comment:

Chas Jay said...

Viola, thank you for such an excellent post. I am amazed at the short-sightedness of those that sexualize every relationship in the Bible. In doing so, are they also telling us that they are incapable of having any relationship except for sexual relationships which would also extend to their children that they love? Great darkness is presented in such twisting about these great friendships. The darkness is from the ones twisting for the purposes of their own agenda.