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.