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Should Women be Offended by the Story of Ruth?

offended womanWe finish the story of Ruth today. Read Ruth 4:7-22.

Let’s be honest. This story doesn’t make much sense to us in our culture. In fact, it can be quite offensive to women. What woman wants to identify with a story in which a woman has to sell herself to a man in order to find redemption, and the only redemption she has is that she gave birth to a male child? Even I find this difficult, and I’m a white dude.

Granted. Culture has changed. Through the grace of God and the teachings of Jesus, women have experienced greater levels of equality in society (not total equality, but at least it is way better than it was).

So, what do we do? Do we throw out the story of Ruth because it is oppressive? I suppose we could. If we did that, though, we would miss a very important lesson. We need to read this book like we read everything else in the Bible and try to understand it within its context.

This is a story of redemption, when understood in its context. It is a story of a bitter widow finding hope. It is the story of a foreign woman finding acceptance. It is the story of a rich, powerful man using his money and power to show generosity and provide redemption for those whom society has shunned.

This is our story. It is the ongoing story of how God works in the world. God has promised to bring healing and peace to the world that God loves. God works through ordinary and broken people like you and me to make this happen. God calls us each out of our despair, our alienation, and our selfishness and invites us to live for the love of the other, just like Jesus taught us and demonstrated with his love.

When we walk in the way of God, in the way of Jesus, which is the way of the cross, we find life where there was death. We find hope where there was despair. We find acceptance where there were walls of hostility. We find generosity where there was selfishness.

Eventually slaves are set free. Women and all marginalized people find equality and dignity. Wealthy people are set free from a false sense of security and find generosity. We find peace on earth and God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.

May we walk in the hope of Ruth today.

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