We're lingering in the book of Ruth for one more week . . . did the title of this post catch your eye? I don't mean to be trivial, for our subject of study this week is pretty important.
Married or single, young or not-as-young-as-we-used-to-be, we have a responsibility as believers to remain morally and sexually pure. The characters in our focus passage modeled this for us, and I was struck by the opportunity to discuss something that is truly needed in our world, today.
First of all, let's look back at when Boaz first became aware of the presence of Ruth in his harvest fields. He cautioned the young men to be kind to her, and to "behave like gentlemen" in verse 9:
Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled. (Ruth 2:9)Boaz told Ruth that his young men would not stop her from harvesting, nor would they approach her. One has to imagine that in the harvest fields, a lovely young woman would attract attention, and he had cautioned his men "not to lay a hand on" her. Some scholars say it was just to allow her to glean there in the field, and others say that it was to make certain that she was not flirted with, or more. Maybe it was a little of both?
Boaz also gives us another example of purity when he discovers Ruth at his feet during the night. When he tries to turn over in his sleep on the threshing floor, he awakes to see her there. Ruth, beautifully clothed, smelling lovely, and probably looking radiant, reveals to him the kinsman relationship that Naomi has told her about. His response is mature, and he works to preserve her good reputation:
He takes no liberties with the young woman, and remarks that he is honored she sought him out, instead of running after a younger man. And he has her leave before daylight, so that no one can sully her reputation.
Oh, what a difference!
If this were a story or movie of today, there'd be more than sleep happening at that threshing floor!
All joking aside, Boaz and Ruth showed restraint and purity in their relationship. They knew that God intended for sexual intimacy to happen in the loving relationship of marriage.
Why is this so foreign to people today? Why is this considered "quaint" or old-fashioned?
What are young people bombarded with, in today's world? Why is this such a difficult challenge, this idea of purity?
Well, let us count the ways . . .
Pornography has come out of the dark closet and is paraded on Main Street.
The internet makes absolutely vile things available to the very young.
Homosexuality is seen as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, even something to emulate.
The television brings things into our living rooms that would have made us blush before -- now they don't seem to surprise or shock us anymore. Television shows routinely showcase adultery, premarital sex, quick abortions, lesbianism, abuse of both children and adults . . . the list seems to go on forever. It should not surprise us that young people and older folks alike have difficulty with the concept of sexual purity.
But as believers, we see a lot in the Bible about it!
Should we notice something in these verses?
See God . . . This is the will of God . . . .God called us . . . . glorify God.
Purity is not only about sex.
It's definitely not just about rules for what we can or can't do.
Purity is not just about what we watch, or what we read, or even what we say.
It's much, much more.
Purity is all about God!
We'll continue our study next time. I hope you'll join me . . . we need to remember to stay out of the dirt!