Getting to Know You

And her mother-in-law [Naomi] said to her [Ruth], “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man's name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” Ruth 2:19

Much of who we are and how we see the world is shaped by our earliest childhood experiences. As children, we often assume that life as we are experiencing it is normal and that other people have a life that is much like our own. This was my assumption when I was a child. Since I did not travel far from home, most of the people I knew lived as our family did, and so I assumed that we were typical in our culture and customs.

However, once I got older and travelled to different nations to experience different cultures, I quickly realized how differently various people live their lives around the world. This is especially true of relational issues such as how men and women interact, conduct romantic relationships, and marry. The difference between, for example, how a free-spirited, single American living alone in a condo uses social media and technology to go on casual dates and have casual sex could not be more different than how a devout young Muslim woman in a Middle Eastern home dresses and dates.

The culture we are born into and raised in usually seems “normal” to us since it’s all we’ve ever known. But Western culture today has undergone radical shifts in recent generations that cause it to be quite unlike the way other people in generations past and in present cultures around the world live life. For the first time in U.S. history, for example, the majority of adults are now single, and it’s common to view pornography, have sex before marriage, cohabit, and wait longer to marry (for first marriages, men are waiting until they are around 30 and women are waiting until they are in their late-20s).

Contrast this to the book of Ruth. At this point in the story, the main characters are all single: Naomi/Mara the bitter, but not entirely hopeless mother-in-law; Ruth, the single, godly, and hardworking new believer; and Boaz, the unmarried, godly, and successful businessman whose field Ruth “happened” to end up gleaning. How will these single people respond to their life circumstances?

  • If you are married or in a relationship, how did you and your spouse/significant other start your relationship? What do you think you did right? What do you think you did wrong?