May 22, 2015

The Bible and Homosexuality XVI: A Case of Homosexuality That Wasn't

Here is another in a long line of interpretive faux pas of Scripture. I present another pro-homosexual misreading of the Old Testament. 

Along the same lines as David and Jonathan we have Ruth and Naomi and the assertion that they were gay. Frankly, there is not much evidence to go on to defend a homosexual relationship in the Book of Ruth (Helminiak 126).  Again we are confronted with a single verse of Scripture to base a pro-homosexual interpretation on. As with Daniel and Ashpenaz, one cannot base an entire theological or interpretive claim on one verse of Scripture without committing a host of logic fallacies and interpretive errors too numerous to list here.

The claim is that Ruth 1:14 is a biblical assertion that these Biblical women were gay. They base a majority of their argument on one passage (like Daniel 1:9) that seems clearly torn from its context of loyalty and family and the overarching theme of the Kinsman Redeemer (Levirate marriage) in the book of Ruth (Cundall 242). It is in this passage that shows Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi (Cundall et al 259) that many within the homosexual community claim is  an affirming “messages for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people” (Would Jesus Discriminate?-Ruth and Naomi). They claim that in the story of Ruth we see the Bible address the question: Can two people of the same sex live in committed, loving relationship with the blessing of God? They are implying that this loving committed relationship could potentially be sexual.

Ruth 1:14 “And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.”

The focal point in this passage for the gay community is a single word: דָּ֥בְקָה /dabaq or clung. Orpah kissed her mother but Ruth, her daughter-in-law clung to her. The word דָּ֥בְקָה is indeed the exact same term used by Genesis 2:24 to describe the how man will leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife or specifically how Adam was to cling or cleave to Eve. It is a word that does show the unique closeness that can be experience in a marriage relationship (Wolf 522). Interestingly, the word order in the Hebrew places Ruth ahead of דָּ֥בְקָה /dabaq therefore it emphasizes the contrast between the response of Orpah and Ruth. The purpose of the writer of Ruth was to show the two women who were initially viewed as equals to be actually quite different. Orpah goes with a natural course of obeying Naomi’s wishes but Ruth picks the harder spiritual and emotional course but one that is more loyal to Naomi (Block 638).

This is a relationship of closeness founded in faith and loyalty not lust (similar to David and Jonathan). There is a familial relationship taking place here. It is indeed possible to have a very close familial relationship similar to that of a husband and wife in other relationships in a family. It does not follow that the relationship needs to also contain aspects of sexuality or eros like that of Adam and Eve. This is a fallacy called Affirming the Consequent. It is no different than saying: Gay people hug in a loving and affectionate manner, Naomi and Ruth hugged in a loving and affectionate manner, therefore Naomi and Ruth have to be gay. There are other reasons in Scripture that people clung/cleaved and they were not sexual in their motive. Clearly this passage concerning the gleaning of Boaz’s fields that uses the same verbiage is not homosexual in its intent and it resides right within Ruth:

Ruth 2:21 ~ Then Ruth the Moabitess said [speaking to Naomi], “Furthermore, he [Boaz] said to me, ‘You should stay close [cleave/cling] to my servants until they have finished all my harvest."

It is interesting to note that the supposed homosexual passage of Ruth 1:14 is immediately followed by a declaration of faith in God by Ruth (which is conspicuously absent from many homosexual arguments). Had these verse that immediately followed verse 14 been read and taken into account also in this context, it would easily dispel the assertion that Ruth is clinging to Naomi in a sexual or romantic manner. She is clinging physically to Naomi but spiritually and in the context of Scripture, she is clinging in faith to God.

Ruth 1:15-18 Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

Ruth immediately responds to Naomi in a theological manner in verses 15-18, not a homosexual manner. She states that Orpah has gone back to her people and “her gods.” Ruth then followed her initial statement with an immediate statement that she wouldn’t leave Naomi nor would she leave Naomi’s God. Far from being a sexual assertion, this passage is a profound theological statement from Ruth about her faith in Naomi’s God (the God of the Bible) and how that ties into her relation to Naomi (Block 639). This is an issue of spirituality, not sexuality. To read sexuality into this passage is to re-frame the context of the passage.

This scenario also begs the question. If Ruth was indeed a lesbian, why would she inevitably marry Boaz and also sleep with Boaz to produce offspring (Ruth 4:13). At the point of Obed’s birth we see Naomi taking the child, laying him in her lap, and becoming his nurse. This hardly seems like the behavior of a jilted lesbian lover.

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