Men and Women and the Need for Virtue

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Learning for Life: 9:30 am 
Worship Service: 11:00 am

Bulletin: October 14, 2018

NewsletterOctober 2018

Scriptures: Ruth 3-4; Psalm 17


Rev. Joel Russell-MacLean

After a long day’s work at harvest time, the people in the village had gone to bed. In the middle of the night, in the dark of a night without lights, a woman silently approached a man fast asleep. Uncovering him, she laid down next to him.

Even 3000 years later and in different language, this is a dramatic scene. Just what kind of story is this?

Ruth doesn’t hide the threats women faced or the risks they took in the face of famine, poverty, or assault. Ruth is also clear about the ambitions and longings of the women in their story.

As the story moves toward its resolution, we also find ourselves momentarily in the men’s world and priorities: the village hierarchy, the legal proceedings, the record of the male line, and the promise of a future king.

Men and women in Ruth have different longings and social roles. The drama plays on the tension between these differences. However, Ruth presents men and woman as complimenting each other when virtue and faithfulness control them.

Ruth and Boaz’s loyalty was not first of all to each other: they trusted God ahead of everything else.

Ruth and Boaz risked everything by going far beyond what was expected of them, trusting in God’s loyalty and kindness in their risks. Through their relationship, God blessed the community far beyond all the prayers and longings of the men and women of the story.


Jane Austen captured (among other things) the tension between virtue, and longings and ambitions of men and women, in her novels. In this scene from “Pride and Prejudice, she gently exposed one way we go astray: “The Accomplished Woman

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