We Can Choose Our Family – Ruth 1:1-18

In this week’s lectionary podcast, we answer another listener’s question about unpacking shame. We checked our resources to see what articles we’ve written about shame, but we realized most of those have to do with our bodies and sex. So if you want to understand how shame culture impacts the social justice movement and how to talk about shame with others, make sure you tune in.

Then we queered a lectionary text from Ruth, where we see the loyalty of a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law. This text is often used to represent lesbianism, and is also used frequently in lesbian weddings. However, we share our thoughts on why we don’t see lesbianism in this passage. We also call on all queer folks to learn to read passages like this by understanding when and why it was written—more on that in this week’s episode.

Key Takeaways:

  • Life and Transfigured course update [0:39]
  • Being a life-long learner [4:24]
  • Listener question: unpacking shame [9:04]
  • Shame and justice movements [9:51]
  • What guilt can be an indicator of? [11:47]
  • Getting stuck in shame [13:45]
  • Queering the Bible: Ruth 1:1-18 [17:18]
  • Seeing queer in this passage, not lesbianism though [17:43]
  • Is this passage a gay love story? [20:43]
  • Why was this story written? [24:50]

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Ruth 1:1-18

During the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. A man with his wife and two sons went from Bethlehem of Judah to dwell in the territory of Moab. The name of that man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the territory of Moab and settled there.

But Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died. Then only she was left, along with her two sons. They took wives for themselves, Moabite women; the name of the first was Orpah and the name of the second was Ruth. And they lived there for about ten years.

 But both of the sons, Mahlon and Chilion, also died. Only the woman was left, without her two children and without her husband.

Then she arose along with her daughters-in-law to return from the field of Moab, because while in the territory of Moab she had heard that the Lord had paid attention to his people by providing food for them. She left the place where she had been, and her two daughters-in-law went with her. They went along the road to return to the land of Judah.

Naomi said to her daughters-in-law, “Go, turn back, each of you to the household of your mother. May the Lord deal faithfully with you, just as you have done with the dead and with me. May the Lord provide for you so that you may find security, each woman in the household of her husband.” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.

But they replied to her, “No, instead we will return with you, to your people.”

Naomi replied, “Turn back, my daughters. Why would you go with me? Will there again be sons in my womb, that they would be husbands for you? Turn back, my daughters. Go. I am too old for a husband. If I were to say that I have hope, even if I had a husband tonight, and even more, if I were to bear sons— would you wait until they grew up? Would you refrain from having a husband? No, my daughters. This is more bitter for me than for you, since the Lord’s will has come out against me.”

Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth stayed with her. Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law is returning to her people and to her gods. Turn back after your sister-in-law.”

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to abandon you, to turn back from following after you. Wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do this to me and more so if even death separates me from you.” When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her about it.

Photo by Matheus Ferrero

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