Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. (Ruth 1:14)
A friend of mine told me of his daughter’s mother-in-law, whom she calls an “Italian Witch.” How sad when in-laws become outlaws, especially when this can be one of the most precious of all human relationships. When my wife and I married, we adopted each other’s mothers as our own, and immediately called them “Mom.” Although this caused a little confusion when both women were in the room at the same time, at least it did not cause any consternation, for both mothers received equal billing. The mother that raised us is obviously the one we’re closest to, but to honor our mother-in-law is a corollary to the law of marriage given in Genesis 2:24: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife.” Of course we never stop loving and honoring our parents, but a marriage where Mom remains the number one lady in a man’s life is doomed to destruction! But a husband that pours out love upon his mother-in-law demonstrates to both his own mother and his wife that he is truly leaving and cleaving, and an example is set for his wife, who will without doubt follow suit. In the case of Old Testament Ruth, both her husband and father-in-law had died. The same was the case with her sister-in-law, Orpah. Their mother-in-law, also destitute of all her men, was sure she would soon be totally alone, as these girls were young and pretty and surely would go back to their own country and religion, find a nice young man and start a new life. We think of a kiss as a gesture of deep endearment, but in this case the clinging of Ruth was the greater expression of love. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” In this case, shallow was the kiss of a daughter-in-law. It’s possible to cling to your blood mother too much (and some, like the “Italian Witch,” cling to their sons too much), but rare is the case where a mother-in-law is cared for and clung to too much. For Ruth it was more than a social error to leave her own kind, the Moabites, and stick to this foreign culture she’d married into, the Jews. But she had already seen the difference. Even in her deep depression, Naomi came through as a true daughter of heaven, and Ruth wanted in on that: “Where you go I will go,” she told her. “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16). It’s one thing for a mother-in-law to re-attach herself to her children, quite another for a daughter-in-law to cling to her adopted mom. And by the way, when a man looking for real love sees this kind of TLC in a woman, he will recognize it for what it is. For Ruth, loving Naomi was a win-win all the way around: No Italian witch for her, but a Israeli saint – and a rich Jewish hunk of a husband thrown in for good measure!
Bits & Pieces from Japan
8 years ago