Monday, May 24, 2010

Love As Loyalty

My niece's wedding was this past Saturday and she asked me to read a passage from the Book of Ruth (1:15-18). This passage is often read at weddings and I've transcribed it below.

"Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
Where you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
and your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die--
there I will be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!"

The words above were spoken by the Moabite, Ruth, to her mother-in-law, Naomi, who is a Hebrew. Naomi has migrated from Judah to Moab with her husband and sons during a famine. After settling in Moab, Naomi's sons both married Moabites. Tragically, Naomi's husband and her two sons die. Thus, Naomi and her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, are widows.

When Naomi decides to return home to Judah, Ruth and Orpah follow her. But she entreats them to turn back and make a life for themselves in their own country. Orpah does this, but Ruth refuses to leave Naomi.

The story of Ruth is a story of deep love, tragic loss and amazing loyalty. Because of her deep love for Naomi, Ruth is willing to leave everything familiar behind. This is an amazing example of love as loyalty. Perhaps this is why the verses above are often read at weddings.

Love-as-loyalty shows that love is a decision, an act of the will. Surely, love-as-loyalty is important to successful marriages, but also to successful friendships and family relationships. Loyalty is what keeps us committed to a relationship when feelings of love are diminished because of an argument, a betrayal or misspoken words. We can't rely on feelings of love alone when it comes to our closest relationships, even our relationship with God. That's why we need love-as-loyalty.

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