I was startled. I never had this response. As a young man, my dad was working to teach me proper gentlemanly behavior. One of the first lessons you learn is to open the door for a lady. I was holding the door open, when a woman approached and chided me, “I don’t need anyone to open a door for me!” She said other things and I was stunned! I believe one of my parents interceded and explained, “we’ve been teaching him to be a gentleman.” However, the woman was not impressed. It was disconcerting to me.
In the book of Judges, you may have noticed the disintegration of the respect given to women. The book begins with Deborah the prophetess. She is highly respected, but throughout the following stories women are mistreated and objectified until the final story of the priest’s concubine who was so mistreated, she died! The priest was inhumane when he hewed her in pieces as a message to all of Israel. Could society get any darker and perverted? Along the same line of degenerative treatment of women, you will notice the nation of Israel increases in its godlessness.
In the ashes of this society, Ruth stands as a jeweled monument of the order and delicacy of God’s design. Ruth is elegant and meek. Boaz is chivalrous and heroic. All of the qualities you expect to find in a sweet romance are present. Someone once said, “The way you get them is the way you keep them.” Our present culture teaches women to assert themselves, demand equal treatment, even to the extent of vitriol in the feminist movement. All the ground they gain must be maintained the same way—assertion, demands, vitriol. At the same pace, our society is increasingly godless.
The story of Ruth reminds all of us when men are respectful of women and women are gracious in deportment, they have found their God-given roles. Once within the parameters of God’s wise directives for men and women, they flourish! Boaz is the supreme Old Testament example of a gentleman, and it is fitting that his sacrificial act of redeeming the lost lineage of Elimelech is the background for Christ’s redemption of the church. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).
The key which unlocks chivalry in the book of Ruth would transform modern-day society. You see this key in Boaz and in Ruth. This same principle will improve marriages and families today. The key to God’s intended design is this: Have a genuine, consuming, and selfless concern for the welfare of another.