Friday, September 18, 2009

Age Gap in Marriage

Then he said, "May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. (Ruth 3:10 NAS)

Marriage Many people have reservation about marrying someone much older than the other. The Bible provides several examples of marriage by people with a difference in age gap, and one of them is between Ruth and Boaz. Ruth is one of the few people in the Bible with no recorded sin, and she goes down into history following the genealogical line of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5).

The Bible in Ruth 3:9-11 (NAS) records Boaz's evaluation of Ruth and expressed Boaz's willingness to take Ruth in marriage.

He [Boaz] said, "Who are you?" And she answered, "I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative." Then he said, "May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. "Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.

From the verses shown above, it is clear that there is a gap difference between the age of Boaz and Ruth. Boaz called Ruth "my daughter" and commended her for not "going after young men." The honor resulting from this marriage is the recorded history of a couple in our Savior's family line.

Matthew Henry (1706) in his Commentary on the Whole Bible states the following:

"Boaz knew it was not any sinful lust that brought her [Ruth] thither, and therefore bravely maintained both his own honour and hers. He did not put any ill construction upon what she did, did not reproach her as an impudent woman and unfit to make an honest man a wife. She having approved herself well in the fields, and all her conduct having been modest and decent, he would not, from this instance, entertain the least suspicion of her character nor seem to do so, perhaps blaming himself that he had not offered the service of a kinsman to these distressed widows, and saved her this trouble, and ready to say as Judah concerning his daughter-in-law, She is more righteous than I. But on the contrary, he commended her, spoke kindly to her, called her his daughter, and spoke honourably of her, as a woman of eminent virtue."

"She [Ruth] had shown in this instance more kindness to her mother-in-law, and to the family into which she had matched, than in any instance yet. It was very kind to leave her own country and come along with her mother to the land of Israel, to dwell with her, and help to maintain her. For this he had blessed her (Ruth 2:12); but now he says, Thou hast shown more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning (Ruth 3:10), in that she consulted not her own fancy, but her husband’s family, in marrying again. She received not the addresses of young men (much less did she seek them) whether poor or rich, but was willing to marry as the divine law directed, though it was to an old man, because it was for the honour and interest of the family into which she had matched, and for which she had an entire kindness. Young people must aim, in disposing of themselves, not so much to please their own eye as to please God and their parents. He promised her marriage (Ruth 3:11):

"Fear not that I will slight thee, or expose thee; no, I will do all that thou requirest, for it is the same that the law requires, from the next of kin, and I have no reason to decline it, for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman."

"Note, exemplary virtue ought to have its due praise (Philemon 4:8), and it will recommend both men and women to the esteem of "the wisest and best. Ruth was a poor woman, and poverty often obscures the lustre of virtue; yet Ruth’s virtues, even in a mean condition, were generally taken notice of and could not be hid; nay, her virtues took away the reproach of her poverty. If poor people be but good people, they shall have honour from God and man. Ruth had been remarkable for her humility, which paved the way to this honour. The less she proclaimed her own goodness the more did her neighbours take notice of it. In the choice of yoke-fellows, virtue should especially be regarded, known approved virtue."

As can be seen from the commentary, Ruth chose “to please God” rather than self, and in so doing, pleases God. Marriage in the real world is not about age differences, it is about honoring God. There is no failed marriage if we do all things to honor God!

Dear Lord, help us to realize that a lasting relationship is not dependent on age or anything else, but on Your will for us. Cause us Lord not to make decisions according to the practices of societal norms, nor according to our own emotions. Still our hearts Lord that we may know clearly and calmly the one whom You have chosen for us. Thank You Lord for Your guidance and blessing as we continue to put You first above all else in every area of our lives, and especially when making such important decisions.

Adapted from article 'Age Gap in Marriage' by Edmond Ng.

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