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Are You "Waiting On Your Boaz"? Make Sure You Know What That Means, Sis.

It's important to know all there is to Boaz and Ruth before saying it's the love story that you want.

Inspiration


Although I grew up in the church, I've never been someone who is big on church clichés. No matter how popular a phrase might've been, I was the kind of person who didn't simply hop on the bandwagon; I would research things first. That's why I know saying, "This too shall pass" is nowhere in the Bible (it's actually attached to Hebrew and Persian folklore). Or, when I hear a Christian tell a little girl to be like Queen Esther, I often think to myself, "So, you know she spent the night with a pagan king and couldn't reveal that she was Jewish before she married him, right?" (Esther 2:12-14) This means that he probably had sex with her, just like all of those other women that he was "interviewing", so she probably wasn't a virgin on her wedding night. And then there's Ruth. More specifically, Ruth and Boaz. Pretty much every time I hear or read a woman say, "I'm just waiting on my Boaz", I find myself either saying or thinking, "And that just might be why you're still waiting, sis."

Waiting for your Boaz. If there's one thing that I think far too many of us are way too guilty of, it's romanticizing the Bible. Was Boaz a good man? All evidence certainly points to that. But for those of you who wants a man to pursue you and work hard for you, eh, Boaz isn't really your guy.

You'd be better off declaring that you're "waiting for Jacob" since he actually put in hard years of labor (technically, 14 of them—Genesis 29:20-35) for Rachel. Hmph. Even then, some might say that was karma because Jacob tricked his father, Isaac and stole from his brother, Esau "thanks" to his mother, Rebekah's little scheme and then his mother's brother, Laban turned around and tricked him. See what I mean? On the surface, does it seem like a beautiful gesture to have a man toil for your hand in marriage for years on end? Maybe. But if Jacob and his mom hadn't been so sneaky and conniving, perhaps he wouldn't have ended up with a wife he didn't want first (Leah) or he wouldn't have had to work at all.

That's why, I think it's so important to know what you're saying and why you're saying it before you actually do. And when it comes to waiting for your Boaz, as you're about to see in a sec, every time you put that into the Universe (Proverbs 18:21), you are saying more than a mouthful.

Naomi Was the Mastermind

The Book of Ruth really is one of my favorite books of the Bible. It's so rich that there's not enough time to get into all of the details. If you want a blow-by-blow account of each chapter, The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules is a pretty stellar read. For now, let's just go over a very brief recap. Naomi was a woman who had two sons that died, leaving behind two widows—Ruth and Orpah (fun fact: Oprah was named after Orpah but her aunt misspelled her name). When Naomi decided to return back to her homeland, Ruth went with her (Ruth 1). With no money and no idea what to do next, Ruth went to glean in a field of one of Naomi's relatives. His name was Boaz.

Boaz was kind to Ruth, no doubt. But other than allowing her to gather as much food as she could handle, he didn't do much else. It was Naomi who started to devise a plan in hopes of getting Boaz and Ruth together. First, that Ruth not go into any other field but Boaz's (Ruth 2:22-23). Next that she do the following:

"One day Naomi said to Ruth, 'My daughter, it's time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he's been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don't let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do."—Ruth 3:1-4(NLT)

Nowhere in the Book of Ruth does it say that Boaz asked Ruth out or even that he was pining away for her. It was Naomi who said, "Oh, Boaz? Yeah, I know him. He's my late husband's people. Here's how you can really get his attention." Bookmark that as we move on.

Ruth Did Most of the Legwork

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After hearing Naomi's instructions, Ruth simply replied with, "I will do everything you say." (Ruth 3:5—NLT) She then got to work. Literally. Ruth applied some essential oils. She put on her best clothes. She went to see Boaz, uninvited, when, as the New Living Translation of Ruth 3:7 tells us, Boaz had drank and was "in good spirits". It was then that Ruth went into his sleeping space. Now peep what the author of the book that I referenced earlier writes about this part of their journey:

"Clearly, the storyteller has loaded the story with sexual overtones. Language full of double-meanings, the isolated setting, a man and woman alone in darkness, Ruth covering Boaz's "feet" [which some Jewish scholars say could be a euphemism for penis]—all combine to create an aura of ambiguity intended to leave the reader wondering how much of Boaz she uncovers and what Boaz will do with this interesting and unexpected opportunity when he wakes up."—pg. 147

Y'all, Ruth straight-up seduced this man. Only Ruth, Boaz and God Himself know how far things went, but I'll just say that it's not the kind of "date" that you'll hear a lot of pastors or mothers of the church recommend that folks go on. Still, it's in the Bible. And no, Boaz did not come onto Ruth. Ruth came onto Boaz. And there is absolutely no indication in the story that if Naomi had not thought the plan up and Ruth had not followed through that Boaz wouldn't have remained being anything more than "a really nice guy".

So, when you say that you are "waiting on your Boaz"—what are you saying exactly? That you're waiting for a nice man to come along, period? Or that you are waiting for a good man like Boaz to pursue you? If it's the former, I get it. If it's the latter and you intend to not put some real sweat equity into the dynamic, like I said…you could be waiting for a really long time.

A part of the reason why Ruth is my girl is because, like the subtitle of the book states, she didn't follow the rules. She didn't think that only a man should "pursue" a woman in order for a relationship to work (Adam didn't pursue Eve; King Xerses didn't pursue Esther. Both couples still had really powerful and biblical love stories—Genesis 2 and Esther 2). Ruth was bold. Ruth was forward. Ruth was a risk taker. And yes, it paid off. Big time.

Boaz Was a Gentleman but Definitely NOT the Initiator

If you continue to read through the Book of Ruth, you'll see that once Ruth stepped out and made her presence known (and then some) to Boaz, he protected her throughout the rest of the night and then figured out how to make her his wife. Again, all of this wasn't about love and romance, though. She was a Moabite (pagan). Plus, back then, women didn't spend the night with men who weren't their husbands. According to the culture, she could've been severely punished, even stoned to death. Yet, remember how Naomi said that she was gonna find Ruth her own home? Naomi knew all of this. There must've been a part of her that knew Boaz may not ever make the first move. So, she came up with a way to expedite everything. In other words, the story isn't so much "romantic" as it was calculated on Naomi's part and somewhat obligatory on Boaz's. Not to say that he didn't care for Ruth, but again, if you put culture into all of this, his sudden "swiftness" (which ironically is what Boaz means in the Hebrew language; Ruth means "friend") was to protect this woman and ultimately, quite possibly, save her life. He wasn't so much "in love" as he was being noble.

If you continue to read the story (there are four chapters), Boaz does some negotiating for Ruth's hand in marriage, they get married, have sex and conceive a son by the name of Obed who eventually becomes King David's grandfather and someone who is directly in the bloodline of Christ. It's a beautiful story. Yet again, it's not so much because of Boaz. Boaz was reactive. It was Naomi and Ruth who were proactive.

Here's another thing to consider. Remember, the Bible was translated into English. It's originally an eastern culture book with a ton of Hebrew characters in it. According to the Midrash (which is basically a collection of Jewish commentaries), the Shir ha-Shirim Zutta, Boaz and Ruth conceived Obed on their wedding night. Guess what happened the following day, though. Boaz died (he was considerably older than Ruth so, it's quite possible).

Yep. So, think long and hard—are you waiting for a good man who you'll have to seduce, who marries you, partly out of obligation, only for him to die the next day and leave you to raise the son the two of you made alone? Are you really?

Let God Write Your Own Love Story

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Y'all, I'm not here to rain on your parade, I'm really not. I'm just here to enforce one of my favorite Message Version verses in the Bible—"It's best to stay in touch with both sides of an issue. A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it." (Ecclesiastes 7:18—Message) While it can be tempting to treat the coupledom stories of the Bible like they are fairy tales, at the end of the day, they are simply real people, having real experiences, where we are fortunate enough to see how God works in the midst of their good and not-so-good decisions. Their love stories are not told so that we'll mimic them so much as we'll remember that God has His hand in our life, just as much as He did in theirs. Oh, and so we can see what might be a good idea and…what might not.

Maybe at another time, I'll share why the fact that Ruth pursued Boaz doesn't bother me in the least. Yeah, another verse that could stand to be broken all the way down is "he who finds a wife" (Proverbs 18:22); especially since "find" means things like "to come upon by chance", to "realize" and to "consider". Also, since the very first love story did not consist of a man pursuing at all. Adam was asleep. God did it all (words to live by—Genesis 2). I'm simply saying that no, I'm not out here "waiting on my Boaz". I want my husband and I want it to be my individual journey. That was Ruth's. I want my own.

Some women have the "I'm waiting on my Boaz" so deeply ingrained into them that they will say it until the cows—or their husband—comes home (whichever comes first). But as for you, I hope this gave you a little something to think about. Words are powerful. Try and not put things, even "spiritual" things, into the world, just because everyone else might be saying it. Seek out the truth and reality about matters for yourself. You might just realize that you don't want what you thought you did. You might not want to wait on a Boaz. You might want God to simply lead you to your own husband in a totally different way. And sis, at the end of the day, I actually think that's a good thing. A really good thing.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

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Originally published on March 8, 2020

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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