Acrylic, 18” x 14.” Collection of First Metropolitan Community Church of Atlanta, GA.
Love between women is honored in the lives of Ruth and Naomi. Their feast day is observed today (Dec. 20).
Ruth’s famous vows to Naomi are often used in weddings -- heterosexual as well as same-sex unions. Few people realize that these beautiful words were originally spoken by one woman to another:
“Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee. For whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
Ruth is an ancestor of Jesus Christ, listed in his genealogy in the gospel of Matthew. It reports mostly a male lineage, and Ruth is one of only four women who are included.
Naomi was the mother-in-law of Ruth and Orpah. After their husbands die, Naomi urges both of them to remarry. The painting by Trudie Barreras shows Orpah leaving while Ruth stays with Naomi.
The painting “Whither Thou Goest” was commissioned in 2004 by Rev. Paul Graetz, pastor of First Metropolitan Community Church of Atlanta, for a sermon series that he was doing on the Book of Ruth.
The billboard featuring Ruth and Naomi is part of the Would Jesus Discriminate project sponsored by Metropolitan Community Churches. It states boldly, “Ruth loved Naomi as Adam loved Eve. Genesis 2:24. Ruth 1:14.” For more info on the billboards, see our previous post, “Billboards show gay-friendly Jesus.”
The following links to other resources on Ruth and Naomi were suggested by friends of this blog. Thanks, CWS and Yewtree!
“Song of Ruth” hymn by Fanny Crosby, 1875
Naomi and Ruth in art
Here’s a post from Queering the Church Blog about Ruth and Naomi, exploring the issue of whether they were really lesbians, and whether that matters now:
If anyone has other suggestions, leave a comment. We can build a whole collection of Ruth and Naomi resources here.
This post is part of the GLBT Saints series at the Jesus in Love Blog. Saints and holy people of special interest to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people and our allies are covered on appropriate dates throughout the year.