Religious Freedom Equals Serving Others
The story of Ruth in the Bible is one where we can see God’s plan and how it works with a business that loves God in the secular world. Many of you know that Ruth was the daughter-in-law of Naomi, married Boaz and the great grandmother to King David. But that is just part of the story of their religious freedom in a land of idol worshipers.
Ruth was sold by her father into the Moab religion to become a priestess. The religion of the time sacrificed young girls to their god by stabbing them and then throwing their bodies into a idol’s stomach region that was a fire pit. Ruth was picked to be sacrificed, but God spared her by have a blemish appear on her arm that went away after another girl was picked. Ruth gains more responsibility in the Moab religion, so much that she is entrusted with the young girls to be sacrificed. This is the moment in Ruth’s life when she meets Naomi and her family.
Naomi and her family left Bethlehem to find work due to a famine. Naomi, her husband and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion come to Moab. They find work as stone masons and metal smith working for the religious priest and priestess of Moab repairing idols and making the fine jewelry the young girls wear as they are led to be sacrificed. During a visit to the business of Naomi’s family, Ruth meets Mahlon. Mahlon and Ruth begin talking about the religion of Moab and the one God of the Hebrews. God touches Ruth’s heart and soon her and Mahlon are in love. She leaves the priestess way and marries Mahlon. Soon Naomi and her two daughters-in-law are all that is left of the family. They decide to return to Bethlehem and that part of the story is what many of us remember learning in Sunday school or in sermons. Naomi sends Ruth to seek out Boaz, after she is set to marry another man. Everything works out according to God’s plan and Ruth and Boaz are married and their great-grandson becomes King David. All of this is a great story about mixed marriages, God changing one’s heart and family bonds. But it is more than that for I wish to focus on the days Naomi and her family lived and had a business in Moab.
Moab had its own religion. Naomi and her family were Hebrews worshiping the one God. Ruth was a member of the priestess order of that Moab religion. So why should God lead these faithful Hebrews to Moab? Why? Because God had a plan; maybe even several. One was everything to do with Ruth and her becoming the grandmother of King David. But let’s also note that God did not want his people to starve. Maybe they even by their actions and deeds help to change more than just Ruth and her fellow Moabite sister-in-law’s hearts. So here is where we look at how their business is part of God’s plan and how it relates to those faithful to God having businesses today in the modern world.
Ruth met Mahlon because she comes to the business to discuss the work they are doing for the priesthood. Why are these faithful to God working on idols and for idol worshipers? Shouldn’t they be talking about their religious freedom to serve whom they want? One will argue that was a different time and place. And that Naomi and her family were living in Moab, so they must do what they needed to survive. And yes, those individuals would be right. But we are going to speak to the fact that Naomi and her family decide to serve or exchange work for money with those of a different religion than themselves. And God was not angry with them, but used them as a force to help change hearts. Naomi’s son, Mahlon speaks out against the cruelty of human sacrifice to Ruth. This helps change her heart. And later they are married. After every direct member of Naomi’s family dies in Moab, she and Ruth return to Bethlehem.
So I would like to use this example of why those who are faithful that own business might want to rethink the refusal of service due to someone not being the same as them no matter what that reason is. I am speaking about businesses who refuse to serve those in the GSM community based on the reasoning that their faith will not allow them. Naomi and her family did business with those that were breaking one of the ten commandments. Not just choosing to cherry pick verses to make something seem okay in the eyes of God. So I say, bake the cake or don’t. But stop using a loving God and your faith as a reason for not doing so.
Here in the United States of America we have freedom of and from religion. Even myself as a Libertarian sees that businesses that are not life essential monopolies can refuse service. I as a Libertarian can even call them out on their bigotry. But I want to speak to those faithful who have a business and ask, shouldn’t they be more like Naomi and her family? Because you never know when you will meet another Ruth.