The #MeToo Stories of the Bible We Tend to Ignore

These stories also compel us to get honest about the deeply flawed men in the Bible who we view in heroic terms. #MeToo is all about the abuse of power. The story of David and Bathsheba gives biblical warrant to confront those who violate the powers God entrusts for them to employ for the good and flourishing of others.

The Bible also gives us examples of remarkable men we can admire. One man in the Old Testament resisted the temptation that often leads to #MeToo stories and broke decisively with the fallen patriarchal culture’s elevation of men over women.

Meetings between Ruth and Boaz—in his barley field and at the threshing floor—present situations that could have turned out badly for Ruth. The power differential between the two of them was chilling. She is young, female, impoverished, widowed, and an undocumented immigrant who became a common field laborer. She is the epitome of utter vulnerability. He, on the other hand, is male, Jewish in his native land, the descendant of one of Israel’s leading families, and a powerful landowner. He had the power to abuse Ruth and get away with it.

Ruth’s decision to glean is a matter of survival. It exposes her to greater risk because it requires venturing out alone in a foreign culture. The risk intensifies at the threshing floor when she approaches Boaz in the dead of night.

But this is where Ruth’s story turns out differently, for she will encounter a man who lives before the face of God. That changes everything.

What happened is instructive for the church.

Instead of exploiting his advantages, in every situation Boaz uses his male power and privilege sacrificially to empower Ruth and ensure her initiatives on Naomi’s behalf succeed. In the barley field, he intervenes and tells his male harvesters not to touch her. At the threshing floor, when she approaches him under cover of darkness and no one is looking, he shields her from false accusations and guarantees that her proposal to rescue Naomi’s family will happen.

In the end, a hungry widow is fed, a dying family is preserved for another generation, Ruth flourishes in the full embrace of the community of God’s people, and God advances his purposes for the world through their actions. Let us not forget that the family line they fight to preserve is the royal line of King David and ultimately of Jesus. And we are given a powerful example of gospel masculinity that reflects Jesus and his kingdom—a masculinity that brings blessing instead of trauma and flourishing instead of deep wounds.

It’s the #MeToo story that didn’t happen. And when Christian men, like Boaz, embrace their true calling as God’s sons, the #MeToo and #ChurchToo stories will stop.

 

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Carolyn Custis James
Carolyn Custis James (BA Sociology, MA Biblical Studies) thinks deeply about what it means to be a female follower of Jesus in a postmodern world. As a cancer survivor, she is grateful to be alive and determined to address the issues that matter most. Carolyn is the author of Half the Church and Malestrom.

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