I recently engaged in an online discussion with some believers who assert that it is a fairly common view among believers today to hold that Boaz and Ruth fornicated on the night before they were married. In all my readings of the Book of Ruth, I do not remember ever thinking that the language of the passage shows that they engaged in sexual immorality on that occasion.
Several considerations lead me to reject this apparently widespread contemporary view categorically.
A Virtuous Woman Would Not Go Along with an Immoral Scheme
Ruth was a virtuous woman whose excellent character was known to all the people and attested to by them (Ruth 3:11). She went to the threshing floor where Boaz was sleeping that night because Naomi her mother-in-law instructed her to do so (Ruth 3:1-5).
Ruth uncovered Boaz’s feet and lay down at his feet because Naomi told her to do so (Ruth 3:4). To hold that Ruth and Boaz fornicated that night because Ruth put herself in that situation would mean that she would have gone along with an immoral scheme that her mother-in-law had devised.
Because Ruth was a virtuous woman, she would not have knowingly gone along with such an immoral scheme. The importance of this observation is heightened by a second key consideration about this encounter between Ruth and Boaz.
Their Supposedly Fornicating Does Not At All Fit the Flow of Thought
Their supposedly fornicating on the night before they were married does not fit the flow of thought at all. There was a kinsman who was closer to Ruth than Boaz was (Ruth 3:12). Neither Boaz nor Ruth knew, therefore, at that time whether they would ever be married because they did not know what that person would choose to do about his right of redemption (Ruth 3:13; 4:4).
To hold that Ruth and Boaz slept together on the night before they were married means that they would have to have given in to their fleshly lusts in spite of their not having any surety whether there would be any future for them to be together. Their having done so would thus have been a far different matter than the situation of engaged couples who succumb to their fleshly desires before their upcoming planned weddings.
Moreover, Naomi also would have been responsible for putting Ruth in that compromising situation because she was the one who directed Ruth to do what she did. She then would have shared responsibility for the defiling of Ruth without having any certainty that Boaz would even be able to marry Ruth the next day.
Our Responsibility to Give Other Believers Every Reasonable Benefit of the Doubt
We must give Ruth and Boaz every reasonable benefit of the doubt. As discussed above, Scripture does not provide any compelling evidence that shows that they engaged in premarital intimacy.
In fact, the inspired record strongly precludes their having been immoral together on that night. It would be unrighteous, therefore, for believers to assert that Boaz and Ruth were immoral on that occasion.
Boaz and Ruth are alive today in the presence of God. We who are believers in Jesus Christ will spend all eternity with them.
Because we do not have irrefutable evidence to show that they fornicated on the night before they were married, we should not dishonor them by suggesting that they fornicated when they met that night. If we do so, and they testify to us someday in heaven to the purity of their dealings on that occasion, we will owe them an apology in that day.
Moreover, the biblical account of the threshold encounter of Boaz and Ruth does not provide any support for holding that premarital sex is somehow legitimate or not such a big deal because supposedly Ruth and Boaz slept together on the night before they were married. Using this account to try to excuse such immoral behavior is to misuse Scripture.