“A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.” (Prov.11:16)
One couple comes to mind when I read this verse. Not the innocent Adam and Eve, who were made (by God) for each other, or faithful Abraham and Sarah, whose example we are told to follow. No, it’s Boaz and Ruth. To my way of thinking, here is the perfect couple. Two individuals whose virtues bring together the best qualities of their genders, and whose union only enhances those qualities.
In Ruth, I see a young woman whose lifestyle was gracious in her own home and in a strange land, where she was forced to go out and earn a living. Her dealings with those around her—family, friend, or acquaintance—reflect those of God Himself, whose name is most often connected with the word “gracious” in the Bible. Young Ruth gives us a composite picture of grace by her steadfastness in hardship, her kindness to Naomi, her humility in service to Boaz, and her submission to the will of God.
Her gracious manner brought her recognition from an entire city (Ruth 3:11); but more importantly, it caught the attention of a “strong” man, one whose strength of character made him an able, prosperous, and much-loved employer. He was instantly drawn to this superb young woman and his dealings with her were ever honorable, fair, and kind. The ultimate marriage of this couple gained the whole-hearted blessing of the city (Ruth 4:11); and their union was an integral part in the lineage of the great King David (4:17).
It may be true that opposites attract, but that doesn’t always mean it will be a good union, especially when they are opposite in character. When one spouse is too much sturdier of purpose and discernment, it will cause frustration for both (e.g. Abigail and Nabal [1Sam.25]). There can be an inequality of physical attributes, intellectual abilities, and even depth of spiritual perception; but if there is not an equality of unwavering commitment to God and what is right, the road ahead will be filled with potholes. For the (perfect) Christian couple, the secret of their “togetherness” is still Psalm 34:3:
“O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.”