Occasionally, someone says to me, “We live with each other because we really love each other and we’re married in God’s eyes, so what difference does the piece of paper make.” When I hear that (more often than I’d like) I always remember Glen Campbell’s song, “Gentle on my Mind.” He sings, “And it’s knowing I’m not shackled by forgotten words and bonds and the ink stains that have dried upon some line…” I might argue that those words did their part in adding to the promiscuity and emotional misery of those of us who grew up in the sixties.

Boaz tells the elders and all those in the public gathering that “they are witnesses this day” to the event in which he took Ruth as his wife.

What difference does it make? It makes all the difference!  Ogilvie says it best: “It is no accident that some form of public marriage ceremony exists in almost every culture of the world. It is important socially that others know publicly that two people are committing themselves to one another in marriage. But it is also very important for each individual within the partnership. If the love commitment which a man and woman have for each other is not prepared to go public, so that everyone knows they are man and wife, then I would question whether it is real love or a real commitment at all. Until it is affirmed in the presence of a witness, either partner has a right to question how deep the other’s love truly is, however passionately it may be expressed.”