After recently learning I was on the autism spectrum, I wondered if my “never married” status was common among my peers who live on the spectrum too. One expert claimed that since many of those who have autism are introverts, and since interpersonal relationships and reading social clues are challenges for us, it’s possible that we on the spectrum on average are somewhat less likely to get married than neurotypicals. However, those who does marry are not one of a kind.
A little over 20 years ago, I joined a dating service. That sounds like an odd thing for someone on the spectrum to do. But according to what I’ve read about Asperger’s, it isn’t that we don’t yearn for a mate, but we don’t know how to go about finding and keeping one.
I’ll start off with saying something positive in that all of the ones I met behaved like gentlemen. I only laid eyes on most of them once though. All I remember gaining was a collection of dating stories that have a common theme: dating can be worse than a root canal. What I lost didn’t come from the heart but my checkbook in a total of $2,000.00. I didn’t get a ring on my finger and I sure didn’t get my money’s worth. Now one can learn from bad experiences. I just haven’t figured out what I learned from those 20 or so dates except I know there’s a park with a swamp in Alexandria, Virginia.
You might not think the Bible contained romantic stories but it does. One of them is in the book of Ruth. The damsel in distress is Ruth; the knight in shining armor is Boaz; and the matchmaker is God.
At the beginning of the book of Ruth, we find that she is a widow of a Moab by the name of Mahlon. Her mother-in-law Naomi, who was also a widow, had decided to return to her hometown of Bethlehem. Ruth told Naomi she was going with her and there was no talking her out of it.
Naomi is back in her hometown, but Ruth finds herself in unfamiliar territory. I empathize because I left my hometown when I moved to Washington, D.C. where I lived for over 20 years. My whole world was rocked and I recall aching for familiarity. I missed being the native instead of the new kid on the block.
Ruth takes her new surroundings in stride. With Naomi’s guidance, she goes to the harvest field to glean. A fine, upstanding man in the community, Boaz, sees Ruth. Judging from what the scripture says, it may have been love at first sight for Boaz. He immediately took Ruth under his wing and advised her to stay with his servant girls since she was vulnerable to danger being by herself.
When Ruth confides to Naomi about Boaz, Naomi gives her a list of instructions on how to request marriage to Boaz. Ruth washed and perfumed, put on her best clothes, went to the threshing floor and waited for Boaz to lie down. Then, when he did, she uncovered his feet and lied down at his feet. This sounds strange, I know, but that was the custom back then. Boaz was startled in the middle of the night and saw Ruth at his feet. He understood the marriage request and was quite okay with it. Thrilled was probably more like it.
After completing all that needed to be done, they became husband and wife. Ruth soon gave birth to a son named Obed. Naomi was the proud grandmother and took care of Ruth and Boaz’s child. Obed would later have a son named Jesse, who would be the father of a shepherd boy who became King.
It is easy for me to see God’s hand in this since I don’t believe in coincidences. He directed all the characters with their unique parts – Ruth’s, Boaz’s, and Naomi’s. Ruth followed the conviction on her heart to stay with her mother-in-law. If she hadn’t, there might never have been a King David or a city known as the City of David, and the genealogy of Jesus Christ would look a lot different.