First let’s consider the term Exception Clause. In law, it is defined as a statement allowing that which is contrary to normal expectations.
With that in mind let’s consider the law concerning Moabites:
“No Ammonite or Moabite shall be admitted to the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of their descendants shall be admitted to the assembly of the Lord, because they did not meet you with food and water on your journey out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam son of Beor, from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. (Yet the Lord your God refused to heed Balaam; the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you.) You shall never promote their welfare or their prosperity as long as you live.” – (Deuteronomy 23:3-6)
Using the book of Ruth as a test case or case study, in the first chapter we realise that Ruth was a Moabite. Also, not only has she been accepted into the assembly of Israel, she marries Boaz, a prominent Jew.
On one hand the kinsman in the story who turned down the offer of marrying Ruth could easily be vindicated for upholding ‘the integrity’ of the law, however, Boaz and Naomi who were technically in violation of the law were the focus of the writer’s message.
As with the writer of Ruth, and in blatant disregard to Deut. 23:3-6. the prophet Isaiah declared:
“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.” – (Is. 56:6-8)
Just like all human endeavours, though inspired, the writers and editors of the Scriptures had their biases. Clearly the writer of Ruth was challenging the notion of a True Worshipper of Yahweh: one that is born a Jew, or one that lives out the spirit of the law?
In the same vein, a true Christian is not necessarily one that ‘upholds the integrity of scriptures’, but rather, one that goes beyond the letter of the scriptures. One that lives out the scriptures in the context of their time. One that reinterprets scriptures in the spirit of Christ, in line with human development and advancement, and the challenges of their era.
Dare I say, one that sees the Exception Clauses in every situation.