Artwork by Jess Fleming
Today’s Passage: Ruth 1:10-18
10 They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, 13 would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.” 14 Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
15 So she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said,
“Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
17 Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!”
18 When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
I grew up hearing many sermons about siblinghood in the Church. Although I participated in youth ministries, young adult ministries, and women’s bible study groups throughout my life, I never felt like I had experienced sisterhood until I joined an Asian-interest sorority.
Multicultural and historically Black sororities and fraternities are very different from Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council organizations, which are the predominantly white fraternities and sororities. However, these organizations have their own stigmas and stereotypes attached to them. For Asian American Greek letter organizations specifically, most of the stigmas are related to drug culture, rave culture, and hazing. Although these things are not representative of all Asian sororities and fraternities, they are real issues in the Asian Greek community. Other Christians may have a hard time understanding how I can exist in these spaces as a Christian woman because Greek letter organizations can appear to be a profane space.
However, in the Asian Greek community, there are many things that we hold sacred. Within our organizations, we are given new identities — including nicknames and numbers. We earn a new identity as brothers and sisters of our respective organizations. We promise ourselves and our sisters or brothers that we will uphold our organizations’ values and traditions: actively serving our communities, advocating for diversity and awareness of social issues as Asians and Asian Americans, and representing our letters in everything else that we do, including in our extracurricular organizations, jobs, and studies. We understand that we are ambassadors for our organizations.
As a member of an Asian Greek letter organization, the reason why I value all of the things listed above is because I value my sisters and my sisterhood. I know that many other members of these organizations feel the same way. When new sisters or brothers cross over into these organizations, we welcome them into eternal brotherhood or sisterhood. In a lot of our chants and calls, we say that we’re a brother or sister until the day we die. There is a clear dedication to and everlasting love for our brothers and sisters.
This is the kind of siblinghood that God wants us to have with one another. One of the prime examples of sisterhood in the Bible is the bond between Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth. Naomi’s husband and sons died, making her and her daughters-in-law Orpah and Ruth widowed. Naomi tells Orpah and Ruth to remain in Moab, but Ruth decides to stay with her saying, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” Naomi tells her daughters-in-law to go their own way so they can take care of themselves, but at this point, Ruth tells Naomi that she is willing to endure this hardship together. She declares that she will stay by Naomi’s side and nothing, not even death, can separate them from each other.
The Church has taught me that this is the sisterhood I should be pursuing, yet I feel that growing up as a young Asian American girl in a white Evangelical church, the Church failed to extend these kinds of relationships to me. It wasn’t until I joined an Asian-interest sorority that I truly felt supported as an Asian American woman. And it wasn’t until then that I was able to find women who I could call my sisters. In order to experience something as sacred as sisterhood, I found myself having to step out of sacred spaces and journey into a place that some Christians may consider profane. I’m not going to pretend that being a Christian in a Greek letter organization is always easy. But joining this community has allowed me to experience the siblinghood that God wants for us and that all of us deserve.
Reflection: Has it been difficult to experience or find God in spaces that are considered sacred? In which “profane” spaces has God been able to speak to you?