Ruth, in the Old Testament, was faced with such a choice.
with permission: www.freedigitalphotos.net
We can only speculate that her own family and her own Moabite culture didn't offer her as much as the prospect of returning to Israel with her mother-in-law. Or one might suggest that she was moved by her mother-in-law's grief and couldn't bear to leave her alone. Perhaps she had the feeling that she'd already lost everything precious, and needed a fresh start. Had she heard about the idea of the cultural kinsman-redeemer? Or did she hope the family's remaining land might offer her some means of providing for herself and her MIL?
I'd like to believe she worshipped Yaweh. I want to believe that only a deep trust in the God of Israel was enough to make her follow Naomi. She proclaims to Naomi, "your God will be my God."
If she believed a cultural people could save her, she could have just stayed home. But I believe it was the God of her MIL's people who gave her hope of redemption, and that it was to HIM that she entrusted her future.
Fruendshaft is a German word from my Mennonite ancestors that basically means the brotherhood community of believers. It's an unspoken cultural way of taking care of those in the faith community. Broadly, others might think of this concept when recalling a traditional barn-raising, or quilting--where believers gather to meet the needs of a few. The Hebrew culture had a similar provision in their kinsman-redeemer practices, but Boaz comments to Ruth that he knows she is of noble character. Though she does boldly approach Boaz and asks him to become her kinsman-redeemer, her noble character report implies she wasn't being manipulative about it.
Boaz's mother, Rahab, also adopted Yaweh as her God. I'd like to believe that Boaz was particularly sensitive to first generation faith that rivaled simple observation of cultural rules.
In fact, the more closely related kinsman-redeemer than Boaz, at first agreed to the cultural rule of redeeming the land--until he realized it included two women that might have meant his own family members would have gotten a smaller piece of their family inheritance.
So, why did Boaz have to remind the Brotherhood, the Fruendshaft, to treat Ruth right?
If they knew the rules, why would they need reminding to keep them?
Were they perhaps more interested in protecting their possession than living in the Spirit of Yaweh?
I love the story of Ruth because she entrusted her future to Yaweh, and not just a cultural people.
It is only in embracing the good news of a Redeeming God that can save--not cultural touch points like community rules, moral codes, or doctrines.
Who do you entrust your future to?