Jealousy, in itself, is not a sin. According to the Bible God is “jealous” when we put other priorities and gods before Him. You can find a number of scriptures that state that fact. But is all jealousy wrong? Simply stated, no.
We’re told in 2 Corinthians 11 that Paul was jealous “with a godly jealousy.” So obviously there are times when being jealous has its merits. But it can also head towards a sinful path. That’s what we want to avoid.
There’s no doubt that jealousy IS a sin when a person becomes ‘envious, boastful, rude and self-seeking.‘ (This is referred to in 1 Corinthians 13.)
It’s also stated in the Bible: “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?” (1 Corinthians 3:3) That’s not a complimentary statement!
So, how do you know when your jealousy is “godly” or “worldly” and when it isn’t? And how can you make sure it doesn’t hurt your marriage?
First off, note that:
“Jealousy comes in different levels. Legitimate jealousy is a means to guard your territory. This comes from a sincere care and commitment to a relationship. Occasional jealousy includes occasional suspicions. That includes being uncomfortable when your spouse is with certain friends of the opposite sex. Chronic jealousy includes lies, threats, self-pity, and feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, and insecurity.”
These “different levels” may help you to know if your jealousy is sinful or not.
Let’s take this further.
Jealousy can threaten and even destroy your marriage.
Dr Charles Swindoll refers to jealousy in his book, Marriage… From Surviving to Thriving:
“Few things turn off a mate faster than a suspicious, insecure, smothering and protectiveness. A jealous lover’s first concern is for self, which is the exact opposite of agape love (which is the type of love that God requires of marriage partners). Rather than being patient, the jealous lover zealously pursues what he or she wants, even to the extreme of controlling someone else.”
This goes along with the saying, “It is not love that is blind, but jealousy” (Laurence Durrell). Blind jealousy is destructive in a marital relationship. You need to control or eliminate it from your marriage, because of its toxicity.
As Ron Deal (the director of FamilyLife Blended for the ministry of Family Life Today) points out:
Our research revealed that feelings of jealousy (fear of being replaced), suspicion (trouble believing their partner), worry (how their mate’s previous sexual experiences compare to theirs), and fear (afraid of another relationship breakup) predict with nearly 93 percent accuracy couples with high versus low-quality relationships. Fears erode confidence. It sets the couple up to interpret benign behaviors in cancerous ways.
Jealousy can also related to the stepfamily dynamic. In biological families, for example, when a parent spends time with their children it also cares for the marriage. That is not necessarily so in remarriages. Nearly half (46%) of unhappy partners feel left out when their spouse spends time with their children. This is just another example of how first marriages and remarriages differ. A key point of our research is that an astonishing 7 of the top 12 stumbling blocks for remarriage couples are related to past relationship breakups, or because of the complications of being in a stepfamily.
Jealousy Can Act as a Poison
So, just how do you handle your irrational jealous feelings so they don’t poison your marriage? First, there are a few questions to sort through. “Do we need to swallow our feelings and ‘buck up’?” If so, or if not, how do we deal with jealous feelings? Frankly, these are age old questions. And they aren’t always easy to answer. But the following might help.
Here are some great guidelines that Dr David Hawkins and Dr Gary and Barb Rosberg give. Perhaps they can help you answer those questions:
— ALSO —
Monica A. Frank, PhD has written a very helpful article on this subject where she points out:
“The more you are aware of your behaviors and other’s behavior that may maintain the beliefs, then you will be able to make better choices that can allow you to control the jealousy. It’s especially important to develop awareness of this. You may need to spend some time at this point to assess your jealousy. Honestly assess the behaviors, and the outcomes based on the behaviors.
“HOW DO YOU STOP IRRATIONAL JEALOUSY? Once you have determined the behavior, then you can make choices to change the behavior. Even though these feelings seem uncontrollable, that doesn’t mean they are uncontrollable. However, you may need to make a commitment to the hard work involved in making changes.”
For more information, including linked articles pertaining to “steps that can help you make these changes,” please read:
Here’s another article to read. It approaches this issue from a different angle:
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
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Filed under: Assorted Marriage Issues