Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jealousy and Love

Opposing Forces or Vital Companions?

The stigma attached to jealousy runs deep in our minds, especially when connected with love. Just by doing a simple google Google search on the word thousands of results will come up on how dangerous jealousy is and how it’s important to get over it if you ever want to maintain a serious relationship. I myself have been accused of jealousy as if it were a sickness and told I would eventually get over it. This ubiquitous perception of jealousy has gone too far. I will get over my jealousy just as soon as I give up breathing. Jealousy is, in fact, not only right but also essential to the strength of a committed relationship.

Myth1: 1 Corinthians 13 says, "Love is not jealous."
Truth1: 1 Corinthians 13:4 states "Love envieth not." Jealousy is not to be confused with envy. The symptoms are similar but the underlying motives are contrasting. Envy is selfishness often masquerading as jealousy when one or both partners are insecure. Insecurity and selfishness in relationships can have a myriad of root problems. Envy seeks to posses someone or something which it does not rightfully own. It seeks its own personal happiness as the expense of others. Jealousy is fiercely protective of its possessions and should thrive in even the most secure relationships. This is confirmed and expounded on in Song of Solomon 8:6-7

6. Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is as strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. 7. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all his substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.

It is clear from the last part of verse 7 that love cannot be sustained with material goods or earthly lusts. A love that can be bought with things of the earth will turn to loathing and disgust. These verses make it quite evident that love fueled by jealousy grows ardent and extremely difficult to extinguish. It is imperative to understand that jealousy means to protect what is rightfully yours.

Myth2: You are being overprotective and unreasonable. You will just have to get used to your partner spending time with the opposite gender. Anyway, it isn't like they are having sexual intercourse.
Truth2: 1 Corinthians 7:2 states that, "...to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband." Marriage is more than just sexual. It was designed as an abatement to loneliness (Genesis 2:18, 24) and as such involves spirit, heart and mind as well as physical intimacy. Sharing your spirit, heart and mind is often the first step leading to sexual involvement. God means for us to satiate our loneliness with one person, our spouse.
If that isn't enough for you, dozens of passages (Ex 20:5, 34:14 Deut 4:24, 5:9, 6:15, 32:16, 32:21 Joshua 24:9 1Kings 14:22 Psalms 78:58, 79:5 and more) speak of God's righteous jealousy. He demands faithfulness and exclusivity from his people and does not get used to us spending additional time with false gods. In fact, God often demanded a complete slaughter of outside nations who worshipped false gods. He did this in part to protect Israel, but the Israelites thought they knew better and continually allowed the idolatrous nations to live among them. In turn, the Israelites continually removed themselves from following the Lord to worship false gods. Just as the idolaters were a serious threat to the health and strength of Israel's relationship with the Lord, those of the opposite gender are a threat to the health and strength of your relationship with your partner. Learn from Israel's mistakes.

Myth3: You don't trust your partner.
Truth3: It isn't about whether or not I trust my partner, it is about human nature. God's word repeatedly compares us to sheep that are easily led astray (Isaiah 53:6, Psalm 119:176, 1 Peter 2:25). King David had the Spirit of the Lord upon him (1 Samuel 16:13). He was said to have a heart perfect with the Lord ( 1 Kings 11:14, 15:3, Acts 13:22). Yet, as close to God as David was, he failed sexually with another man's wife. As long as we live on this earth, the battle between flesh and spirit will continue. If you deny this battle your relationship is likely to become its victim. Instead, be aware of human nature and takes steps to protect your relationship. Doing so is in no way distrusting your partner, but a wise decision to protect what is yours. Let me put it this way, if you are a king you have a castle, a kingdom and enemies. As king you would not simply trust your enemies to sit idly by. You would train an army, or perhaps build a moat. You would hope there would be no need for their use, but you were would be prepared. If you let your kingdom sit their unprotected it would eventually be destroyed.

In conclusion, I will not compose or suggest any rules for your relationship. These must be decided on your own. I simply hope that you have become of aware of the difference between jealousy and envy. Marriage is the most sacred of earthly relationships and meant to be a picture of our marriage to Christ. As such, it should be highly valued and protected.

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