When Jealousy is Appropriate

Christians are not allowed to be jealous of what others have, whether it be material things, situation in life, bodily health, or a successful life. This kind of jealously ultimately arises out of discontent for one’s own material things, situation in life, etc. The ninth and tenth commandments forbid covetous desires of any kind and instead require us baptized children urge others to be content with their own situation as well.

God alone reserves the right to be called “Jealous”. “I the Lord your God am a jealous God.” In His relationship to His people, He is husband and they are bride. He is Father and they are son. God’s “jealousy” does not arise out of a sinful discontent of the heart (obviously) but has to do with His intense love for His bride. For the Church to turn to other gods is tantamount to spiritual adultery, and makes God jealous, because as His bride the Church is to be devoted to Him alone.

I would submit though that in so far as the relationship of husband and wife reflects that between Christ and His Church, there is a sort of righteous jealousy that husband or wife experience when one or the other is unfaithful. If a wife turns from her husband and jumps into bed with another, does not the heart of a husband rightfully burn with jealousy for his wife’s love and devotion? This kind of jealousy is born out of the intense love that is experienced between husband and wife. Likewise, does not the heart of a woman rightfully burn with jealousy when the eyes of her husband are directed toward another?

This jealousy that a man or a woman may experience when his or her spouse is unfaithful is like unto the jealousy that God has for His people when the attention of their hearts is diverted away from Him to others. I would say that not only is such jealousy completely natural, it is not sinful. There may be other sinful emotions that accompany this kind of breach in fidelity. But I am inclined to think that it is not wrong for a wife or a husband to be jealous for the other’s love.


About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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5 Responses to When Jealousy is Appropriate

  1. Preachrboy says:

    What about when a pastor is “jealous” of his sheep being misled by another shepherd?

  2. Pastor Beisel says:

    I didn’t consider that, but yes, I suppose there is a sort of “holy jealousy” when this happens. Good point.

  3. Pastor Beisel says:

    I just came across this verse (1 Cor. 11:2) “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.” Yes, indeed, pastors may experience a “godly jealousy” for the members of the body of Christ.

  4. Lawrence says:

    You know…

    I find myself a bit jelous at times of pastors who have had the opportunity to complete seminary.

    Something I always wanted to do, but not because I ever felt called to the ministry.

  5. Mort says:

    Is the jealousy that one feels about an unfaithful spouse (or that a pastor feels about stolen sheep) different from what people generally feel when something they believe is rightfully theirs is taken from them (stolen) by another person?

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