The Bible clearly teaches that one type of jealousy is a sinful desire of the flesh which is set against the Spirit. It is in the list of works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21. James 3:16 says that jealousy brings disorder and every vile practice. So should a wife be jealous? No, she should avoid this type of jealousy.
But the Bible teaches another jealousy. A wife should be jealous for her husband in the same way as God is jealous for his people. In the Old Testament he describes himself as a jealous God when he demands exclusive worship in the Second Commandment. His claim on the children of Israel is based on his choice and his deliverance (Exodus 20:2).
The bride of Christ (the church) has been chosen and delivered through Christ’s death on the cross because of his love for her (Ephesians 5:25-32). This profound mystery shares some qualities which are seen in earthly marriages. It is exclusive and is to be jealously guarded and defended due to the holy picture it presents to the world.
How does a wife show this sanctified jealousy?
- She desires her husband’s heart. Deeply personal conversations with a female are hers and hers alone. “My beloved is mine, and I am his” says the wife in Song of Solomon 2:16. She strives to develop a deeper relationship with her husband. She seeks advice from an older woman on how to love her husband (Titus 2:4). The wife who is jealous for her husband’s attention patiently lets her husband know when she is feeling neglected.
- She is zealous for her husband’s development as a spiritual leader. She praises small steps without negatively comparing him to others. She gives constructive criticism as needed, but with gentleness (Galatians 6:1). This woman desires to learn and sees him as a resource for answering her spiritual questions (1 Corinthians 14:35).
- She is vigilant to maintain her role as a helper for her husband (Genesis 2:18). Her speech is full of knowledge and wisdom. She is a wise counselor for her husband (Proverbs 31:26). She knows she is a fellow heir of the promises and is willing to share her spiritual knowledge.
- She diligently guards her marriage. She works alongside her husband to set up practical safeguards that help protect their sacred bond. Song of Solomon 2:15 exhorts the beloved to “catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards.” For some examples, this might mean a mutual agreement to copy one another on e-mails or an agreement not to participate in a business trip or even a meal alone with someone of the opposite sex.
- She has a right to demand that her husband’s body and sexual thoughts belong to her. She brooks no rivals. She jealousy guards against the “forbidden woman” described in Proverbs 5. She protects her husband from exclusive relationships with women who might be cause for temptation. This might mean getting help if her husband struggles with pornography.
- She is jealous for her husband’s reputation. She has a holy zeal for his honor and will honor him before others (Proverbs 12:4). She is careful with how she speaks about him to others. Those who know her realize how much she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:33). As a result, her husband trusts her (Proverbs 31:11).
- She guards the marriage bed, which is holy (Hebrews 13:4) and strives to bring joy to her husband (Proverbs 5:18-19). This woman remembers that God pronounced marriage “very good” and that he smiles on lovers (Song of Solomon 5:1c).
- She is watchful over her tongue and wisely encourages him (Proverbs 14:1, Ephesians 4:29). Her speech is discerning, judicious, and gracious (Proverbs 16:21-24).
- She perseveres when she is sinned against. She follows the Lord’s instruction to speak to her spouse about the issue. She uses gentleness as she seeks to restore him. She follows the steps given in Matthew 18:16-17 to get further help if she needs it.
- She maintains hope for her marriage. She persists even if she is married to an unbeliever (1 Corinthians 7:13), because she remembers that God can work in her marriage (1 Corinthians 7:16; 1 Peter 3:1-6).
- She is protective of her own heart. She finds comfort knowing that she belongs to the Lord, who is jealous for her love (Exodus 34:14). She will cultivate her relationship with her God. She lives for her Maker, who is a husband to her (Isaiah 54:5).
“Set me as a seal upon your hearts, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.” (Song of Solomon 8:6)
Join the Conversation
How have you sought to be a wife who is jealous for her marriage? What advice could you offer to those who counsel wives or engaged women?