Monday, April 30, 2012
Is jealousy really wrong?
For the record, jealousy is not envy. They are not interchangeable, because they reflect two different emotioal states and social situations.
Envy is when you want something you don't have. Jealousy is the fear of losing something you already have.
For example, if you want your friend's boyfriend/girfriend then you are envious of your friend, but if you see your boyfriend/girlfriend getting along with someone else, and you fear being replaced for that person then you are jealous.
Between the two, only envy is considered a sin. The only way jealousy becomes a sin is when it turns to wrath where you would go to extreme measures to protect what you feel belongs to you.
Remember, if you want what is not yours, you are envious. If you are afriad of losing what is yours to another, you are jealous.
Not everyone experiences envy. Some people simply do not wish for what others have; they are either perfectly content with what they do have, or feel they will get something similar eventually.
They have the ability to be genuinally happy for people without feeling sad or less-than because they don't have the same thing.
Thus, while envy is a common sin, it is not experienced by all. The term "they do not have a jealous bone in their body" should actually be "they do not have an envious bone in their body."
Jealousy is far more common than envy. Even someone who does not envy can feel jealous. It's animal nature to fear being replaced, losing something that is important, or giving up something you feel belongs to you.
Highly jealous people may be clingy; they may not share often; and may act possessive or entitled to the things and people in their life.
A jelaous boyfriend won't like the idea of his girlfriend having other male friends, because even if he trusts his girlfriend, he views the other males as a threat. All throughout the animal kingdom we see displays of jealous behaviour. Whether it is a fight for resources, or mates, virtually every animal want to protects what they feel is theirs.
In some cultures, jealousy is actually promoted. It is seen as a healthy way to create competition and encourage others to improve themselves. After all, if you feel someone might take your position, you'll most likely work harder to keep it.
These cultures inject this fear of being replaced heavily so the people are constantly investing time, energy, and money into keeping hold of something forever.
Think of the idea of youth. Americans are so bombarded with the idea of being young and fresh that even a 25 year old would feel aged. They begin to feel jealous of those who are still in their teens not because they themselves want to be 16, but they don't want to lose some of privilages that Americans associate with being young. Jealousy comes in many forms.
It is also used to teach people not to take things for granted. Perhaps you have made someone jealous in order to remind them how important you are to them.
Where jealousy becomes a negative is when we are willing to do whatever it takes to keep what belongs to you.
Much like an envious person who goes to great lengths to steal something away, a jealous person can react in the same negative way in order to keep it.
We've heard of the jealous lover that kills her opponent, or even the jealous friend that spreads rumors to make the other person look bad. When jealousy causes us to behave negatively: lying, cheating, hurting; or when it begins to rule us making us anxious, depressed, suspcious all the time, then it is wrong.
Envy in any stage is wrong, but a little jealousy is not wrong.