For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:2
As with most weddings you’ve attended, my wife and I exchanged vows when we got married. We can’t go back and watch it, because we accidentally taped a football game over our wedding (that one actually wasn’t my fault), but I know that we said our vows. I know that we promised to take each other as husband and wife, loving each other until death. We made a vow to live in an exclusive relationship and the expectation has been that we will both live in such a way that respects that vow.
In my drug addiction, though it didn’t involve another woman, I didn’t live in a manner consistent with my vows. In my addiction, I behaved as though I loved the drug above all else. I made decisions that jeopardized our family, our marriage, our financial stability, her trust, and our future. When we got married, she had an appropriate expectation that I would love her above all else, but I didn’t keep up my end of the deal.
I don’t think anyone would say that she was out of line in feeling betrayed by my behavior. Because we entered the marriage relationship, making solemn vows to each other, she had a right to be jealous of my attention and affections.
Though we often think of jealousy as a negative or evil emotion, there is an appropriate kind of jealousy. In today’s passage, Paul spoke of our relationship with God, whom the Bible describes as a jealous God (Exodus 20:5). In today’s passage and elsewhere, the church’s relationship with God is described with the metaphor of a marriage. God made us to live in a loving relationship with him and he desires that we love him above all. It’s only this context that we experience true joy and peace because that’s the purpose for which he created us.
My wife has appropriate expectations that I live in a manner consistent with my vows, loving her above other people and things. This jealousy is born out of her love for me. In recovery now, I want to live in a way that shows love to her and gives her no cause for jealousy. I too am jealous of her affections and I desire the same from her. Likewise, God is jealous of my attention, and desires that I follow him above all. This is born out of his love for me and his desire for what is truly best for me. This is a good kind of jealousy.