The cruelty and confusion of jealousy

The cruelty and confusion of jealousy
Robert Wurtz II

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as cruel as the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire,
A most vehement flame. (Song of Solomon 8:6 NKJV)

I have given a lot of thought over the years to a great subject that has perplexed me since childhood. From the Tex Avery’s cartoons that made fun of the “mother-in-law” to the cold wars that existed in families since I can remember. In particular, I have been disturbed by watching generations of women that seemed to almost hate their mother-in-laws. I would try to objectively look at the situation and figure out why the hostility existed? Most of the time mother-in-laws are stereotyped as nosey trouble makers; but then I looked at cases where it was obvious that this was not the case. 

Hate without a cause

I watched as women would enter families hostile from the start and without cause. The situation was so serious that from childhood I trained my sons not to marry a woman that would come in and seek to divide our family through these type of unwarranted hostilities. I didn’t understand the mechanics of the phenomena, I just knew I wanted no part of it. As a youth pastor I would tell our students, “Your life will be either heaven or hell on earth, depending on who you marry.” 

No new thing under the sun

Many years have passed since those days. It seemed to me that the mother-in-law was being treated as if she were the man’s ‘Ex-wife’ or ‘Ex-girlfriend’, rather than his mother. Armed with this hunch I started to do some research and came across this article: Why wives are programmed to fight their mother-in-laws. I found it to be very insightful and a must read for all families that are struggling with these tensions. Consider some of these comments from the author:

 ‘It’s a tragedy,’ she says. ‘This impasse divides women who should have so much in common, and who could benefit from each other’s friendship. It causes both sides terrible unhappiness and distress.’ Like Dr Apter, I’m convinced that the rivalry is so ingrained that it doesn’t matter how lovely your mother-in-law is. I should know, because my mother-in-law Sharon, who’s 66, is actually a charming, kind and reserved woman. In fact, if anything, I have more in common with her than I do with my own mother. Like me, Sharon is a lawyer. Like me, she’s extremely nosy. I should have warmed to her from the outset. Yet I still managed to find fault with her and be so mean that I get embarrassed just thinking about it. She didn’t ring at inappropriate times or make snide comments about my housekeeping skills. I was just programmed to be on the defensive.”

I was quite troubled by the words, Like me, she’s extremely nosy. I should have warmed to her from the outset. Yet I still managed to find fault with her and be so mean that I get embarrassed just thinking about it.” One of the reasons she is so concerned now is that she is bracing herself for having to deal with her own sons wives when they get married. It is a sad state of affairs and ought never to be among born-again believers in the churches of God. When the mother-in-law is relegated to the position of asking all of her life, “what did I do wrong” when she had done nothing wrong at all then something is terribly amiss. Has God spoken to this matter? Indeed He has. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:22 KJV)


If the author of the article is right then my perceptions have been right. The question is, what to do about it? Well, obviously, there is a need of repentance on the part of the one that is angry without a cause. The writer in the article would become angry when her husband and mother would meet for lunch. She then admits to the source of the problem, “I should have been touched by his loyalty and love. Instead, I just seethed with jealousy.” 


In Christ we are delivered from the Adamic influences of Sin, but we are still human. The remedy begins when there is an admission and acknowledgement of the problem itself. The author of the article suggests the problem is “programming” because her own mother-in-law was not the typical stereotype trouble maker, but a nice lady that she should have liked and been close to. As Christians we never have the right to just dislike a person or treat them with hostility, no matter how many excuses we can come up with. It would be a sad thing to end up in hell because of a refusal to repent of the anger without cause and treat someone so close as this with at the very least common respect. She is not his ‘Ex’, she is his mother. It is just sad to me that now the writer realizes how bad she acted towards her mother-in-law and is bracing herself for what her sons wives will do. My only advice for young married women would be not to sow such things and then you won’t be as apt to have to reap them. Treat them how you will someday want your daughter-in-laws to treat you. Sow love to your mother-in-law and it will return to you. Selah.  

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: