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:
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.