And Jesus said to His disciples, “A new command I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (Jn 13:34-35).
What the Bible “REALLY” says about LOVE, and what many people think the Bible says about love, are two different things.
The word “love” can denote a strong affection for practically anything. There’s love for God and country, love for families and friends. Some even claim to love their pet hamster. But when a man tells a woman he loves her, love suddenly takes on a whole new meaning, one that has alluded poets and philosophers alike.
Sex = love¾it’s nowhere in the Bible
The Bible has a lot to say about love. It also has a lot to say about sex. It even talks about two people who love each other having sex. Yet the Bible never uses the word love to refer specifically to sex. Neither does it use our modern idea of being in love as a prerequisite to sex.
The New Testament was written in Greek. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic. In the third century BC, the Old Testament was translated into Greek. This translation became known as the Septuagint. If the Bible writers wanted to differentiate between sexual love and other kinds of love, they could have done so by simply using the Greek word eros. Erotic is a derivative of eros. Yet eros appears nowhere in the Bible, Old Testament or New. Even Ephesians 5:25, which tells husbands to love their wives, does not employ eros¾it uses a derivative of agape instead.
The Bible is not against sexual expression. Husbands and wives should render each other their conjugal rights (1Co 7:3-5, RSV). The Song of Songs celebrates sexual expression. It’s the most sexually explicit book in the Bible. Yet even this book never refers to love as eros. Agape is used instead.
When a man tells a woman he loves her, it could have a myriad of meanings. Many women complain that guys are dogs because they’ll say, “I love you,” when all they’re interested in is sex. Men justify their behavior by saying they’re only telling women what they want to hear. Otherwise, they’d never get to first base.
But if a man is sincere, “I love you” might mean, “I think you’re the most beautiful woman on earth. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” It could also mean, “I think you’re ugly, but that’s okay because I’m ugly too. Therefore, since no attractive woman would ever want me, and since you’re the best I can do, I’m willing to settle for you.”
Hey, ugly people need love too!
Of course, beauty can include more than just the way a person looks. I’ve met some average looking women who were extremely beautiful because of other qualities. I’ve also met women physically gorgeous with qualities that made them ugly. I also realize that someone I might think is gorgeous, some other guy might think is plain. So to an extent, beauty really is in the eyes of the beholder. Yet there are also universal concepts of beauty. Otherwise, a four-hundred-pound zit-faced butterball would have a real shot at the Miss America title.
And then there are those people who claim physical attractiveness is not important.
How many men would dump the woman they’re with now, the woman they say they “love,” if they really had a choice of any woman on earth? If the truth be known, most men are with the woman they’re with not because she was the pick of the litter, but because, under the circumstances, she was the best he could do. Not every man is married to Cindy Crawford for the same reason that not every man drives a Rolls Royce or a Jaguar.
Although sex is an important ingredient of marital love, a marriage based solely on sex has a slim chance of survival. People are often sexually attracted at first sight. But it takes an investment of quality time spent together to get to really know someone.
Sex and love are not the same thing. Although few people would marry someone they are not sexually attracted to, most people, if they’re honest, have met numerous people throughout the course of their lifetime who turned them on sexually. An intense desire to have sex with someone does not and should not automatically translate into a desire to marry that person. But just because you don’t choose to marry someone, does that mean you don’t love that person? And if you choose to have sex with someone without getting married, does that mean the pleasure was not genuine?
Finally, it is possible to have deep affection and genuine love for someone without having a sexual desire for that person. A person may have this kind of love for a grandparent or a priest. The idea of having sex with a grandparent would be repulsive to most people for a variety of reasons, including perhaps the age difference, as well as the taboo most people have been raised with which prohibits incest.
In biblical times, the idea of a man loving a woman simply because she was the most sexually desirable woman on earth was generally a foreign idea, although it may have been an ideal, as we see expressed in The Song of Songs. In most marriage arrangements, the parents picked their children’s spouses for them. Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac. Isaac and Rebekah never even saw each other until their wedding (Ge 24).
Another consideration is that ancient Israel took the mandate to be fruitful and multiply seriously. Taking concubines for breeding purposes was common. One has to wonder how much of our modern concept of love was involved in these ancient Hebrew practices.
So the Bible does not speak of sex as love. Rather, sex is one of many expressions of love, although a very high expression to be sure.
Nevertheless, there are some overriding principles that apply to all expressions of love, regardless of whether or not that love is expressed sexually.
Christian love does NOT forsake all others
Society and religion say, “If a man and woman really love each other, they must forsake all others,” as expressed in most marital vows.
Just how biblical is this?
The Bible says God’s love is infinite (Eph 2:4-7; Jer 31:3; Isa 49:15,16). A Christian is someone filled with God’s infinite love (Ro 5:5; 1Co 13:13; Gal 5:22). Since Christians should accurately reflect the love of God, aren’t people who limit their love to one person a poor reflection of God’s love?
God expressed His infinite love by giving His Son to die for humanity. Jesus reflected His Father’s love perfectly. Jesus loved us so much, both individually and collectively, that He was willing to prove that love on the cross. When Jesus loved us, it was for better or worse. And His love was a perfect example for everyone.
Jesus henceforth commanded His followers to love each other as He loved them (Jn 13:34-35). Jesus said if we’ll simply do that, then everyone will know we’re genuine Christ-followers! One lesson we can learn from Jesus’ example is that loving someone involves doing what is in the best interests of that person, even if it hurts.
We’re to love our neighbors as ourselves (Ro 13:9). Husbands are to “love their wives as their own bodies” (Eph 5:28). Both texts say virtually the same thing. We’re to love our neighbors¾including our closest neighbor, our wife¾in the same manner that we love our bodies. Both verses use the same Greek word for love¾agapao.
Some might concede, “Okay, perhaps we shouldn’t restrict our love to just our spouses. However, the love we express to others is somehow a different kind of love.” But the proceeding scriptures do not allow for this conclusion. God commands us to have intimate feelings for others, not just for our spouses. This is not implying that we necessarily must express that love sexually or that it is always ethical or appropriate to do so. This is a matter that is contingent on a wide variety of factors, which are discussed elsewhere throughout this book.
Consider the love Jesus had for us. Crucifixion was the most agonizing and humiliating death imaginable. This was certainly a stark contrast to the red carpet treatment one would have expected for a conquering king.
What made it possible for Jesus to endure such torture? Was our Savior simply programmed like a robot? Or, was He motivated by passion?
Christian love is quite different from the romantic love portrayed in movies and novels. Sadly, many Christians have adopted our culture’s ideas of romantic “love” instead of cultivating the godly kind of love prescribed in the Bible.
Case in point¾if we only love those who love us, Jesus said we are just like the pagans (Mt 5:43-48). Christians are to love even their enemies (v. 44). This is not to say that we are to love our enemies in the same way that we love fellow Christians. Christians should have a special kind of love for other Christians. However, we cannot always tell who is and who is not a Christian. Who would have suspected that Judas Iscariot was not a Christian? Who would have guessed that Saul, who put Christians to death prior to his conversion, would become one of the greatest Christians of all time¾Paul the Apostle? If Christians don’t love non-Christians, they won’t be motivated to evangelize them with the gospel message.
When Jesus first loved us, we were enemies of God (Col 1:21, Ro 5:10). When people spat on Jesus, He loved them enough to ask His Heavenly Father to forgive them.
Jesus said our Father in Heaven will not forgive us unless we forgive others (Mt 6:15).
The prevailing notion is that if our heartthrob withholds love from us, or if we discover that the object of our affection is not quite as perfect as we once envisioned, then the relationship is over! Jesus’ love is the antithesis of this. God promised never to leave us or forsake us (Heb 13:5b). Yet we forsake others for whom Christ died routinely.
Four Greek words for love
The Bible uses four Greek words to refer to love:
1) agape, 2) agapao, 3) philanthropia, and 4) phileo.
1) Agape and 2) agapao
Agape is a noun, and agapao is the verb form of agape. Both refer to godly Christian love. Agape is used to say, “God is love” (1Jn 4:8). Agape and agapao are used to describe the attitude of God toward His Son (Jn 17:26). Agape can refer to God’s love for believers (Jn 14:21), as well as God’s love for the human race in general (Jn 3:16).
Philanthropia denotes man’s love for his fellow man and refers to brotherly kindness. Example: Julius shows kindness (philanthropia) to Paul (Ac 27:3).
Phileo conveys the idea of cherishing someone above all others. When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, phileo was used (Jn 21:15-17).
People say we should love our spouse more than anyone else. If that were true, the Bible writers could have easily communicated this by using phileo. Instead, when the Bible tells men to love their wives (Eph 5:28), it uses agapao. Nowhere does the Bible suggest we should have phileo love for a spouse. We are, however, to have phileo love for Jesus. Although it is natural for a man to love his wife more than other women¾ otherwise he would have or perhaps should have married someone else¾many claim that married men should suppress any feelings they have for any women other than their wives. So on the one hand, Jesus says we should love one another fervently. On the other hand, teachers claiming the authority of Jesus say we should suppress our love. Who should we believe? Certainly not everyone claiming to be a teacher of Christ is telling the truth. The Bible warns us of false teachers (Mt 7:15, 24:11,24 Mk 13:22, 2Co 11:13, 2Pe 2:1, 1Jn 4:1). Although I cannot judge the inner motives of sexual legalists, and although I do not believe everyone who disagrees with my position on sexual ethics is a false teacher, no man is infallible. And only the Bible is the final court of arbitration. As Luther said, “Let God be true and all men a liar.”
What makes Christian love unique?
Christians are directed by the indwelling power of God’s Holy Spirit (Ro 8:9). Therefore, a believer should be expressing a love that is radically superior to non-Christian love.
What makes Christian love unique? How does the Bible define genuine love?
Who loves your lover more¾you or Jesus?
Suppose you’re a married man with a perfect marriage. Who loves your wife most¾you or Jesus? Your automatic response is probably, “Jesus, of course. But Jesus doesn’t love my wife in a sexual way!”
Since Jesus is in Heaven, no woman on earth has ever had physical intercourse with Him. Nevertheless, your wife (if she’s a Christian) will spend eternity with Jesus. In the eternal state referred to as the New Heaven and Earth, after being resurrected and glorified, your wife will have a perfect physical female body.
Now you might argue, “Yes, but Jesus is God.” True¾and Jesus is also a man. Since the incarnation, Jesus was and is fully man and fully God. Jesus has and will have a perfect physical male body throughout eternity. Is there any logical reason why it would be unethical for your wife to have sex with Jesus?
The relationship between Jesus and the church is consistently portrayed as a marital relationship. In fact, Jesus’ love for the church is given as a model for how a husband should love his wife (Eph 5:25).
Is Jesus sexual or asexual?
“Yes,” one might argue, “but Jesus isn’t sexual.”
The idea of Jesus desiring sex or engaging in intercourse almost seems blasphemous. Since the Bible does not tell us anything about Jesus’ sex life, the assumption is that He’s never had sex. We assume it would have been impossible for Jesus, the only man to live a sinless life, to engage in sex because we define all sex outside of marriage as sinful. Since we worship a sexless Jesus, is it any wonder that Christians have been taught to suppress their sexuality? Christian women should not walk, talk, or act sexy. They should not wear their necklines too low or their hemlines too high. Yet my idea of the perfect woman combines the best qualities of Marilyn Monroe and Mother Theresa.
Sex is a powerful drive for most men. Considering the sexually negative attitude of the church, is it any wonder that many Christian men find non-Christian women more sexually desirable?
Does it seem logical that Jesus, a perfect man who was fully human, did not have a normal, healthy sex drive? After all, Jesus made us male and female (Jn 1:3). Jesus created sex and said it was good (Ge 1:31).
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word yada means to know. It is often used as a euphemism for intercourse. The Hebrew conveys the idea that a man fully knows his wife through sexual intimacy.
Of course, even through sex, a man never really knows his wife fully. God, on the other hand, does. He knows us better than anyone. He keeps a running tally of our hair follicles (Mt 10:30). He’s the ultimate mind reader! He’s got a psychic connection to all our thoughts (Ps 139:2).
Jesus is the only member of the Trinity who became human. The Father and the Holy Spirit are not a part of the created sexual realm. Yet through the person of Jesus Christ, God desires a deep, intimate relationship with His Bride, the Church. Isn’t the real blasphemy to say it would be a sin for Jesus to have sex with His own bride?
Marital intimacies are merely a sneak preview of the ultimate intimacies we’ll experience throughout eternity with Jesus and fellow Christians. Is there any logical reason why perfect humans with perfect bodies would not express that perfect love sexually?
The by-products of monogamous love
Let’s analyze the effects of monogamy¾are they good or bad?
If, while loving one person, we simultaneously develop feelings for another, society scolds, “Your new feelings are illicit¾suppress them.” If the passion gets to the point of no return, it’s usually awkward to confide in our significant other. Yet sooner or later, the telltale signs become manifest¾lipstick on the collar, a strange scent of perfume. “How could you?!” they fume. “I thought you loved me.” A day late and a dollar short, the bond of trust has been irrevocably shattered. Another relationship withers on the vine.
What a sad state of affairs. It’s politically correct to have a friendly kind of love for a variety of children, relatives and friends. But only a menace to society would have passionate sexual love for more than one person. Society says this is taking the biblical mandate to love others fervently beyond acceptable boundaries¾especially if our new love interest is drop-dead gorgeous! Somehow that’s a horse of a different color.
When our first flame smolders, we seek to rekindle the passion by pursuing greener pastures. We compare the worst faults of our soon-to-be ex to the best qualities of our latest love interest. Eventually, our nit picking leads to Splitsville. Multiply this scenario ad infinitum and the by-product is a society of rampant divorce. This game of successive relationships could most aptly be described as serial monogamy. Blame it all on an unwavering allegiance to an antiquated code of ethics that imposes artificial restrictions on our freedom to love more than one individual concurrently.
These casualties of love should not exist in Christendom. Yet divorce statistics among believers are about the same as for non-Christians. The church is called to have a positive impact on the community. Instead, our culture is having a negative impact on the church.
Being a Christian means being an imitator of Christ. Marital relations were meant to imitate the relationship between Christ and His church. And how does Christ love His church? Christ loves all Christians everywhere, completely and totally. And His love for us is not predicated on anything we’ve done.
Many Christians confuse acts of love with love itself. Although Christians should feed the hungry, clothe the homeless, and help those in need, it is possible to do all these things and not have love. It is even possible to give all our possessions to the poor or surrender our bodies to be burned without genuine love (1Co 13:3). So let’s all do good things for those we love. But let’s make sure those good actions are motivated by good intentions. And let’s not use actions as a disguise for our lack of feelings. Example: While traveling in a car, a wife complains that her husband never says, “I love you.” He responds lethargically with, “But I just told you to fasten your seatbelt.”
Christians should love one another deeply from the heart (1Pe 1:22). How is that possible without passion? And are we supposed to feel passionate about others while suppressing our feelings about the part of them that is sexual? Critics of pornography say that porn is dehumanizing because it emphasizes the sexual and neglects the humanity of the person being portrayed. But if the sexual part of us is part of our humanity, then aren’t those who claim men should love women as if they were men advocating a similar brand of dehumanization? First Peter 1:22 advocates the exact opposite of our politically correct monogamous society which promotes restricting our passionate love to only one person. The mandate of 1 Peter 1:22 couldn’t be clearer. We’re to extend passionate love to the entire Christian community.
The church is like a physical body (1Co 12:12-31). Each Christian is a member of that body, and every member is required to have concern for every other member. That concern includes feelings.
Genuine love includes expressing our feelings appropriately. Again, that may or may not include sexual expression. Let’s face it¾not everyone has a sexual attraction for everyone else.
Some people see love as all feelings and no actions, while others see love as all actions and no feelings. Love should be a combination of sentiment and deeds. Love is a lifestyle. It is also a decision, not just something we fall into. It is not an act of genuine love to give a sexual partner a social disease or an unwanted child, no matter how one might feel. Neither is it an act of genuine love to allow our feelings to run rampant while engaging in conduct that will probably destroy someone else’s marriage. Genuine love always takes into account what is in the best interest of everyone concerned. Nevertheless, although we must master our feelings, if we continually suppress our feelings in order to avoid sexual temptations, as some suggest, then we gradually turn into sexual lepers. A leper is someone without feelings. Without feelings, we can lose a body part and not know it.
Today’s world is desperate for love. We’ve created an environment so emotionally constipated that people almost have to drown to get some mouth-to-mouth. As the Joker said in the movie Batman, “This town needs an enema!”
Thou shalt love thy neighbor
as thyself (Even if thy neighbor is
a beautiful babe or a handsome hunk)
Humanly speaking, it’s virtually impossible not to love some people more than others. Not everyone is equally attractive to us. We have more in common with some than others. Plus, we all have time limitations. Many complain they don’t even have enough time to spend with their monogamous partner as it is. No wonder few people bother to explore intimate relationships beyond monogamy. Nevertheless, loving our neighbors as ourselves is the ultimate biblical ideal (Mt 22:39)¾even if they’re beautiful babes or handsome hunks.
Why wait until Heaven to love one another?
John MacArthur addresses the question of what love will be like in Heaven. According to MacArthur, you “will enjoy an eternal companionship in Heaven [with your spouse] that is more perfect than any earthly partnership. The difference is that you will have such a perfect relationship with every other person in Heaven as well.” MacArthur says, “If having such a deep relationship with your spouse here is so wonderful, imagine how glorious it will be to enjoy a perfect relationship with every other human in the whole expanse of Heaven¾forever!”
But why wait? What’s wrong with having a perfect loving relationship with every other Christian right now? Isn’t this what Jesus meant when He said to love others as He loved us? Isn’t this what we’re all praying for when we say, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”?
Who should we love
most¾our spouses or Jesus?
Matthew 10:37 and Luke 14:26 record a hard pronouncement by Jesus¾anyone who loves a family member more than Christ is not worthy to be called a Christian. Although our love for Jesus should help us love others more perfectly, it should come as no surprise when God puts our priorities to the test. Jesus demands that our love for Him be infinitely greater than our love for anyone else¾spouses included.
To illustrate this, consider the following scenario.
Bob and Jane have what seems like a perfect Christian marriage. Bob comes home from a typical day at the office, expecting his faithful Christian wife to welcome his arrival with her usual homecoming kiss. Instead, Jane is sobbing.
“Honey, … I’m in love with another man.”
Bob’s heart pounds. His palms sweat. Masking his fury, Bob’s response is cold and calculated.
“Did you just say you ‘love’ another man?”
“Yes,” she replies. “Immensely!”
Bob goes ballistic! “Are you telling me you love this, this… home-wrecker… just as much as me?”
Jane’s response jabs like an ice pick.
“Yes, sweetheart,” she replies. “In fact, I love him even more than you¾a lot more.”
“That does it! I’ll kill the bum! Who is he? What’s his name?”
After a long, torturous silence, Jane reveals the secret identity of her heartthrob. Bob’s rival is none other than… you guessed it¾Jesus Christ!
Exhibiting a momentary sigh of relief, Bob snickers and strolls away.
“Whew!” Bob murmurs, patting the moisture from his brow. “You had me going. I thought this was something serious.”
Maybe this would have been your response. If so, then perhaps this checklist will prove edifying.
· Do you think of Jesus as a man with a full range of human emotions?
· Is Jesus too nebulous or too far away to be concerned with?
· Is Jesus the top priority in your life?
Luke 14:25 says that unless we love Jesus more than our spouses, we aren’t even Christians. Imagine… living in Jesus’ day. Imagine… our Lord requiring your spouse to love Him more than you. Imagine… your spouse taking the words of Jesus at face value as she displays more affection for her Savior than for you. What would your reaction be? What should it be?
What does the Bible
“REALLY” say about jealousy?
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Okay, I would not be jealous if my wife loved Jesus. But I have every right to be jealous if my wife loved any man other than Jesus. And I’d certainly be jealous if she was having sex another man.”
Is this attitude biblical?
Whether or not it would be ethical for your wife to have sex with anyone else but you is a complex question that is beyond the scope of this chapter. It is dealt with thoroughly in other chapters. But for now, we’re evaluating the causes of jealousy and whether this emotion can and should be controlled.
According to Ayala Malach Pines, jealousy can best be defined as “…a complex reaction to a perceived threat to a valued relationship or to its quality.” Emotions associated with jealousy include pain, anger, rage, envy, sadness, fear, grief, and humiliation.
Yet Pines says that people can be trained to change their thoughts as they relate to jealousy. And a change in thought patterns will be accompanied by a change in emotions. A Christian should not allow his mind to be ruled by emotion. Instead, he should harness his emotions, ruling them with rationale. I’m glad God rules His emotions¾otherwise we’d all be toast.
What is godly jealousy?
Jealousy can be good or bad, depending on the circumstances.
Second Corinthians 11:2 is an example of godly jealousy. Paul is jealous because of his concern for the Corinthians¾false teachers were leading them astray.
Godly jealousy can be defined as feelings one has toward a believer who compromises his affections for God by following false gods or false teachings. God gets jealous whenever a believer loves anyone or anything more than Him.
What is ungodly jealousy?
Jealousy can also be ungodly.
It was ungodly jealousy that incited Cain to murder Abel. It was ungodly jealousy that motivated Joseph’s brothers to abandon him. The brother of the prodigal son exhibited ungodly jealousy when his father threw a welcome home bash for the returning wayward wanderer.
Envy is a type of jealousy condemned in the Bible. Left unchecked, envy can be aroused when someone else is better looking, more talented, or more endowed with material possessions. The evil leaders of Jesus’ day became envious when Jesus gained popularity and threatened their authority.
Throughout history, jealousy has produced pain, trauma, and tragedy. Everything from murder and aggression to hatred, lowered self-esteem, depression, suicide, domestic violence, destruction of romantic relationships, marital problems, and divorce have been attributed to the green-eyed monster of jealousy. One nationwide survey indicates that jealousy is a problem in one-third of all couples coming for marital therapy (White & Devine, 1991).
Pines says that “in the long run it [jealousy] causes more problems than it solves. The reason: It greatly reduces people’s freedom to act and their ability to cope directly with jealousy triggers.”
godly and ungodly jealousy
How do we know if jealousy is godly or ungodly?
Before we allow rage to consume us, we should evaluate our feelings rationally. Since the Bible uses the same Greek word¾ zeloo¾to refer to both godly and ungodly jealousy, we cannot determine whether jealousy is good or bad by analyzing how we feel. All jealousy feels pretty much the same.
If we encounter our wife or girlfriend flirting with a serial killer, it is entirely appropriate to feel jealous. In this circumstance, jealousy is a healthy emotion. It should motivate us to protect someone we love from a psycho. It is also good to protect the woman you love from an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease.
On the other hand, if your lady is flirting with a man of high moral character, jealousy may be inappropriate. Why do you feel jealous? Does this man pose a threat? Is he better looking? Do you think of your lady as property to control?
Although women were regarded as property in the Old Testament, the New Testament tells husbands and wives to be subject to each other as unto Christ (Eph 5:21).
Marital relationships should reflect the ultimate relationship between Jesus and His church. Jesus is deeply and intimately in love with all Christians. Should that make us jealous? How silly!
Yet it is just as silly to believe that today’s lovers should have exclusive ownership to their beloved’s affections. If we regard our lovers as possessions, jealousy will automatically be aroused every time we catch them displaying affection for another. Even if we don’t observe any foul play first hand, we suspect the worst. Everyone has become a suspect. Everybody is out to steal our beloved’s affections. This is especially true if we believe love is a limited commodity.
Jealousy is not natural¾it is learned. Jealousy is virtually nonexistent among many cultures, i.e. the Eskimos, the Marquesans, the Lobi of West Africa, the Siriono of Bolivia, and the Toda of India. Couples involved in either a group marriage or the swinging scene often adjust to an open lifestyle with little or no jealousy or guilt.
What causes jealousy?
Some psychologists believe a major cause of jealousy is low self-esteem. Feelings of inadequacy cripple countless victims. Insecurity leads to paranoia. Paranoid lovebirds fear the withdrawal of their partner’s affection at the drop of a pin.
This is not to say we should blindly trust our lovers. Trust must be earned. However, incarcerating our lovers to a proverbial isolation chamber of sexual exclusiveness is not the answer. If we genuinely love someone, we need to give them the freedom, yes, even the encouragement, to love others. Otherwise, they will resent our love.
Poor physical health, poor mental health, and insecurity are other factors believed to contribute to jealousy.
Jealousy among rival wives
Pines says, “…jealousy always results from an interaction between a certain predisposition and a certain triggering event.”5 In biblical times, women’s predisposition to what triggered jealousy was quite different from today. When Sarah became jealous of her handmaid Hagar, it was not because Hagar was sleeping with Sarah’s husband. Sarah persuaded Abraham to sleep with Hagar because Sarah was barren and wanted an heir. It wasn’t until after Hagar got pregnant that Sarah became embittered with jealousy (Ge 16:4).
Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, was involved in a similar situation. Jacob had two wives. Jacob’s first wife, Leah, gave birth to four sons while Jacob’s second wife, Rachel, remained barren. This invoked Rachel’s jealousy towards Leah (Ge 30:1). Jacob was married to Leah and having sex with her long before Rachel married Jacob. Yet there is no mention of Rachel displaying any jealousy until after Leah became pregnant. Plus, both women were offering Jacob their handmaids for sexual favors, trying to out-produce their sibling rival in the baby department. The mere fact that their husband was having sex with these other women apparently didn’t bother them.
What does the Bible “REALLY” say about love? The Christian ideal is for everyone to love everyone¾perfectly reflecting Jesus’ love for us. Expressing our love sexually may or may not be in the best interests of everyone concerned, depending on a wide variety of factors.
Does this mean it is wrong for a man and woman to be fully committed to each other? Of course not. But it is selfish to say that because I love you, I will not allow you to love anyone else but me. If we are to reflect Christ’s love perfectly, we must remember that perfect love includes deep feelings of intimacy for a wide variety of people.
You may concede, “Okay, I have no problem with my spouse or significant other loving other people, just as long as it’s not a sexual kind of love.” But the Bible does not differentiate between “sexual love” and “non-sexual love.”
We should not suppress our feelings for someone simply because we are afraid those feelings might lead to sexual expression.
Christ did not restrict His love to one person while forsaking all others.
Neither should we.
MacArthur, John F. The Glory of Heaven: The Truth About Heaven, Angels and Eternal Life. Wheaten, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1996, p. 138.
 Pines, Ayala Malach. Romantic Jealousy. New York, NY and London: St. Martin’s Press, 1998, p. 3.
Ibid. p. 44.
 O’Neill, Nena & George. (paperback edition, revised) New York Open Marriage: A New Life Style for Couples.: M. Evans and Company, 1984, p. 239.
5Pines, Ayala Malach. Romantic Jealousy. New York, NY and London: St. Martin’s Press, 1998, p. 41.