Some of the commenters to this blog have asked, "How is jealousy related to religion?" I can't totally answer this question in a short blog entry, but the connection is deep and strong. Jealousy is t…

Some of the commenters to this blog have asked, "How is jealousy related to religion?" I can't totally answer this question in a short blog entry, but the connection is deep and strong. Jealousy is taught and encouraged by all the patriarchal religions. Whether Hindu or Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or Mormon, all claim the woman is subordinate to the man and that the man is responsible for mate guarding his female(s). It is fundamentally based on the notion of ownership and possession. The ownership idea is so strong in many religions that they endorse the severe punishment or even killing of women for expressing themselves sexually. All the major religions endorse this idea.


From St. Paul to Mohammed, men have been taught to control their women. They are property to be used and controlled. While Christians like to use the language of love and compassion, there is nothing compassionate about, "Women, be subject to your husbands and keep quite unless spoken to." Straight from Paul. And this is but a tiny part of the misogyny of Christianity to say nothing of the other patriarchal religions.

As I said in previous posts, it is a mistake to see jealousy as anything but a construct made up of other ideas and emotions. Break it down into its component parts, and one can see how religion teaches these ideas to children beginning with the Adam and Eve story, where Adam failed to control Eve. The story is based on the notion of ownership which is a key component of jealousy. Take away the idea that any one can own anyone else, that any adult is required to control or submit to another adult, and jealousy falls like a house of cards.

As I explore in Sex and God, notions of ownership, control and jealousy are key components in shaming people, making them feel guilty and keeping them infected with a particular religion.

Views: 58

Tags: Buddhism, Islam, Jealousy, Mormon, Patriarchy, St. Paul, misogyny

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Comment by Glen Rosenberg on August 3, 2012 at 8:50am

Also note Jane Goodall has observed in chimps, our closest cousins, tool making, war, and jealousy. Still think it likely that jealousy is innate, a result of evolution.

It is also likely the case that religion utilizes this innate emotion to perpetuate an unjust social order and in so doing itself.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on August 2, 2012 at 7:03pm

It does not betray with accuracy because I grew up in an atheist household and have known many atheists outside family. Which is not to say it cant come from the culture which of course has cross currents with religion. And I lack knowledge to form a conviction. I know enough about anthropology to know that sexual relationships are variegated. But I also wonder if sexual selection makes an innate sense of sexual jealousy a biological imperative colored by culture and religion.

Comment by Darrel Ray on August 2, 2012 at 6:47pm
Your comment betrays a Western, religious idea of sex and relationships. If you were a member of the Hadza tribe in Africa or the Na in China or any of dozens of tribes in the Amazon, this idea would not occur to you. I deal extensively with this in Section III of Sex and God, titled: Follow the Culture.
Comment by Glen Rosenberg on August 2, 2012 at 5:45pm

I wonder whether primitive humans are not also subject to jealousy. What of native americans who in some cases were unfamiliar with notions of western ownership subject to jealousy?

I agree jealousy is a destructive agent and I love to lay blame at doorstep of religion. But I am not convinced it is to blame. Not sure.

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