Thanks to Tubi, I’m currently revisiting Filmation’s classic Saturday morning cartoon The New Adventures of Flash Gordon and I’m really digging the trip down nostalgia lane. I have to say, though, there’s one thing which flew over my head while watching the show as a kid that is now blatantly obvious to my adult self. That would be just how many of the episodes revolve around the various women of Mongo wanting to bed our hero, like immediately. Dale Arden noticed, though. A lot.
That stink-eye Dale gives Princess Aura is meme-worthy animation. Ah, jealousy. Now you’d think the Bible would completely disapprove of that old green-eyed monster but, as with all things scriptural, it’s a bit more nuanced than some might imagine. In fact, there are times the Biblical authors describe God himself as jealous, so by default, it can’t be an all bad, right?
The trick, it seems, is to distinguish between jealously and its closely related cousins, covetousness and envy. The Church defines covetousness as the desire for that which is not yours and currently unattainable as it belongs to someone else or lies outside your ability to get. Envy, in the other hand, is described as the desire of that which is not yours and the begrudging of the person who actually possesses it. Both of these forms of “jealousy” are right out for obvious spiritual reasons.
True jealousy, on the other hand, is simply the fear of losing something that you feel already belongs to you. It’s a naturally occurring defensive emotion and as such is neither good nor bad in and of itself. But if that’s the case, why do we have verses like Sirach 26:6 which warn, “There is grief of heart and sorrow when a wife is envious of a rival, and a tongue-lashing makes it known to all."? What makes one kind of jealously bad and the other not?
Well, to figure that out, let’s go back to that idea of a jealous God. The Bible tells us that God gets jealous when He sees His people being seduced by the religions of false gods. So, in that context, His “jealousy” is an expression of His desire to preserve His relationship with us against any rivals, to keep us particularly as His own. And that kind of jealousy is fine. It’s merely an indication of a deep emotional attachment.
What’s not fine is if we use that natural feeling of jealousy as an excuse to indulge in actions that are wrong. These can include irrational self-doubt and loathing, unbridled rage, hatred of the perceived threat, or even, if Lifetime movies are any indication, flat-out murder. All of those things can damage us spiritually and harm our relationship with God and others.
Although I have a few episodes of Flash Gordon left, it’s to Dale’s credit that, so far, she has not succumbed to any of those negative repercussions of jealousy. Even when Mongo’s princesses are full-on displaying themselves like baboons in heat, she keeps her cool. She basically acknowledges the obvious, reminds Flash where his bread is buttered, and then gets back to the important mission at hand. Now if only Prince Barin had followed her example.