Why is jealousy a sin?


When Isn’t jealousy just a normal feeling like sadness or anger etc?
I get sometimes jealous of prettier women but I don’t get jealous about money or other ‘material things’.
When I was younger and more attractive,sometimes some women would get jealous towards me but at the time I was oblivious to it and definitely didn’t encourage it.
No that I’m older and ‘plainer’ It’s hard not to be jealous as a woman because women are expected to be pretty and this pressure is especially strong from men because they want an attractive wife/girlfriend.
For the most part women seem less superficial/less focused on needs for looks in a boyfriend but men are more expectant of beauty.


Beauty is beauty, there’s no way around it. What you are feeling is normal.Focus on how beautiful you be in Heaven, and don’t worry about this life.


This is a pretty deep question. Here’s my best stab at answering it.

Jealousy seems to necessarily involve one of two feelings (or both) –

  1. Wishing that someone else were not as ((desirable quality here)) as they are.
  2. Wishing that you were more ((desirable quality here)) than you are.

The first feeling wishes ill-will against another; I think it’s pretty plain to see why that’s wrong. We ought to celebrate the gifts God has bestowed upon others (as well as the gifts he has bestowed upon us).

I think that the second feeling is less serious than the first. The second feeling can sometimes be okay: for example, if you observe a virtuous person and wish that you were virtuous like them, that might motivate you to live a more virtuous life. But that isn’t even jealousy, really. That’s more like humble self-reflection. In the case where you want some quality (like beauty) or something someone else has and there really isn’t much you can do about it, I think that the problem is that there may be a lack of gratitude for the many good things that God has blessed you with.

All of this said, though, jealousy (via #1 or #2 or both) is a natural human reaction to certain situations. Sometimes you can’t prevent impulsive feelings or thoughts. If you notice yourself having jealous thoughts, just catch yourself and think about something else. It’s not a sin unless you meant to do it. I guess I’d say just to not indulge in those thoughts once you realize they’re happening. I try to divert my thoughts whenever they go towards jealousy, judgment, pride, etc. Between that and the grace of the Sacrament of Confession, you start to have those feelings crop up much less.

And, on a less theological level: Rozellelily, I bet you’re more beautiful than you think :slight_smile: Also, you’re made in the image and likeness of God, so you’re definitely beautiful.


That’s very kind of you @catholic4ever :slight_smile:


Good question. I envy your inquisitive skills.


Jealousy involves wrath towards the person (object) of jealously. It leads to hatred of the person or self-hatred, or both.


You are correct, feelings in themselves are not sinful.
Just as the feeling of love is not virtuous.

However many of these (bodily) feeling words can also describe free choices (of the soul).
Hence if by “love” we mean an act of charity (spiritual choice to help another we might actually feel dislike for) that is virtuous.

Jealousy does not have a corresponding english word for the spiritual vice which is sinful.

Also, if we choose to aid and abet a bad feeling then that then becomes sinful.


Envy is sadness or anger because another person has good fortune.

Jealousy is more complicated.
If somebody has a lovely bracelet, and you admire it, and plan to get a bracelet just like it, that’s not a sin.
Or if somebody’s success inspires you to be successful yourself, that’s not a sin.

If you become so enamored of this bracelet that you plot to steal it, that’s when you’re moving into sin.

Also, sometimes it’s hard to be genuinely happy for another person’s good fortune when things are going badly in your own life. You won’t be able to “switch off” your jealous feelings, but it could be a process to work on (God knows when we’re making an honest effort).


I often wonder how much this idea is self-imposed on women by themselves. You see posts about it all the time. But in fairness, how do men actually communicate this? I’ve never said, or heard a man say this.
I mean, I tell my wife she’s beautiful all the time. But sometimes she doesn’t feel like she is.

I’m not trying to be critical here. I’m just genuinely curious, because from my perspective this is how it seems.


I think it has to do with what (who) we observe men gravitating towards. I think throughout history it must have been more prevalent for men to be drawn towards a certain physical ideal. This is all just speculation on my part and relies heavily on men being affected by visual things (which is debatable or so I’m told lol!)


That may be the case, but different men find different things attractive too. As well I think the whole “visual male” thing is very much exaggerated. I’ve met some attractive women who actually seem less attractive because of their attitude or views or personality etc.

It’s a mistake to believe that men “just” go for looks. Or that because a man sees an attractive woman he’s automatically lustful or would favour a fling with her over the deep and intimate bond that he has forged with his spouse.

I guess it sometimes seems to me that some women are needlessly insecure because of a false idea of men.


I agree. I would also add that I (a woman) do think that certain physical attributes are important for both sexes. They can show that they other person takes care of themselves; that they are concerned about their health etc. It’s when we rely heavily on excessive things (makeup for instance) that things can get distorted.


CCC means Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Sin "has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.” (CCC 1849) Yet, for actual sin there must be a voluntary choice of something. Jealousy is a feeling of anger or bitterness. These come from an initial desire. Therefore we see in moral teaching that to covet what is not yours is sinful. The anger or bitterness that results may lead then to voluntary sinful thoughts and acts of disrespect, harm, theft, lying, and sexual sins.

Collins Dictionary, Covet:

  • If you covet something, you strongly want to have it for yourself.
  • Word origin of ‘covet’ C13: from Old French coveitier, from coveitié eager desire, ultimately from Latin cupiditās cupidity

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that jealousy is a work of the flesh rather than a fruit of the Spirit (CCC 1852) and marriage is threatened by jealousy (CCC 1606).


Yes, coveting is the sin.
Wanting something someone else has, whatever that may be.

It’s not helpful unless it inspires you to emulate how they gained what they have and that depends on what it is they do have. If it’s beauty then make yourself look presentable and forget about it, we are what we are after all. If it’s an item then if it does you no harm to possess a copy then buy one.

Generally, if a particular way of thinking moves you away from God then desist. If it’s neutral then perhaps it’s okay. It goes without saying that we should choose to move towards God, closer to God of course.


Jealousy isn’t strictly speaking a sin. Envy is. You can be righteously jealous over things that are properly yours. However, it does sound like you are speaking of envy. Remember that intrusive thoughts or emotions are not sins in themselves, indulging them is.


Yes. For example if your husband has an affair, it might inspire you to be righteously jealous of the other woman.


Aquinas would agree with your first point it seems http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3036.htm

@ op: The summa is always a good first try to look these things up except maybe after the catechism.


You can look up the 7 deadly sins and the cardinal virtues. These should be part of our catechism when we are kids and as adults, teach them to our children.

One write up I found, although there will be many comments that are worthy of our time and pondering…

Holding hands with greed is her ugly sister Envy. Envy is not deadly with the violent rapacity of greed, but with a kind of slow poison that contaminates the soul. When we envy other people it eats away at us. We become discontented and angry, and that inner burning soon turns towards getting what we want at whatever cost. Envy is a deadly sin because it kills gratitude. It kills contentment. It kills happiness, and eventually, like greed, it kills the gift of charity in the soul.


Catholic dictionary: Vanity

Or vainglory, an inordinate desire to manifest one’s own excellence. It differs from pride, which is the uncontrolled desire for self-esteem, in that vanity primarily seeks to show others what a person has or has achieved. A vain person looks for praise from others and may go to great lengths to obtain it. More commonly, vanity is associated with an exaggerated importance attached to multiple details, especially external appearances, which in no way contain the value attributed to them.
Continues: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=37036


I came into the church in my 20’s and was delightfully released from this pressure, on myself, to always present myself to the world in a way that I thought I was required to. It was a bondage that I put on myself. No one else. From the images we are constantly bombarded with from the world. Magazine covers that have women that are totally airbrushed to perfection and models that are 6 feet tall showing off the latest trends in clothing. I have never put nail polish on for decades, or make up other than lipstick. I wear a big smile when I great people and compliment them on their beauty, their kindness, their loveableness. Mother Teresa had the beauty of Christ shining from her. The world really needs women to bring that message.

I am older and plainer and like wine, better with age. The reason? I’ve been going to confession for decades, and the Eucharist, the bread of life! God is with me, and there is joy there. The world traps people in a dark maze that is hard to find a way out of.

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