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Who owns your body? It’s a hot topic today, with actress Alyssa Milano calling for a “sex strike” till legislators agree that women own their own bodies.
If you’re a Christian, you know the answer: God owns your body. “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). If you’re not a Christian, you are trying hard to unknow that. Romans says you do know it though: One cannot “suppress” (1:18) what one does not already know deep down.
In the mid-’70s my brother was being cute after I became a Christian: “You realize, don’t you, that now you have to submit to a husband?” He was saying I wouldn’t own my own body anymore. I didn’t take the bait: “You know, bro, I just stepped down from being lord of the whole universe; it is a very small thing to go one baby step further to submitting to a husband.”
John Lennon didn’t take the bait either. A female British interviewer set him up to cosign the up-and-coming view of marriage, but he wouldn’t sing her tune.
Interviewer: “Would it be fair to say we’re getting away from the property concept of relationships?” Lennon: “Of owning the other person. I think yeah we could be. But, eh, that’s all very well intellectually, but when you actually are in love with somebody you tend to be jealous, and want to own them and possess them 100 percent. Which I do. Where intellectually, before that, well I thought, right, owning a person is rubbish. I love Yoko. I want to possess her completely. I don’t want to stifle her. You know? That’s the danger, is that you want to possess them to death.”
Miles from political correctness and millimeters from truth!
Then he writes “Jealous Guy,” a plaintive solo full of the internal wranglings of a confused unbeliever who has imageness of God and lostness of man all tangled up with each other: “I was dreaming of the past, and my heart was beating fast. I began to lose control, I began to lose control.” Refrain: “I didn’t mean to hurt you; I’m sorry that I made you cry. I didn’t want to hurt you, I’m just a jealous guy.” Stanza 2: “I was feelin’ insecure: you might not love me anymore. I was shivering inside, I was shivering inside” (Repeat refrain) Stanza 3: “I was tryin’ to catch your eyes; thought that you was tryin’ to hide. I was swallowing my pain, I was swallowing my pain” (Repeat refrain).
Let’s pose a different question than the British lady’s: If you own something legitimately, is it wrong to be jealous over it?
John didn’t own Yoko legitimately, of course; they were both awash in broken covenants. But what of a legitimate Christian sexual relationship? Even Lennon intuits the appropriateness of possessiveness in such a case. “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does” (1 Corinthians 7:4). It applies both ways: “Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (v.4).
Jealousy is only an icky and destructive passion when we have no right to possession of the object of our jealousy. No wonder Song of Songs contains a strong undercurrent of warning on the dangers of romantic love aroused too quickly: Outside its proper bounds jealousy consumes the bearer: “For love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord” (8:6).
God is jealous and has a right to be because he has ownership; he has married us (Hosea 2:19; Romans 7:2). He churns with jealousy when we give ourselves over to another: “How can I give you up, O Ephraim?.... My heart recoils within me….” (Hosea 11:8).
The TV star with the sex strike idea is thrice wrong. She is wrong first in thinking her body is her own and not God’s. She is wrong second in thinking her body is her own and not her husband’s. She is wrong third in mistaking a growing person in her womb as part of herself.
Even Lennon wouldn’t go for that, it seems.