Your Happiness Is Not Important

Your Happiness Is Not Important April 16, 2019

Good news! Blogger Lori Alexander has finally addressed an issue I’ve raised many times. Lori has repeatedly claimed that women are happiest when they follow God’s command that they submit to and obey their husband, and stay at home to raise their children. Indeed, Lori has claimed that women who don’t follow God’s commands are unhappy and miserable. But what if they’re not? What about women who have careers and are happy?

Lori has news for women like me: “Your happiness does not negate the Word of God.” In other words, so what. Lori has said repeatedly that women who stay at home are happy while women who have careers are miserable. But when told that there are women who have careers and are happy, her response is so what. It doesn’t matter.

Oh, and she redefines happiness:

A life well lived will not be a life that was happy, but one that sought happiness in building its foundation on things of everlasting value. The things that God says He blesses. “Happy is that people, whose God is the LORD” (Psalm 144:15).

Way to move the goal posts! Also, what is the difference between being happy and seeking happiness in something? Or those seeking happiness actually supposed to obtain it?

Lori explains what prompted this post:

Women write me saying how happy they are doing things of this world, even after being presented with God’s Word. They tell me that what they are doing is “working” for them, and somehow I am to believe that so long as it works for them and makes them happy, it must be okay. Certainly God wants His children to be happy, right?  They tell me this often when I teach them that God’s will for them is to be keepers at home. They would be bored at home. They “need” to use their talents away from their homes. Their careers make them happy and fulfilled. One woman wrote on my Facebook page that she’s a nurse with a husband and children who thinks it’s fine to not be a keeper at home but to continue on with her career because she has a “happy and fulfilling life.”

I’m glad these women are writing to Lori about this! It’s something she needs to hear! Lori, though, is missing the point. These women are writing to Lori because she didn’t just tell her readers that God wanted them in the home, she also told her readers that that’s where they’ll be happy.

I mean, check it out:

From what I have seen, living in sin makes people very bitter and angry, whereas living in obedience to the Lord brings joy. It’s your choice, young women.

And again, here:

You can’t go against God’s clearly stated will for you, young women, and expect good things to happen.

And once again:

… the farther women go from God’s will for them, the more unhappy they will become.

And from the same post above:

Women were happier when they were doing what God calls them to do – being barefoot (shoes are probably okay!) and pregnant in the home! God’s ways are truly best.

Let’s be clear—Lori has said that following God’s plan brings women joy, happiness, and good things while parting from that plan makes women angry, bitter, and unhappy. No one is reading this into his words. These are her words. 

The women writing to Lori are telling her that they have lived outside of what Loric claims is God’s word, and yet they’re happy. They are telling her this because she has said this is a thing that does not happen. They are letting her know that it does, in fact, happen.

In this context, her response—that their happiness does not negate God’s Word—is bizarre. They never said their happiness negated God’s Word. They simply let her know that their happiness didn’t seem to fit with her interpretation of God’s Word.

To her credit, Lori doesn’t end here. She does try to make sense of these women’s experiences. She offers three responses to the women who have written to her.

She starts by warning these women that they will not stay happy:

The thing is, by putting your children in school and leaving them with others, carries with it the potential for all kinds of wickedness.

What would Lori say to those women who put their children in school only to have them grow up into mature, responsible people? What would Lori say to those women who had careers and lived out their full lives and never faced the dire consequences she proclaims are surely coming sometime?

Lori then takes another tact:

Another thing to consider, you may very well be happy, but it is not the level of joy that God intended for you. You’re underestimating the joy that God has in store for you. You’re actually forfeiting blessings that God intended for you to specifically have.

In other words, Lori claims that these women writing to her may be happy having careers, but they would the happier staying at home. What would she say to women who tried staying at home, only to find themselves—as those who have written to her have said—bored and unhappy?

Years ago, when I was in a local moms group on facebook, it seemed like every other week another mom was posting laying out her frustration at being home with her children and her desire to have a job and put them in daycare or preschool, so that she could have some respite. Not every woman enjoys being at home with young children. Some women find that period of their lives miserable, and are glad for it to end.

Of course, none of this fits with Lori’s claims.

Never fear, though! Lori has yet another argument!

Consider for a moment that the word “blessing” in the Bible is often translated “happy” because the two words go hand-in-hand. Should not the things that God blesses be those things that we seek to set up as the foundation of our lives? The world has many things that can make us happy in the short run, but God’s blessings are the things of substance that endure for an eternity.

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). If God has blessed marriage, family and children, will He not also bless the full-time homemaker? After all, she may be the one through whom many of God’s blessings flow. Will God not fill her up with great happiness and joy knowing that the foundation she is building may be with a great and worthy sacrifice, but when done well, with God and His will at the center of it all, it produces far greater eternal value than any other career?  What career can compare to growing up two, three, five, nine, or even thirteen little souls who will be glorifying God together with you for eternity? “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:5).

So Lori does acknowledge that “the world has many things that can make us happy,” even though that seems to be in contrast to her earlier statements. She simply argues that this happiness is only in “the short term.”

If we set up God’s Ways as the foundation of our life, Lori says, God will pour out his blessings on us—even if it initially involves sacrifice. And those blessings bring happiness, because blessings and happiness go hand in hand. But we can only gain these blessings by building our lives on God’s Word. And that may mean sacrifice.

There is little in this world of any lasting value that is not won with hard fought sacrifice. Women are going into careers in droves, sacrificing the best years of marriage, family and baby making for some elusive dream of doing something important and worthwhile with their lives, all the while not considering that perhaps the most worthwhile things they can be do is to seek the things that God blesses. Does God say he blesses careers?  Hard work, yes, but on women in careers God is silent. No blessings are promised,  But for the full-time mom with her little brood under her watchful eye, her caring hands and loving work, such things God has asked of us. What God asks and promises, He will abundantly bless those who do things His ways.

In the end, Lori’s answers boil down to the following:

  1. You may be happy having a career, but you are courting long term disaster by having “strangers” raise your children.
  2. You may be happy having a career, but you would actually be happier if you stayed at home with your children.
  3. You may be happy having a career, but you are forfeiting God’s blessings, and it is his blessings that last forever.

I can’t figure out whether or not Lori actually thinks happiness matters, because she keeps going back and forth on this. Consider the contrast between her second and third points above. Would women be happier staying at home—and they just don’t realize it? Or is whether or not they’d be happy at home not important—is the only thing that matters that they would receive God’s blessings if they stayed at home, even if it means sacrifice?

I find it really frustrating when someone makes claims that are not in keeping with reality, and then, when confronted with reality, refuses to actually reexamine the assumptions behind these claims. Lori’s claims aren’t based on evidence. They’re based on her own preconceived notions, which she claims are based in the Bible. Despite the fact that there are many different interpretations of the Bible—which ought to make her more open to listening to contrary evidence and less willing to assume that her interpretation is correct—she won’t budge.

She has already decided what she believes and is uninterested in anything else.

I find this perspective maddening.

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