Free And Happy Women

Recently I saw a tagline for a television program that really caught my attention: “Do you want to be happy or do you want to be free?” I started to think about the correlation between freedom and happiness in the Christian life; then more specifically in the lives of Christian women.

Free And Happy Women

There is the perception by some that we are stuck in a misogynistic regime of suppression where we are inferior to men in every way and have no voice or position in the home or church, where we have to decide whether we want to be happy or free. I would like to refute this and show how we, as Christian women, can be happy and free.

It is stated as fact in Scripture, that when we became Christians we were made free from the power of sin and are no longer bound to behave in a way that Satan dictates. Paul told the Roman Christians in chapter 6 of his letter to them that they were set free from sin and no longer slaves to it. Our happiness will come in service to a new Master. Not a man, but the God who made us and knows how we function best. Our incentive for serving this new Master is not fear (in the sense of terror) but love and thankfulness to the One who died and rose again to set us free from Satan’s tyranny and prepare a place in heaven for us. “For the love of Christ compels us, because He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). So what does the Bible, the handbook of our Creator, say about how we can be most happy in our life of freedom from sin?

We are free to find happiness in sexual purity.

“Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12, emphasis mine).

“Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. Flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:13,18).

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

So many lives are ruined because of sexual activity outside of marriage with the misery and confusion that it brings. Of course, for any who have fallen in this area, it is important to remember that our heavenly Father longs to renew fellowship with us; He is a God of forgiveness and recovery. Although there may be a sense of loss that could be carried for the rest of life, “if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 emphasis mine). However, keeping ourselves pure means we can know the uninterrupted joy of a clear conscience and remain “sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).

We are free to find happiness in a wise choice of partner.

She is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39b).

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).

The right choice of a life partner is paramount to our happiness and the Bible is very direct on how to avoid certain unhappiness. Compatibility is crucial and if our fundamental beliefs don’t align it’s impossible to have a true blending of will and purpose. Most would understand that marrying a man who is not a Christian is an unwise choice but the verse in 1 Corinthians 7 goes further and shows that it is insufficient to marry a man for the sole reason that he is a Christian. The choice made must be in submission to the Lordship of Christ, with prayerful thought and guidance. Although this verse is primarily directed at widows who are re-marrying it is no less true of a first marriage.

We are free to find happiness in singleness

“Some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can” (Matthew 19:12 NLT).

“The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy, both in body and spirit” (1 Corinthians 7:34).

There are two overarching reasons for being single: you haven’t yet met the right person or you have chosen to be so. If you find yourself to be in the former category and unable to find happiness in your situation, can I urge you to talk to the Lord about it. He has a purpose and a plan (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 32:8). It may be that in His wisdom and grace God is gifting you time, without the distraction of a husband and family, to pour your effort into His things. Perhaps He has another work in mind for you, or perhaps He does have a husband in store but has willed, “not yet”. I encourage you to seek His plan through prayer and Bible study. Rest in this; whatever the Lord’s purpose is for you it is for your good - so that you will become more like His Son (Romans 8:28-29). Though at times it may not feel this way, if you are living in the will of the Lord you are not missing out. Happiness is ultimately found in trusting Him and forming a close and living relationship with Him.

If you are choosing singleness for the work of the Lord, undoubtedly He will reward you for your sacrifice, both on earth and in eternity.

We who marry are free to find happiness in marriage and the home.

“Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22).

“Older women ... are to ... train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:3-4 ESV).

Some women have a misconception of what submission in a marriage looks like and perceive it to be demeaning and suggestive of inferiority. Not so! Stephen Grant, in his Marriage Matters study, assures us that, “Women and men are equal in nature, personhood, dignity and worth and have equal access to salvation”. In the partnership of marriage, two equals fulfil the role that their Creator has designed them for. To quote Stephen again, “The wife makes a choice to place herself under another equal, her husband, so that there can be order in the family. The purpose is to obey God and function in the design that He has ordered”. Of course, the flip side is that every husband is held to the incredibly high standard of loving his wife as Christ sacrificially loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25).

A lot of happiness results when a marriage functions this way, but not every marriage does. Some husbands, either because they are not Christians or because they are not behaving as Christian husbands should, “do not obey the word”, as Peter puts it in his first letter. His advice to Christian wives in this situation is this: “Be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct” (1 Peter 3:1-2 ESV). This is contrary to how most of us would instinctively act but I believe God has a special blessing for a woman who, despite unhappiness in her marital relationship, chooses to find happiness in obedience to Him.

I mentioned above Stephen Grant’s study called Marriage Matters. These subjects are covered in far more detail in this study, which can be found on the Hope Hall Bible Class app, in both audio and written form.

We are free to find happiness in a local church. 

“I urge you also, true companion, help those women who laboured with me in the gospel” (Philippians 4:3).

“I desire, therefore, that the men pray everywhere ... Let a woman learn in silence with all submission ... And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence” (1 Timothy 2:8,11,12).

We read over and over in Scripture how women play a vital role in ministry. The verses quoted above make clear that it is different to the one men play, but it is nevertheless crucial. Our participation at the church gatherings, although silent, means as much to God as that of the men. Always go prepared to participate! Outside of the church gatherings there are people who women can reach with the Gospel more easily than men. We can also nurture other women and teach them privately on subject areas not appropriate for public teaching. In short, don’t waste your energy straining against the perceived barriers of what you’re “not allowed to do”; instead, use the abilities God has given you for His glory in the situations for which He has fitted you.

Augustine said, “Through a woman we were sent to destruction; through a woman salvation was sent to us”. Eve stepped out of her role and it brought misery and bondage; Mary bowed to God’s will for her and it brought joy and redemption. Because our sins are forgiven and we have the Spirit of God, we have the power to choose freedom and happiness in every aspect of our lives.