Americans are obsessed with happiness. We are bombarded daily with images of things that promise at least temporary happiness—whether it’s a laundry detergent, a gourmet meal, an exotic vacation or a sexual triumph. Meanwhile, social scientists study whether we feel happy, and if not, why not.
Many Christians are suspicious of the pursuit of happiness. They know that self-denial and self-sacrifice are part of Christian life, and they worry that happiness is too often equated with a transient feeling. They may also believe that acting right does not involve doing what makes us happy. In fact, they may think that doing the right thing usually hurts—it’s an act of duty, not pleasure. Maybe Christians should not be concerned about happiness.