It's been said before: Today woman have more than they have ever had but they are more unhappy than they have ever been. In a recent Time article, Nancy Gibbs, using the newest statistics, enumerates the significant progress women have made in just one generation. But she goes on to acknowledge that as a result, women are also more stressed and burdened by the weight of their new responsibilities.

In my experience, when Christian women discuss this trend, they often do so with a cynical "I told you so" attitude. The common assumption is that women can (and should) realize their greatest potential by staying at home as a wife and mother and leaving the workplace to the man. They would be happy if they just did that, instead of chasing after equality.

But whether or not this assumption holds up to biblical scrutiny, it misses a vital point: It's not about happiness.

Jesus didn't address the Samaritan woman at the well—elevating her to a much higher place in society—so that she could be happy. Jesus didn't allow Mary to sit at his feet and learn—a place often occupied by male students—just to keep her happy. Christians don't follow God so that they can be happy. And Justin Wolfers, co-author of the study "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," told Time in trying to explain the trend, "As Susan Faludi said, the women's movement wasn't about happiness." It is about doing what is right. Or, as a Christian might put it, about bringing about God's vision for society.

Throughout the Bible, God grants women a significance that was unheard of in their culture. He was constantly elevating them to the status of men. And despite numerous passages delineating gender roles, not once does Scripture state that women are the inferior gender. Why, then, are many Christians not bothered by inequality between the men and women in society? Why weren't Christians the first ones to be outraged at women receiving less pay, not getting a well-deserved promotion, or having few educational options? God hated the discrimination that women suffered in the Bible, and his followers should have hated it when they saw it 50 years ago.

Helen Barrett Montgomery is one of the few woman figures of the church who strove relentlessly beside Susan B. Anthony to bring women into the realms of higher education and politics. Because Montgomery believed in the power of Christianity to transform the world—socially, politically, and intellectually—she was convinced that it could be used to make society more inclusive of women. She claimed that the women's movement "was not only legitimized by the gospel, but was in fact the core meaning of the gospel for human civilization." Without her diligent work in the movement, it may have been many more decades before women were appointed full-fledged foreign missionaries or before evangelistic outreach programs, schools, and other social services for women received funding. Her efforts truly helped to spread the gospel around the world.

The changes that Montgomery fought for were hard-earned, and it shouldn't be surprising that women are struggling to fulfill their new roles with lighthearted glee. And if women are feeling stressed as they settle into their new college classrooms, corner offices, and political cabinets, that doesn't mean it is a mistake for them to be there. In fact, that stress could be seen as an indicator of the potential they hold not only to shape society but to mold it according to the gospel. It is an intimidating job. Being salt to the world does bring deep joy, yes, but it is not always a happy task. It is hard. And it can feel burdensome.

I am a single woman on a career track where I honestly cannot foresee any obstacles related to my gender. This would certainly not have been the case 50 years ago, and I am sincerely grateful for women like Susan B. Anthony and Gloria Steinem, though I may not agree with their entire agenda. But I am particularly thankful for Montgomery (and I wonder what would have happened if more women in the church had taken up the cause of women's rights). As a result of their hard work, I could become a serious player in my office, and bring the gospel into an industry that is thoroughly unchristian. I sometimes feel the weight of this responsibility because the Lord has given me much and it is often hard to know how to pursue my career and with gospel purposes.

But am I happy? I think so. Would I be happier if I were a secretary, and destined to remain a secretary? Or if I were a stay-at-home wife and mother? I don't know. But that doesn't matter. The Lord has plans to use his children to carry out his vision for the world, and as a result of all the rights women have won, he can maneuver his daughters with much more agility. They may not always be happy to be pushed to the front lines, but they can consider it a privilege.

Kristen Scharold works in book publishing in New York City.