I have had this question asked to me a lot lately so I thought I would dedicate a post to this issue. While a wife is Biblically entitled to be fed and clothed by her husband(Exodus 21:10 & I Timothy 5:8) she is NOT entitled to equal access to his income.
The only “equality” the Bible places in marriage is on the issue of sex, that both the husband and wife have an equal right to have sex with the other(1 Corinthians 7:4). But in the Biblical model of marriage, marriage is NOT an equal partnership, but rather a patriarchy(a male lead hierarchical relationship) that is symbolic of the relationship of God to his people.
“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” Ephesians 5:23-24
Some egalitarians and Christian feminists attempt to try and point to Ephesians 5:21 where it says “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” in order to cancel out the specific submission commands to women in the context of marriage. They do this in order to try and prop up their false “mutual submission” and “partnership” style of marriage. But this does not match the context and it makes no sense. If man and woman were equal partners in marriage(with no hierarchy) – this would break the model of Christ and the Church where he is the head, and the church is to submit to Christ in everything.
Another Bible passage egalitarians and Christian feminists point to in order to cancel out the mountain of Biblical passages that support the patriarchal view of marriage is found in Galatians:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28
Context is ALWAYS important when looking at the Bible(as well as any other book). In Galatians 3 Paul was not speaking on marriage, but rather on the new entity that God created, the Church . He was saying that spiritually speaking we as believers are equal spiritually before Christ. God equally saves men, women, Jews, Greeks, slaves and freemen the body of Christ is made up all these people – this is what Paul was saying.
Egalitarians and Christian feminists would have us believe that Paul literally just canceled out everything he wrote on the submission of wives to husbands,the headship of husbands over their wives and the general headship of men over women(Ephesians 5:23-24,Colossians 3:18,Titus 2:5,I Corinthians 11:3 & I Timothy 2:11).
They would also have us believe that Paul was directly contradicting Peter who also commanded wives to be in subjection to their husbands(I Peter 3).
No where in ALL of the Scripture is marriage EVER portrayed as equal partnership.
Recently I have had many Conservative Christians emailing me privately and some commenting publicly about how happy they are that I am presenting the Biblical view of marriage, despite how it totally conflicts with the modern western view of marriage. But I have actually received comments and emails from some atheists and those who have left Christian churches.
While these people(atheists and non-Christians) detest the Biblical view of marriage they have actually said they appreciate that I am not trying to do what many Christians do – and read egalitarianism into the Bible. The Bible and egalitarianism could not be more contradictory, and even non-believers who take the Bible at face value can accept this(and that is why they reject Christianity).
It is sad that many professed Christians continue to refuse to accept this truth and instead continue to try and replace God’s design of marriage with their “equal partnership” idea of marriage even though it directly conflicts with what God has clearly revealed in his Word.
Applying the Biblical principle of male headship to marital finances
So no, Biblically speaking both spouses do NOT have an equal right to what the other makes. The husband is the authority of all income that comes into the home, whether through his wife or himself.
A husband can deny access to his income as long as he is providing the necessities of food, clothing and shelter to his wife. He may do this because his wife spends too much money, or he may use it as a form of discipline for other sinful behavior.
But there may not be any negative reason why he chooses not to give complete and equal access to the family finances. Some men might do this in order to shield their wife from some of the financial stresses the family may face. Whatever the reason, the truth is from a Biblical perspective a husband does not have to open the family finances to his wife.
However, this truth does not mean he is released from talking with his wife and knowing from her perspective what she thinks are the financial needs of herself, their children and their home. Out of respect for his wife’s position as the manager of his home and children, and also because a husband ought to know his wife’s opinions, he should regularly inquire of his wife what she thinks the home needs are.
Is there anything wrong with a husband choosing to give his wife equal access to the family finances?
No there is nothing wrong Biblically speaking when a husband chooses to give his wife equal access to the family finances. Some husbands might choose to delegate the weekly paying of bills to their wife and there is nothing wrong with this. But these same husbands must realize, that while they can delegate the actual paying of weekly debts to their wives, they can never delegate their responsibility to lead the families finances.
However, a Christian husband is not permitted to have a “hands off” approach to the finances where his wife handles all the money and he has no idea what is going on – this is by definition dereliction of a husband’s duty to lead his home in this very important area of finances. A Christian husband should be setting the financial policies of the home and setting a budget(after gathering the needs of the home from his wife’s perspective of course), and planning for things like family vacations and savings for emergencies.
What if the husband refuses to work or improperly spends money?
A wife cannot discipline her husband because she is not his authority. If he is doing something wrong, like not providing for her or their family such as in the case of a lazy husband who sits at home all day, then she can go to his authority in the Church(the Pastor) and have the Pastor deal with her husband’s sin.
This could also apply to a husband who has a gambling problem or a drug addiction and leaves his family with no food, clothing or shelter. In this case a wife does have recourse, because even though she is under his authority, her husband is sinning against her and violating the rights of her and her family to be properly provided for and she can take action by going to those who are in authority over her husband.
In a worst case scenario if a husband refuses to provide for his wife and children after being confronted by his authorities and she has consulted with her Pastor and he agrees, she could divorce him for breach of the marriage covenant which includes his responsibility to provide for her if he is physically able to work.
The scriptures tell Christian wives that they are to submit to their husbands in “everything“(Ephesians 5:24) and this includes in the area of finances. A Christian husband is to be “one that ruleth well his own house”(I Timothy 3:4) , and he does not have the option to take a “hands off” approach in this very important area.
A husband may choose to give his wife equal access to the finances, or he may choose not to. He may restrict her access temporarily because of her overspending or because of other issues in the marriage. There may be no problems in the marriage, but it is still his prerogative as the head of the home whether he will grant her full and equal access to the family finances.
However, a Christian husband’s authority in the financial area carries with it his responsibility toward his wife to talk with her and understand her opinions as to what she, the children and the house need. Only then through prayerful consideration and taking his wife’s concerns into account, can he make wise and informed decisions about the financial direction he will take his family in.
Ultimately, if the finances of a home are in disrepair God holds the husband as the head of the home directly responsible. We need to be encouraging more Christian men to take a more active role in leading their families in all areas of life, and especially this very important area of finances.
And for all those “abuse accusers” out there, this is not “financial abuse” according to our creator and God but rather this is the order and responsibly he has given to Christian husbands to provide for and lead their homes in this important area of finances.
15 thoughts on “Can a Christian husband deny his wife equal access to his income?”
I work outside the home and contribute almost 50% of our family’s finances (and healthcare benefits as my husband is a contractor). Should I be giving my husband my paycheck or would I still be in compliance w/biblical directive should I decide to keep it in my own account. Obviously, the check is made out to me personally so I’d have to sign it which my husband understands. If I choose to open my own account (haven’t done so yet; waiting for huband’s approval), I will still let him decide how to spend it.
The reason I say I believe from a Biblical perspective that a husband has authority over all income that comes into the house(whether it through him or his wife) is because the Bible clearly states that a wife is to submit to her husband in “everything”(Ephesians 5:24) as the Church is to submit to Christ in everything.
So aside from your husband telling you to do something sinful(because God is your higher authority), he has authority over all areas of your life, including if you work outside the home, where your work, and what you make from that job. Now I do think that as husbands under normal circumstances, we ought to give our our wife “the fruit of her hands”(Proverbs 31:31) and that means we should let her have some benefit of the money she makes.
But just as for us men, we don’t get to go and blow every dollar we make, but we must be responsible and pay our bills and care for our family, and provide a savings, so too we must do this same thing with the money our wife makes, and we are just as responsible for what happens with the money she makes, as with the money we make because she is under our authority in the home.
I do not believe a husband ought to allow his wife to have a separate account, unless he has direct access to it and can withdraw funds. So in your case, it might be your account, but I think his name should be added to it as well. The reason is because it is dereliction of his duty as the head of his home, if he allows any finances in the home to go completely unmanaged. Now maybe his wife has a part time job and makes so little money, that he tells her she may have that has spending money and use it any way she wants and that is his prerogative to do so, but he still should have access to the account to monitor it.
I am happy hear you are submitting to your husbands financial leadership.
Interesting. I agree with what you’ve said, it was just a bit reversed for us. I actually completely fell apart a few years back because hubby had me in charge of everything, paying the bills, doing the taxes, running his business. It’s all his money and he’s very generous with it, but I had all of the responsibility and emotional concern. It’s a bit funny, he was managing things alright, by totally delegating them all to me. God is faithful and hubby has since gotten much more involved, which really lifted a huge burden off of me. He’s awesome, but it really was a form of neglect that I don’t think he was even aware of.
I am sure your husband is a good and decent Christian man. We as husbands all have blind spots or areas that we will be weak in, just as I am sure you will admit even the best of Christian wives have their own blind spots and failings as wives.
I believe it is our job as husbands, to do exactly what yours did, and see where our wives are being overburdened and come to their rescue. God has mad man strong for a reason, to shoulder the heavy burdens and stresses of life, and shield his wife and his children as much as possible. This is why I said in a previous post, that one of the many responsibilities God has given to husbands is to know their wives – meaning to know her hopes and fears, what bothers her, what stresses her out and do our best to help in these areas.
And as your example illustrates – while we as husbands can delegate different tasks to our wives, sometimes we can “over delegate” and we need to look for that. But a piece of advice I have for wives is something I often have to remind my wife of – we as men are not mind readers, we don’t pick up on subtle clues that our wives often drop. Women tend to deal with men as if they were women. A woman can come in and right away pick up on the emotional status of another woman and know what she is thinking, often times without her saying anything. This is a beautiful gift that God has given to women – the ability to read other people(men, women and children) and pick up how they are feeling without saying a word. But this rare gift is not given to many men, because it would often times interfere with our ability to be objective and make difficult decisions as we lead.
I tell my wife “be respectful, but also be direct” – meaning if she needs help, or is feeling overwhelmed with anything she needs to come right out and say she needs help or cannot handle something. When she is direct I am more than happy to step in and help her any way I can.
Thank you for your perspective as always.
Good article. I have one comment, though. A Marraige is not a patriarchy, but a covenant where the husband is Head of the home. If interested, you can read more of the difference in Ray Sutton’s book, “That you may Prosper.”
I agree that marriage is a covenant relationship, where the husband and wife both have responsibilities toward one another as outlined in the Scriptures. The husband is to love, lead, provide for and protect his wife. The wife is to submit to and serve her husband. God has place the husband as the head of the home, and the wife as the manager of the home. I don’t think it is an either or situation – yes husbands and wives make a covenant with one another in marriage, but God defines what the parameters of that covenant are – we don’t get to. One of the major parameters of the Christian covenant of marriage is the fact that it is a patriarchy(a male lead relationship, with the husband as the head of his wife, his children and his home).
I have these good Christian friends that are more “conservative” than me and would probably agree with your blog more than I do ( I am a married Christian woman). But in their relationship the wife works full time and the husband stays home (she doesn’t make much money-works in a nursing home). I’ve always thought he was kind of lazy to not work, but it works for them. How would a man manage the finances if he’s not the one making any money?
Well I think this issue of him managing the finances may be non-issue if he is refusing to work thereby giving his wife grounds for divorce.
The way I see it Biblically speaking is – this woman has two choices.
1. She can divorce him for his refusal to work and provide for his family.
2. She can ignore his sin and stay under his authority as her husband, and then in that case yes technically speaking she has to submit to his authority in all areas, including the finances. But even then a husband can delegate the book keeping to his wife, as long as he is setting the financial priorities and leading his home.
But an option she does not have is to make her own hybrid form of marriage where she does not follow her husband authority in all areas – including finances. She does not have the right to take authority over him.
Hello, I would like some clarification please. My husband claims to know God but doesn’t live as such. He has his account. I have mine andche has access to mine. I provide for kids myself food fun outings gas my bills etc. He pays the bigger house bills like tax mortgage heat. He is blessed with a great salary. Because he makes more and is the man he buts what he wants. He finances actually. He even puts bills on the visa. So if he wants a new car every year he’ll trade and upgrade. A new boat luxury. Finance. New house…we move move snd finance finance. So you get the picture. We have food home and clothes but are in massive debt. Also he spends little time with us choosing work, his work friends and hobbies instead. I many times ask my family for money to help pay bills get food or clothes if husband spends too much and can’t make payments. So after i lost my job for him. He had me quit we could move again and i couldn’t apply for a work permit. Anyhow a few years of financial stress from the debt had him depressed and he cheated. And he left us. What was my biblical obligation to God and my spouse? I did try to reconcile for 2 years. He is happy being single to date. He now does provide financially although hes still in debt. As a wife what do i do. Let him be pray for him and divorce? He wont counsel and says hell never stop buying stuff and mortgage till he dies…that he needs only to live for now. Help!!
I am sorry to hear about tragedy that has befallen your marriage. It is one thing if a husband is providing but yet is financially irresponsible(racks up a lot of debt), that is something as a wife that you simply have to give to God and you would just need to keep being the wife God has called you to be.
But it is another thing if he cannot provide for the basics of food, clothing and shelter for you because of his misspending in other areas – in that sense that is failure to provide. See my post:
Also from you have said I think you have case for spousal abandonment. I wrote another post on that which you can find here:
So on two fronts I believe you have the right to Biblically divorce him. If you seen no chance that he will change, go to counseling or reconcile and come home then by all means I believe the Bible allows you to divorce him.
I submit to my husband’s authority in all things – including finances. I currently work full-time outside of the home and earn a very nice income (I will be quitting my job when our first child is born in June to stay home and finally get to be the keeper of the home that I have wanted to be!) I am a terrible spender and have no concept of how much I am spending or if we can actually afford what I want to buy. I tend to make small purchases of little things thinking it will be of no consequence, but it adds up at the end of the month. Slowly my husband has been restricting my access to our money by holding the credit cards, switching my direct deposit to an account he controls (which I am named as a joint person but do not have a debit card and would never go make a withdrawal without my husband’s direction to do so. As of this month, my access to all forms of credit and debit are gone and I closed the only bank account that I had in my name alone. He has decided to give me a small weekly budget for groceries. He said that I may keep any excess after the weekly groceries are purchased as my own personal spending money. Not only will this completely curb my reckless spending habits but it will serve as a way for me to learn self control and give me incentive to find the best deals on groceries because the more I save the more I can keep! I am so excited to finally have an opportunity to build financial responsibility for myself (I was a very spoiled child whose parents always bailed me out when I would overspend or max out a credit card.)
At first my husband felt that these steps were unnecessary and worried that he was restricting my access to OUR money – he was worried that since I was contributing to our income I should have equal access to it. However it became apparent over time that I simply wasn’t cutting back spending even though I wanted to (and thought I was trying to). With my complete understanding he knows that this has to be done. He is hopeful that in time I will learn to be more responsible and perhaps have more access as I prove myself to be worthy.
I know that not all wives will need their access to money and credit restricted like this, and honestly I think my husband is a bit embarrassed that it has to be this extreme, but I am glad that I have a husband who makes decisions that are best for our family even if they are difficult.
I am so glad you came on here to give a positive testimony about how you as a wife submitted to your husbands leadership in the area of finances. I am also so glad that you are truly looking forward to being the Biblical “keeper of your home” that God designed you to be. There is so much joy(and so much less stress often times) when we live as God designed us to live and not how the world tells us we should live as Christians.
I can totally understand where your husband was coming from because as Christian men we are taught today that we are simply a “figure head” leader at best and have no real power over our wives but Biblically speaking we do. It can be scary sometimes for us as men to act to bring our family in order whether it be spiritually or financially or in other ways.
And this is not to say that men never have issues in this area of finances. But a man is required to use self discipline with himself when it comes to finances, it is not his wife’s duty, responsibility or right to restrict his access.
Now there are some extreme cases where a man may be gambling away, or spending away the families finances to the point where the family now has no food or shelter and in these extreme cases a wife has the right to seek help from her husband’s authority which is the Pastor of their church. It some extreme cases she may have to separate or eventually divorce if his spending problem turns into a true “failure to provide the basic necessities” situation.
But I am glad you did what you did, you self reflected and saw a problem, submitted to your husband and by doing so you also submitted to God.
Please show scriptural ecidence that support the idea of divorce as an option if a husband fails to provide for his family. The Bible is very clear on the issue of divorce. It is only permissible in the cases of sexual immorality/adultery or abandonment by a non-believing spouse.
Yes sexual immorality/adultery and abandonment are reasons allowed for divorce in the Bible but you also have Exodus 21:10-11:
“10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.”
Exodus 21:10-11 (KJV)
And if you read that passage very carefully and what comes before it is not as been falsely stated talking only about bond wives(slave wives). The actual context is a Hebrew daughter(not a slave) sold as a maid servant(indentured servant for 6 years) to considered as a possible wife for a man or his son. The Jews accepted this passage as a core understanding of the responsibilities of the marriage covenant and for a man to fail to provide his wife with these three things was to break the covenant and allow the woman to be free from him in divorce. The Jews called this a “Get” and only the man could grant his wife divorce. So if a man was failing to provide these three things the woman’s family would come to the man insisting that he give their female relative a this “Get” or letter of divorce.
This is a big subject that of Divorce – i would suggest you read my article https://biblicalgenderroles.com/2017/12/13/if-we-treated-divorce-like-killing/ where I actually address every verse in the Bible on divorce, what Christ said through his prophets before his incarnation, what he said while he walked this earth and what he said through his Apostles after his ascension. And if you have questions after reading that article please feel free to post them there on that article.
There are women that are good at handling money , it’s though menditory for a wife to submit her earnings to her husband. I don’t believe I should have a seperate bank account since women tend to emotionally spend and not count how much money used.
Most women ane myself included don’t have a strong math background, we tend to not want to take more advanced math. God designed men to be better at math. I don’t know many women that enjoy math, we don’t in general like solving problems, we are better at having a good store of memorized words in our brains not prone toward math reasoning.
Women were designed to take care of children. Women use up more brain power to do math , we have to try harder in this one area.
I trust my husband’s masculine ability to handle money.
Men and women are different, we are not the same. I believe women should do what we’re good at, not try to do what we werw not designed to do. My brain has always had a problem with math and to this day I’m not good at math.