Does God Allow Women to Make Their Own Decisions?

“It seems to me that people who believe in Biblical Patriarchy as you do think that women are incapable of making any decisions.  Why would God give women the human ability to reason as men do if he never intended them to make any decisions for themselves?” This was a question I recently received from one of my readers.

Obviously, the person who wrote me these questions does not believe in Biblical Patriarchy and like many people they have a negative view of it.  So, what does the Bible say about women making decisions? Does it allow women to make decisions?

The Husband is the Head of the Home but the Wife is the Manager of it

The Bible says the following about a husband’s headship over his wife:

“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 (KJV)

God has established three spheres of human authority and they are the family, the church and civil government.   And while no human authority sphere is unlimited its power, the husband’s authority over his wife is the most powerful of all human authorities because his authority over his wife extends into the most personal areas of another person’s life.

But the husband’s very personal authority over his wife’s life does not mean she cannot make any decisions for herself.  In fact, a good wife makes many decisions on a daily basis.

The Bible admonishes women to regard their husbands as their earthly lords in 1 Peter 3:6. But one of the primary ways a wife serves her husband, her master, is by managing the affairs of his home. 

The Bible speaks to the woman’s duty to manage the affairs of the home in the following passage:

I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”

I Timothy 5:14 (KJV)

The phrase “guide the house” is an English translation of the Greek word “Oikodespoteo”, which comes from two Greek words “oikos” (house) and “despoteo” (to rule). This literally means to occupy one’s self in the management of a household.  A manager is one who must make decisions.  Therefore, we can rightly say that God does in fact want women to make decisions on a daily basis as they manage the affairs of the home.

In the passage below from the book of Proverbs, the Bible gives us an entire list of examples of decisions that good wives could make on a daily basis:

“10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. 12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. 13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

14 She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. 15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. 16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. 18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. 19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. 25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.  30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31:10-31 (KJV)

So, as we can see from the above passage from Proverbs, women can make many kinds of decisions.  They can decide what dinners to make and what kinds of clothes they would like to make or buy for their family on a daily basis.  They could decide to sell at a market, fair or online – things they make in their home.  They could decide to use their wisdom and years of experience to teach other women how to be godly wives and mothers by teaching a woman’s Sunday school class at church or writing a woman’s blog.  They could choose to make food or clothing to help the poor and needy around them.  They could organize meals with other women to assist people in their church that are sick or otherwise in need of help.

They could decide to ravish their husband sexually as Proverbs 5:19 exhorts them to do and invite their husband to feast on their bodies as the wife does in Song of Solomon 4:16.

There are so many good decisions that women can and should make on a daily basis.

Man Can Override the Decisions of Woman

The Bible actually dedicates an entire chapter to the subject of women making personal decisions.  It is found in the book of Numbers.

“1 And Moses spake unto the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded.

2 If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

3 If a woman also vow a vow unto the Lord, and bind herself by a bond, being in her father’s house in her youth;  4 And her father hear her vow, and her bond wherewith she hath bound her soul, and her father shall hold his peace at her; then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she hath bound her soul shall stand.

5 But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth; not any of her vows, or of her bonds wherewith she hath bound her soul, shall stand: and the Lord shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her. 6 And if she had at all an husband, when she vowed, or uttered ought out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul; 7 And her husband heard it, and held his peace at her in the day that he heard it: then her vows shall stand, and her bonds wherewith she bound her soul shall stand.

8 But if her husband disallowed her on the day that he heard it; then he shall make her vow which she vowed, and that which she uttered with her lips, wherewith she bound her soul, of none effect: and the Lord shall forgive her.

9 But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her.

10 And if she vowed in her husband’s house, or bound her soul by a bond with an oath; 11 And her husband heard it, and held his peace at her, and disallowed her not: then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she bound her soul shall stand. 12 But if her husband hath utterly made them void on the day he heard them; then whatsoever proceeded out of her lips concerning her vows, or concerning the bond of her soul, shall not stand: her husband hath made them void; and the Lord shall forgive her.

13 Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void.

14 But if her husband altogether hold his peace at her from day to day; then he establisheth all her vows, or all her bonds, which are upon her: he confirmeth them, because he held his peace at her in the day that he heard them.

15 But if he shall any ways make them void after that he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity.

16 These are the statutes, which the Lord commanded Moses, between a man and his wife, between the father and his daughter, being yet in her youth in her father’s house.”

And now we come to the truth of the matter.    Egalitarians and even many complementarians who hate the doctrines of Patriarchy found in the Bible know that God does in fact allow women to make decisions.  But what they don’t like is that women can and should be held accountable for their decisions by their male heads, whether they be their fathers or their husbands.  They hate that God gives fathers the authority to overrule any decisions their daughters make and especially hate that God gives husbands the authority to overrule or literally void any decisions their wives make. 

Conclusion

While wives can make decisions, they should only make decisions which they do not believe will conflict with their husband’s will in any given matter.

And really, this is a question we should all ask ourselves about each decision we make on a daily basis.  In the book of James, we read the following principle about making decisions:

“13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”

James 4:13-15 (KJV)

All of us are accountable to the Lord for every decision we make.  As men we can also be held accountable for some decisions by our civil authorities and for other decisions by our church authorities. But in some decisions a man makes, he is accountable only to God.  It is not the same for women. A woman can held accountable for every decision she makes by her father or her husband.   And this is what opponents of the doctrines of Biblical patriarchy hate as it conflicts their humanist ideals of individuality and equality.

The Bible however stands in full opposition to the humanist ideals of individuality and social equality and that is why humanists want to rid it from all areas of our society.

Thankfully though, we have this promise regarding the Word of God:

“For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”

1 Peter 1:24-25 (KJV)