Why it is NOT a Sin for Husbands to Keep Secrets from Their Wives

“Dear BGR, can you tell me if the Bible says it is a sin for a man to keep secrets from his wife? My wife thinks so and so does the pastor of our church.  Let me give you some more context so you can understand better.  My wife and I are born again, Bible believing Christians and have been married for 8 years and we have three children who are 6 and under.  We met in the church we continue to attend to this same day.

My wife wanted to be a homemaker and I wanted to be a sole provider and we were both Christians and relatively conservative so it seemed to be a good match.   My wife even said she believed in male headship in marriage while we were dating.  But not long after we were married, I discovered that we defined “male headship” in very different ways.  My definition of male headship came right of Ephesians 5:23-24 which says the husband is the head his wife as Christ is the head of his church and the wife is to submit to her husband in everything.  Her definition of male headship was that a man leads his wife by his example but he is never a dictator.  All decisions are made jointly with both compromising with one another and only in rare situations where the couple cannot agree then the husband will break the tie. 

She says that is “male headship” but I see “equal partnership with only a slightly senior partner”.

Ever since we were married, I have found out that my wife is absolutely horrible with money.  We would talk each week about the budget and it was very open and transparent.  We would see my check, deduct the bills to be paid, and I would allot a certain amount each week for savings for emergencies and for vacations. We would discuss her allotted amount for shopping for food as well as clothing and incidentals for myself, my wife and the kids.

But time after time she would go over the budget with her ATM card. Each week she would eat up what I had tried to set aside for savings for emergencies and vacations.  She always had excuses but the reality was she was spending money she did not need to spend.  What I realized was she really did not respect or believe in what I was trying to do with budgeting for emergencies or vacations.

So, what would happen when emergencies, unforeseen expenses or vacation times came? We had to go into credit card debt.

About two months ago I finally had enough of what has been going on our entire marriage.  I took my wife to our bank where we had a joint account and had her sign forms with me to close that account.  I told her I was setting up a new bank account that would work better for us.  She signed the forms with me and we closed our old joint account. When we got home, we cut up our old ATM cards together and threw them in the trash.   She assumed she would be on the new account I would setup.  She assumed wrong.

The next day during my lunch break at work I setup a new bank account that does not have my wife’s name on it and I redirected my direct deposit to that bank.  When I got home from work my wife asked me when we were going to setup the new bank account.  I said “I already did today”.  She then asked “don’t I need to come down to sign to be on the account?” and I said “No, you are not going to be on the account”.  You could have seen fireballs coming out of her eyes at me.

She said “This is not right! We are married! What is yours is mine and what is mine is yours! I have a right to see what is going on in our bank and to be on our bank account with you!   You can’t do this!”.  And my response was “I have tried for years to reason with you regarding the money and time and time again you have ignored my attempts.   We have accumulated debt for vacations and other unforeseeable things over the years because you would not let me build any savings account.  Now I am going to fix our finances, pay the debt off and build a savings.  You do not need to see the bank, you need only trust that I am paying our bills and doing what is in our best financial interest as a family.  I will give you a cash allotment each week for groceries and incidentals.  If you need clothing for yourself or the kids, we can talk about that and I will get you more”.

I am happy to say that over the last 6 weeks I have been paying down on our debts and actually built a small savings for the first time in our 8-year marriage!

That is the good news.  The bad news is that my wife has made my life a living hell for the past two months.  She refuses to have sex with me and last week she called the pastor of our church and then he called me to have us come counsel with him.

I explained to him the situation, but he said I was wrong to deceive her into shutting our old joint account and then setting up a new one without her name on it.  The pastor said we are “one flesh” so that means nothing should be separate and she should have equal access to see what is in the account and be able to have an ATM card just like me.   He said we are “mutually accountable to each other”.  He made a brief mention of her overspending like she could just fix that.  I have given her a chance to fix it for 8 years! It was not going to be fixed.

He said my having a separate account that she could not see activity on and had no access to was me “having a part of your life that is secret from your wife.  And God does not allow any secrets in marriage. What you are doing is sinning against your wife.  You need to add her on your new account, give her full access to see its activity and get her an ATM card”.

When I asked him for scriptural support for what he said he arrogantly said “I already gave it to you.  You are not two people; you are one flesh.  That means one bank account. Equal access to all assets.  And absolutely no secrets of any kind from each other, whether they are bank accounts or anything else”.

I googled “biblical gender roles” last week and found your site on the first page. I did a search on your search bar for “finances” and found your post “Can a Christian husband deny his wife equal access to his income?”.  This was exactly what I needed and confirmed from the Bible what I was thinking was right.  I went on to read your 20 doctrines of Biblical gender roles and many other posts.  Thank you so much for all you are doing here for the cause of Christ.  Your site must be a massive trigger for egalitarian Christians and non-Christians alike.  I am sure you must get a lot of hate mail.

One last thing.  I searched your blog for the larger issue our pastor brought up about husbands keeping secrets.  I could not find anything on that.  Have you written on that? If so, can you please send me the link?”

What you just read was emailed to me last week from a man named Travis.

Travis, the answer to your question is no, I have not previously written directly on the subject of husbands keeping secrets from their wives.  I think I may have mentioned it in passing, but no dedicated articles for it.  So, I guess will remedy that here.   

Why it is NOT a Sin for Husbands to Keep Secrets from Their Wives

We are living in a “total transparency” culture where it seems everyone must know everything about everybody.  Think of all the big brother type shows where people allow cameras into their homes and private lives.  Tabloid journalism is built on this entire precept of everyone needing to know everything about everybody.    

When it comes to intimate relationships, whether in dating or in marriage, we are told “there can be no secrets”.

And more often than not, in most intimate relationships it is the woman who is trying to pry every thought, feeling and action out of her man’s head under the guise that he is not allowed to keep anything back from her.  In fact, if you watch TV shows you will often see that one of the biggest reasons women break up with men is because the men were not totally transparent with them in all areas of their life. 

Keeping anything secret from the woman you are in a relationship with, whether you are dating or married, is considered a violation of the 11th commandment – “Thou shalt not keep any secrets from thy woman”.

The problem is that there is no 11th commandment that says any such thing.  So those who believe men can hold nothing back from their women whether in thought or deed must try and find something the Bible does teach, and twist it to say that it means men cannot hold anything back from their women.

To accomplish this goal of convincing men that they can have no secrets from their women, some Christian teachers turn to the “one flesh” concept of marriage that is taught in the Bible.  In Matthew 19:6 Christ said of husbands and wives in marriage “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh”. So, the argument goes, since man and woman are one in marriage, there can be no secrets between them and no thought or deed can be held back from the other.  And if marriage were an equal partnership, that might make sense. 

But in Ephesians 5:23-24 we read “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church”  and 1 Peter 3:5-6 the Scriptures state that women are to be in “subjection unto their own husbands:  Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord”.   This reveals that marriage in God’s design is not an equal partnership, but rather it is a patriarchy designed to model the relationship of God to his people with the husband symbolizing God and the wife symbolizing the people of God.

In Deuteronomy 29:29 the Bible states the following:

“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law”. 

In God’s relationship with his people he holds many things back from them.  But it is the duty of his people to live by what he has revealed and leave to God what he has not revealed.

The application of this to marriage is clear.  Women are to abide by and follow those things which their husband reveals to them realizing their husband’s secrets belong to him, not to them.  It is not their business to spy on their husbands or try to find out his every thought and deed.

This tendency in women to want to know their husband’s every thought and deed is actually a core corruption of the feminine human nature that started with the first woman, Eve.  In Genesis 3:6 the Bible says “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…”.  She wanted to know everything God knew, she wanted to know the secrets God was keeping from her.  And women to this very day commit this same sin with their husbands trying to learn his secrets and being offended when he holds anything back from them.

Conclusion

Yes, the Bible teaches in multiple places that husbands and wives are indeed “one flesh” in marriage.  And one of those passages is Ephesians 5:31 which states “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh”.  And the “cause” for which a husband and wife are called by God to come together as one flesh in marriage is given to us in the preceding verses – Ephesians 5:22-30.  Men and women are to come together in marriage as one flesh for the cause of modeling the relationship of Christ to his church.  Are Christ and his church equal partners? Does the Bible tell us Christ and his church submit to one another? The answers to both these questions are a resounding NO.

Does Christ keep secrets from his church? You bet he does!  In Acts 1:7 Christ said to his wife “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power”.

God calls men to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to wash her spiritual spots and wrinkles and to make her the glorious church, he wanted her to be.   And wives are called to submit to their husbands in everything as the church is to submit to Christ in everything. 

Travis is learning what it means to give himself up for his wife as Christ gave himself up for his church.  Travis gave up the peace in his home knowing his wife would probably deny him sex and make his life miserable.  But he knew it was the right thing to do for his family.  Now he needs to get into that washing phase with his wife and correct her sinful lack of submission to him, not just in the area of finances but also in the area of denying him her body and using sexual denial as a weapon to manipulate him.

Jesus said in Matthew 10:36 “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household”.  Because we live in a sin cursed world, sometimes the person God meant to be our greatest spiritual ally as men becomes our greatest spiritual foe.  In preparation for this spiritual battle with his wife, Travis should read my article “3 Ways Wives Try to Control Their Husbands”.

Finally, to Christian wives reading this.  Do you get upset if your husband holds back his thoughts or feelings on anything? Do you have to track his every movement from work to home? If he were to lock down the finances where you could not see what is going on would that bother you?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then your heart is not in keeping with God’s law and his design for marriage.   You need to go to the Lord in prayer and pray what King David did in Psalm 119:36 “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness”.  When you spy on your husband or get angry if he keeps anything from you, you are acting in covetousness just as Eve did when she coveted that forbidden fruit because she wanted to know the knowledge God was keeping back from her. 

A question that I am sure many wives will bring up is “Are you saying husbands are not accountable for their actions?”  And the answer to that question is no, that is not what I am saying at all.  Husbands certainly are accountable to civil and church authorities in areas that God grants these authorities power.  But husbands are not accountable to their wives anymore than their wives are accountable to their children.  There is a clear line of spiritual authority declared by God.   For more on this subject of accountability and husbands see my article “Why Husbands Are NOT Accountable to Their Wives”.

As a Christian wife, once you have totally surrendered your heart to God in this area of having to know everything your husband thinks or does, you will find peace in your marriage as the Scriptures say in Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them”.