It’s been a while since I’ve had a reader question I wanted to address publicly in a post, but a few days ago I was asked a question I thought would benefit all of us and stimulate some discussion.
Does the Bible say anything specifically that the husband is to be the financial provider for the wife and family, or is it correct for the husband to expect the wife to “contribute” ( employment-wise) and always pay the husband back when he makes purchases for her such as prescriptions, car parts, etc.? I feel not protected or that he is my provider as I’ve always grown to understand from bible teachers/authors.
As you can tell, there is a lot going on behind this question. However, in order to answer the question, I think we need to remind ourselves of three general principles about money and marriage.
1. Fiercely protect your marital oneness.
The Bible teaches that when we get married, we are no longer two, but one. Two entities are joined into one. While there are definitely physical overtones to this statement ,this is a holistic statement that relates to all elements of marriage. What once belonged to the husband is no longer his alone, and what belonged to the wife is no longer hers alone.
My responsibility is not to protect the interest of Craig. My wife’s responsibility is not to protect the interest of Jeri. But, we are one and ought to act (though don’t always) in ways to pursue and protect us – not either individual spouse.
Unfortunately, in marriage we often become fiercely protective of our own interests. That is a sign that marital oneness is breaking down. It’s a sign that your marriage is ready for a loving counselor who can help guide you through this season of your marriage.
2. Share everything.
In our home, I work for a profit and my wife works as a labor of love for our family. I earn an income for what I do, and she does not.
For now, we’re perfectly happy with how we’ve decided to structure our home in terms of our working responsibilities. We love the fact that she gets to stay at home. As a family, we have breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day (unless there is a church, friends, or family function). That is a tremendous blessing to our family.
However, the money I earn is not my money. It is our money. I couldn’t earn this money without the support of my wife. It is mutually beneficial for both of us. When I get a payment for something, that money goes into a bank account that has both our names on it. We sit down and decide how much money we’re going to spend on certain categories (we call it a budget), and we agree beforehand how our money is going to be spent.
In the past, we’ve even had certain dollar amounts (about $50 a month) that was our own to spend in any way we wished.
3. Husbands, Love Your Wives as Christ Loves the Church and Wives Submit to Your Husbands.
Here’s me walking in hot water.
In our home, we take this verse literally. This verse guides our decision making process and home management styles. My role in the family is to submit to Christ and to love my wife in the same manner as Christ loves the church. My job is to be sure that our home exists for the honor and glory of Christ.
I’ve got my plate full with that short teaching.
My wife is very involved in every decision made in our home, but ultimately, she submits to me and supports my efforts to glorify Christ as a family. We’re both actively involved in submission.
Submission is not the dirty word we’ve made it out to be.
As a church, we seek to submit to Christ. What would a church look like if they decided that submission was bad and they weren’t going to submit to Christ. All I know is that I wouldn’t place membership there.
Indeed, we can all point to teachings or situations where submitting has been disastrous and dangerous. But these exceptions need not nullify the Biblical teachings.
What submission does not mean:
It does not mean a person cannot protect him or herself from an abusive person. It does not mean that a person cannot or should not share her opinion. I know that many, many of you are in situations where this is hard. I’d need to pastorally talk about those things and your alternatives with you in person, but in general, healthy situations, I believe that this is how God wants the Christian home to be managed.
If you are in an abusive situation, then you need to talk to a leader at your local church about the situation. Submission is not a license for abuse.
Still, your situation does not negate the value of the biblical teaching.
It doesn’t matter who brings home the bacon. To be a spiritual leader doesn’t mean you must be the income earner. I don’t think the Bible speaks against stay at home dads or working moms. As your family and marriage develops oneness, you can make a collective effort to give God glory in all you (plural) do.
What do you think the Bible teaches about the roles of husband and wife when it comes to finances?